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The Book of James

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After a devastating car accident, Nick whispers his last words to his wife, Mackenzie: “As soon as they know I’m dead, they’ll come after you.”

Frightened and bewildered, Mackenzie travels to Philadelphia for the reading of her late husband’s will. To her shock, she learns that Nick’s mother, Cora, is not dead as he always claimed—rather, she is living as a recluse in the family’s gloomy nineteenth-century mansion. Desperate to understand why her husband lied to her for so many years, Mackenzie accepts Cora’s invitation to stay as her guest.

As the women come together in the same house, their stories entwine, each driven by an agenda. Cora clings to her memories and will do anything to protect her family’s secrets, while Mackenzie struggles to uncover a terrible truth long denied. But as she brings to light the darkness in her husband’s past, is Mackenzie putting her own future at risk?

Revised edition: This edition of The Book of James includes editorial revisions.

387 pages, Paperback

First published March 10, 2012

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About the author

Ellen J. Green

5 books169 followers
Ellen J. Green is the Amazon Charts bestselling author of the Ava Saunders novels (Absolution and Twist of Faith) and The Book of James. She attended Temple University in Philadelphia, where she earned her degrees in psychology, and has worked in the psychiatric ward of a maximum-security correctional facility for fifteen years. She also holds an MFA degree in creative writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Born and raised in Upstate New York, Ms. Green now lives in southern New Jersey with her two children.

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5 stars
1,595 (34%)
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 362 reviews
Profile Image for Erin.
2,078 reviews67 followers
June 3, 2015
ARC for review.

First, this book was about seven times longer than it needed to be.

Second, when I find out my dead husband has lied to me about his entire history, remind me to simply take my fifteen million dollars off and console myself with that money, while leaving the rest as a bad business that really doesn't concern me, but does concern a lot of bat-shit crazy people. Also remind me that I ALREADY HAVE THE MONEY so there is absolutely no reason for me to go into Nancy Drew mode while staying in a house controlled by above-mentioned bat-shit crazy person, whereafter I proceed to make blunder after blunder such a that a reader (such as a person much like myself), might think I DESERVE to die for being such a complete and total idiot.

Third, did I mention the fifteen million dollars? Take your ass home, Mackenzie.
Profile Image for Maxine (Booklover Catlady).
1,286 reviews1,247 followers
November 17, 2016

Right, review done.

This book really took a lot out of me as I persisted with it thinking it had to rev up at some point.

It has a steady pace but a very slow start after Nicks death unveils secrets of his past. I was being so hopeful.

The plot should have been brilliant but it fell flat, I skimmed bits in the middle and the reveals at the end were terribly predictable.

As for the main characters. Cora is well written as a mean spirited spiteful woman. I found Mackenzie to be insipid and weak, she hides from Cora in a cupboard! I hated Dylan whom I found rude and controlling with Mackenzie. I just struggled to connect to their characters.

There is a bit of mild intrigue early on but then it's just really hard going. I didn't hate it, but was glad to finish it. Forgettable and lukewarm reading.

2 stars from Booklover Catlady. I hate to give out a low rating but I'm being honest after looking for redeeming elements. Yawn.

I received the book with thanks from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jan.
423 reviews248 followers
February 17, 2016
4.5 stars
How well does anyone know the man they are married too?

Mackenzie's life turns upside down when she loses her husband from complications of a horrible car accident. On his death bed, he whispers to her to go to Philadelphia and find James...but in the whirlwind of his passing and her grief she writes these words off as delusion, his brain playing tricks on him from his injuries.
All this changes when she gets notification about a will that she didn't know existed. Being overseen by an attorney based out of...Philadelphia.

And so starts Mackenzie's journey into her husband's past. A mother-in-law that she thought was dead, long buried secrets, and madness that slowly starts to reveal itself.

This is a well written thriller that sucks you in from page one and keeps you guessing until all is revealed. I had no clue how this would all come together and applaud the author for her ability to keep me on the edge of my seat.

Highly recommend to all suspense lovers, you are in for a treat!!

Thanks goes out to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC for an honest review.
Profile Image for The Behrg.
Author 15 books147 followers
September 6, 2016
"The Book of James" is like ordering a salad at a restaurant and getting a bowl full of lettuce. You can't complain, because you got what you ordered, but there are no trimmings or any of the small details that go into making a salad extraordinary. This just is what it is.

You've got the beginnings of a great mystery, with a dying husband telling his wife that, "As soon as they know I'm dead, they'll come after you." The mystery continues to unfold as Mackenzie learns that almost everything she knows about her husband was a lie.

