James Patterson,
Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas
(Time Warner, 2005)

As a fan of most James Patterson novels, I know to expect murder, mystery and mayhem. So I was caught off guard by his short audiobook Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, which is a love story! Yes, you read that right: a LOVE story. Oh, there is a little death, but no murder, no mystery and certainly little mayhem -- and that is only if you stretch your imagination.

Katie Wilkinson is a small-town North Carolina girl who moves to New York to be a publishing house editor. One day she meets the man she thinks would be perfect for her, a house painter named Matt from Martha's Vineyard. A poet, he came to her company to get his work published. From their first meeting, she felt they were destined for each other but, after months of courtship, he suddenly disappears, leaving her a diary by his first wife as way of explanation.

Confused by Matt's actions (as was I), Katie reads the diary. Matt's first wife, Suzanne, had written it to their baby boy, Nicholas, so he might grow up knowing more about his parents than Suzanne knew about hers.

The book is very touching and positive. Suzanne, a Boston doctor, moved to Martha's Vineyard and met Matt. The two fell madly in love, got married and had a baby boy. For the most part, they are happy, the perfect family with the perfect lives. So what, Katie wonders (as I did not), could tear them apart? She had to get through the diary to find out. I thought it was pretty obvious what was going to happen and wasn't surprised by the end.

Becky Ann Baker narrates the audiobook. You might recognize her from Men in Black and Freaks & Geeks. She reads decently. Her North Carolina accent is acceptable, if a little forced. Becky's male voices all sound pretty much the same.

I am not a normal fan of love stories, but I was caught up in Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas. I never came to feel much for the character of Katie, but I definitely felt an attachment to Suzanne. I was surprised at the depth of emotion I had for her by the fourth and final CD. Personalities this good are very rare in reality, but then, this is a novel.

For all you Patterson fans looking for his standard fare, avoid this offering. For those of you who enjoy love stories, but not tales of murder, this one is good, but I would advise you skip the rest of Patterson's works. Either way, it is nice to see an author who churns out much of the same for four or five book releases a year can manage a bit of variety if he chooses.

by Wil Owen
28 October 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.