Adam Blaine a CIA operative in Afghanistan returns home to Martha's Vineyard to attend the funeral of his father, the best-selling author, Ben Blaine. He feels no sense of loss—only bitterness, against a father with whom he had a fallout some ten years before. Police are suspicious about Ben's death. His supposed ninety-foot fall off a cliff near the family home may not have been suicide or an accident. For a start, there's the issue of a button—missing from the victim's shirt and suggestive of a struggle, prior to the fall. Adam's mother, Clarice, his gay older brother, Teddy and his father's brother, Jack, all had a difficult relationship with Ben. He cheated on Clarice throughout their 40-year marriage, bought the family mansion when her father became bankrupt, and then made Clarice sign a post-nup agreement giving up any claims to his future earnings.
To add insult to injury, Ben's will disinherits his entire family except for Adam to whom he's bequeathed $100 000 and a photo album. The bulk of his 12 million-dollar estate and the family home, Ben has left to his pretty actress girlfriend, Carla Pacelli. And, surprisingly, he's left one million dollars to Adam's former girlfriend, Jenny. Worst of all, for Adam, he's been left executor of this will whose implementation would leaving his mother and brother destitute.
However, Adam is not about to allow his father to continue humiliating his family from the grave. He's going to retrieve as much of the estate as he can for his family and help to cover their tracks if the police seem determined to lay blame on one of them. But Adam also wants to know the truth. How and why did his father die? Was it a family murder? Was it Carla? Was it Jenny? Did anyone know his father had brain cancer? Why did his mother sign a post-nup? Why was he left with a seemingly useless photo album?
Adam begins his investigations and he has to his advantage, some knowledge of the legal system, having attended law school for a year before his fallout with his father. As a CIA operative, he is also seemingly more discerning and more purposeful than the policemen around him. He's always a step ahead. For instance, on a visit to the scene of the crime, Adam finds the button that the police somehow missed. But he keeps the information to himself. However, from this point, and after being set up so well, the plot appears to stagnate as we are taken through numerous flashbacks and lengthy conversations and interviews between Adam and the prime suspects and other side characters. Finally, towards the end, some clever facts are revealed, including the reason for Adam's estrangement from his father. Adam confronts the prime suspects with what he's been able to find out.
Adam's character lacks conviction, however. He comes from a dysfunctional family but he somehow managed to escape the rot? He's an upright guy with no flaws. Plus his ‘work' outside of the country is shrouded in mystery so no background information is availed to help convince the reader that he's equipped for the task he's assigned himself. His character is also similar in many respects to that of the protagonist in another Richard North Patterson book, The Spire. You would think it was the same person in both stories. Fall from Grace is not a page-turner by any means and not among the author's best books because plot movement is slow but the surprises at the end make the book readable.
Best part of story, including ending:
There is little movement for a significant part of the book
Best scene in story:
When Adam reveals why he despised his father because it helps to explain his father's actions somewhat.
Opinion about the main character:
He is too flawless. He's too 'nice' to everyone around.