The first quarter of this book had me intrigued. The writing's crisp, you've got some interesting characters with a lot of dynamics and a ton of potential. Unfortunately, at least for me, it started tail-spinning from there.

Soon Mackenzie is making idiotic decisions that put herself in danger time and time again, for no other reason than that she has to get to the bottom of this "mystery" of "Who is James," part of her husband's last dying words. There's no urgency, characters and events start getting thrown in just because the plotline is stalling, and it never really recovers. The final reveal was so anticlimactic, again with Mackenzie acting in a way that honestly made no sense at that point, that I was just glad to put this one to bed.

A miss in my book, but something fans of cozy mysteries might enjoy more. 2.5 gracious stars.

Profile Image for Jemma.
32 reviews12 followers
May 14, 2015
I am definitely still reeling from this book. ‘The Book of James’ is one of those rare novels that ensnares you from the first word, and keeps you there until the last; I actually finished it all in one sitting. You know a book is good when you have barely moved in a few hours, and it is past midnight when you next check the clock!

The plot speaks volumes for itself and the author delivers all of the mystery and intrigue that is promised from the description – truly this book will not let you down. We are propelled headfirst into the story as Mackenzie Weichmann loses her husband, Nicholas, in a car accident and is perplexed by his last words to ‘find James’. Following the trail, she discovers that the little that she knew of her husband’s life was a lie; though he had told her his parents were dead, she learns his mother is still alive and residing in near isolation in his old family home.
Still grief-stricken by the death of her husband, she reaches out to Cora (his mother) and travels to the family home, where she is immediately confronted with how peculiar her mother-in-law is. Wanting to discover more about her husband’s shadowy past, and to uncover the mystery of his final plea to her, she agrees to stay with Cora in her daunting house and do a little searching. Nothing could have prepared Mackenzie for the layers of secrets and deception surrounding his family, and the lengths they would go to cover it all up. Soon, it all begins to make sense why Nicholas had tried to leave this life behind him, and never said a word to Mackenzie about it. The plot is way too complex to get into the gritty details here (and besides, I would hate to spoil anything) but trust me when I say that it is amazing.

The setting of the old house is perfect, you really become engrossed in the scary atmosphere created by the endless stairs, secret passageways and the general maze-like structure. It made very tense reading, especially when Mackenzie is snooping around the house – we are constantly anxious for her safety. Fear seems to cling to each page, and that awful sense of foreboding is always present; everyone is scared, everyone is secretive and nothing is as it seems. Speaking of which, I found the element of mystery was brilliantly executed – it was just the right amount of secrecy to tease me without being too cryptic. This book truly inspires that yearning to understand that drives you forward, and keeps you impatiently turning the pages - and in my case running out of pages before I had even taken a break from it.

The first chapter really sets the premise for the book, the odd circumstances were really unpredictable and luckily the rest of the book managed to maintain this impulsiveness. I immediately warmed to (and perhaps identified) with Mackenzie, a strong-willed, clumsy and altogether out there character. She was likeable, and even admirable considering the situations she was put in (and yes, let’s face it, she put herself in as well) and I genuinely felt a bond with her, especially towards the end of the book when the threats closed in around her. There was so much emotion involved in the story which I hadn’t anticipated, and it covers such a broad range of interesting notions – the characters in particular were well-rounded and diverse. I loved that their backstories were so intricately covered, it made their motivations and actions all that more convincing and tied in very neatly with the main plot.

All in all, it is quite obvious that I think highly of this piece of literature; I also feel like it would translate very well into a film - I’d certainly go and see it. There is so much more I could say about this book, I have hardly scratched the surface but my praise for it is genuinely heartfelt. ‘The Book of James’ is inspiring and complex and I enjoyed every second of the daring plot; it took me through twists and turns I couldn’t have even imagined. But don’t take my word for it, read this book.

