James Patterson and Maxine Paetro's 'Confessions: The Private School Murders': A Review

Pages: 448

Rating: ***


When I read James Patterson and Maxine Paetro’s last young adult crime mystery ‘Confessions of a Murder Suspect’, I must admit that I was pretty impressed. While the first book clearly left room a series, I was quite content not reading any more books. However, as another reader brought to my attention, reviewing one book and not the rest makes everything feel unfinished. So at her request, I decided to look into ‘Confessions: The Private School Murders’.

Confessions picks up right where the first novel left readers. Tandy Angel doesn’t have time to celebrate clearing her name and her brothers of her parent’s murder when her oldest brother, Mathew, is arrested for killing his girlfriend and their unborn child. With plenty of motive and circumstantial evidence stacked against him, it’s up to Tandy to once again put on her detective hat and find away to prove his innocence. If that wasn’t enough on her plate, several young neighborhood girls her age have been turning up dead. Thinking that it’s too much of a coincidence, she decides to secretly undertake the task of uncovering the truth behind the newest string of serial killings. On top of everything, the mind numbing drugs that her parents were force-feeding her are beginning to lose their effect and Tandy’s memories of a lost love come rushing back to her. With all the death surrounding Tandy and her family, can she solve the crimes before she winds up dead too?


Honestly, when it came to reading the sequel, I didn’t have very high expectations. While the book didn’t necessarily exceed my expectations, it wasn’t a horrible read. In the first book, the murder of Tandy’s parents and the constant accusations of different parties was the main focus of the story. What really drew me in was the mystery was so tightly written that it was one of the few stories that kept me guessing all the way to the reveal at the end. ‘Confessions’ part two had so many flaws that it was hard to get past the stellar story of the first one. Here we see Tandy trying to solve a series of murders that are taking place all around her, but clearly, her main focus is locating and reuniting with a long lost love that isn’t sure is even still alive. The murders are (wrongfully) the side plot of the story, and she discovers the answers to each mystery almost by accident. The mystery itself isn’t nearly as dramatic as it’s predecessor, and it seems that the story veers in the complete opposite direction, which seemed misleading. I hated the fact that the authors decided to tack on to poor Tandy. I would much rather have one good, solid murder mystery with fewer subplots, than an average story littered with unnecessary plot extras.

Tandy Angel is still a respectable character. Even though she is represented as a regular teenaged girl instead of the snooty know-it-all that we’ve grown to love, there is still enough of her old persona lingering for us to hold onto. All in all, it’s nice to see her blossom into an emotional person who, despite being bombarded with all these feelings that she has no idea how to handle. We get to see the real living, breathing teenager come to life.

The novel, however, fails to blossom like its protagonist. It seems to have taken two steps backward instead of the forward leaps and bounds that we know Patterson is capable of. It feels rushed to me. I’m not sure if the two parties were having trouble getting together… or an approaching deadline… other projects… or what, but the pretty little bow tied around this book isn’t enough to hide its faults.

So in conclusion what we have is a very difficult situation. The characters have taken a couple steps forward, but the story has taken a huge leap backward. I still managed to get through the book in about two days, but it just doesn’t seem to have that spark that the original brought to the table. For falling prey to the curse that plagues most sequels, the Private School Murders have only unearthed an average three stars. Case closed.

I thought the story was a little too busy. What is your opinion?

  • Yes, I agree.
  • No, I thought it was just fine.
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Just because I wasn't overly impressed by the story doesn't mean that you couldn't be. What did you think?

3 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Confessions of the Private School Murders

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