I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Ellen Green.
Author 5 books169 followers
May 26, 2015
This is a story that developed in sections. I did not expect this to come together the way it did. My goal was to write not just a whodunnit or a what-happened, but for the reader to truly understand why the characters made the choices they did. (and some of those choices were horrific.) I hope I was successful in this. I was as happy as I could be when it was finished but could have spent a lifetime making changes here and there. I'm giving it 5 stars because it was a labor of love and that love carried through to convince me to publish it. I really like feedback. Positive, negative, it doesn't matter. I'm always receptive and open.
Profile Image for Carol Ann Tomko.
22 reviews
August 5, 2015

Could not put the book down! I could feel the environment! The characters so palpably real! I'm still reeling from the outcome!
Profile Image for Sarah Pickering.
15 reviews
March 25, 2019
Blind trust... isn’t it amazing how many people in our lives we offer that to? But what if the person that you trust the most turns out to have a life filled with secrets? A past that turns out to be dangerous even for you in the present. “The Book of James” offered the perfect amount of suspense, emotion, and thrill. Now I can’t wait to pick up another Ellen Green book!
Profile Image for Denise.
1,956 reviews81 followers
June 14, 2015
2.0 out of 5 stars -- Melodramatic attempt at suspense is overwrought and mostly irritating. I picked this because I thought the synopsis sounded interesting and I like a good mystery. This story was so implausible on many levels, but the worst part was that I hated the character of Mackenzie. I just wanted to shake her as she floundered from one peril to the next while investigating what had happened all those years ago when her recently deceased husband lived in the house. Many readers will figure out the big secret fairly quickly. The most intriguing aspect of this novel was the description of Cora's old family mansion and the surrounding grounds. The romance was predictable and ridiculous given the situation, and I was just glad when I finally finished the book and could shut the door on this crazy tale.

Thank you to NetGalley for the e-book ARC to review.
Profile Image for Jason Schneeberger.
263 reviews7 followers
May 29, 2015
I received this revised edition from Amazon Publishing and NetGalley for an honest review. The official release date is June 30th 2015.

Murder. Madness. Betrayal. Greed. Deception. All of these things play a huge part in the mystery that unfolds in THE BOOK OF JAMES.

I loved the way the story unfolded, in that you get bits and pieces of the mystery revealed to you with each chapter, pretty much right from the beginning. As the lead in the story, Mackenzie, realizes that she never really knew her husband and begins to unravel the real man behind the mask and the wealthy warped family that he came from , you start to see the intricate web of deception and greed that he was pulled into and really had no choice.

This was a really good mystery that had a constant tone of dread and gave you an uneasy feeling that something bad was going to happen at any minute. From the mansion that Mackenzie stays in with her bizarre mother-in-law while trying to solve her dead husbands riddles, to her lawyers father who is somehow involved with the whole scheme, the tension builds as the story is told and with each revealed revelation, Mackenzie is closer to the truth, but also closer to mortal danger.

Fans of mystery novels will have a blast with this well written novel that will be sure to keep you up, late into the night as you lie to yourself and say, 'just one more chapter'. I give this one a 4.5/5
Profile Image for Ellen.
621 reviews46 followers
August 31, 2015
Just before he dies from his injuries from a car accident, Nick whispers to his wife McKenzie: "As soon as they know I'm dead, they'll come after you. Don't trust any of them. Find the house. The only way to end this is to get to them first. Find James."

The Book of James has everything a great gothic novel should have---an innocent young widow whose life has been upended and needs to get answers about her beloved husband, who apparently had been keeping lots of secrets. The answers to her questions can only be found from the mother-in-law, who her husband had told her was dead, but who actually lives in a dark mansion with secret tunnels so old they had once been used by the Underground Railroad. Next door to this mother-in-law lives a crazy (or is she?) old relative with secrets of her own.

This was a fun read with lots of twists and turns before all secrets are finally revealed.
Profile Image for Sandra Tober spahr.
64 reviews1 follower
September 4, 2013
Listening to the audiobook version... Ugh. This may be a great story, but one would never know as the horrible narration is just killing it. It sounds like it's being read by en elderly drunk lady, sorry. Regrets that maybe this woman has suffered a stroke or has some type of disability, but this person should not be narrating this book. I have listened to books by various narrators with even the strongest accents, & this is far more difficult to listen to. Shame on me for not listening to the sample though. Even my husband took a listen & agreed it is awful.
Profile Image for Justin Robinson.
Author 35 books151 followers
February 13, 2016
There was absolutely nothing wrong with this book. It was more a situation where I was expecting one thing and got another. In this case, what sounded like Raymond Chandler ended up being VC Andrews. This isn't the fault of the book, or the writer, but it's nice to know what you're getting beforehand. No one wants to take a nice big spoonful of vanilla pudding only to find that it's mayo.

The plot construction was quite good, the steady revelation of secrets well done. The writing itself was workmanlike, just enough to get you from here to there.
Profile Image for Joyce.
640 reviews5 followers
August 13, 2018
Wonderful psychological thriller that kept me guessing through most of the book, and even my guess at who "James" was turned out wrong. This story is well-paced, one I'd recommend to all of my book lovin' friends.
Profile Image for Sluserfive.
136 reviews14 followers
January 12, 2018
It was a wonderful location

Where the secret ninja academy located. Where the ninjas are getting trained by sensei to save the future word. Ninja storm
Profile Image for Sarah.
58 reviews
April 27, 2019
Page Turner

Every family has secrets but not as twisted as this nother. Definitely worth the read and it keeps your interest till the very end.
Profile Image for Tammy Fowler.
6 reviews1 follower
June 26, 2019
Great suspense.

I didn't want to put it down. Very visual in describing the scene and the characters were very relatable. I felt like I was there.
Profile Image for Gabby.
204 reviews42 followers
December 28, 2013
The Book Of James by Ellen Green is a tightly crafted story about how much we really know about the people closest to us, in particular, the spouse in a relationship. Mackenzie is married to Nick, and while she feels he keeps his distance from her emotionally as well as with details from his past, she really has no idea how much about Nick she doesn't know. Until she and Nick are involved in a traffic accident which Nick barely survives. Mackenzie was driving the car, and while the accident was in no way her fault, she feels horribly guilty.

Before Nick is wheeled into the operating room to receive surgery to save his life, Nick reveals information to Mac of which she was previously ignorant. He tells her that his family will be a threat to her, although he doesn't get the opportunity to expand on that statement. He also tells her she must visit his childhood home, and that she must look for James. Mac was under the impression from what Nick told her over their 5 year marriage that Nick had no living family members, and she was never told anything about someone named James. Nick dies on the operating table, so any information Mac hoped to get firsthand from Nick dies with him.

Sure enough, after Nick's funeral, Mac receives notification from someone claiming to be Nick's attorney, and her presence is requested in Philadelphia, the location of Nick's family home, to discuss Nick's will. After calling Nick's attorney and being assured he will not discuss any details about Nick over the phone, Mac hastily packs a bag and goes to Philadelphia.

After finding out some staggering information about Nick, Mac decides to spend a longer period of time in Philadelphia to see the ancestral home as well as arranging to meet Nick's mother, Cora Whitfield, who lives in the house Mac considers to be more of a fortress. Mac believes access to the family home and to Cora will help her to solve the mysterious circumstances surrounding Nick's past. What she hadn't counted on was Cora's resistance to any efforts on Mac's part to form a closer relationship. Mac also had no idea just how much of a fortress the family residence turns out to be.

The story continues with Mac trying to get more information about her husband's family while everyone who might help her blocks her every effort. The story has many twists and turns on it's way to a very well done ending I did not expect until I was practically upon it. For me, this book was as close to a perfect mystery as any book in this genre gets. The family story was fascinating as it was revealed, and it was difficult exactly who to pin the label of villain on. About the time I'd settled that issue in my own mind, something else would happen to turn the tables once again. This made it difficult if not impossible to put the book down.

I was given an ARC of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review. In my honest opinion this book is an excellent choice for that gift card someone got for Christmas, a great gift for a mystery lover, or a treat-yourself goodie just because you deserve it. I will be looking for more books from Ellen Green. She's become one of my favorite authors.
Profile Image for Dianne.
320 reviews155 followers
July 9, 2012
Recently, I've been reading young adult novels nonstop. For months, I read nothing but YA and now, I feel saturated. I signed up for this book blog tour because the synopsis got me interested. I thought to myself that maybe I should take a break from YA and get back to my usual reads. If I'm not reading YA, I read mysteries and thrillers. I wasn't really sure what the tone of the book will be but the synopsis really got to me and so I started reading it. And boy, I would never regret doing so.

I will keep this review spoiler-free but I just want to emphasize that this book is amazing. Sorry for my limited vocabulary but it is truly amazing for me. I longed for this type of books after all the shallowness and fluff I've read the past months. This novel had a tightly woven plot, characters you want to know and twists and turns you just want to get lost into. I was loving the tone of the novel, how Ellen Green wrote it. It was fantastic. I was reading it on the Kindle app of my phone at past midnight, alone in the common area of my dorm, and I got really scared that I decided to just sleep. Only to continue reading because it's that good. It wasn't like the part that I was reading was scary but the feel and the ungodly hour might have been too much to handle at that time. What can I say, I'm a scaredy cat!

The plot did not lack in anything. I was really pleased and I enjoyed reading this book so much. It did not disappoint. The characters were mysterious and you would do anything to just get to the next page and finish this book asap. Gah, I know I toss this word around loosely but I think I love this book. I'm also a fan of stories that get us right at the conflict. No background at the start, just smack us with the problem. Nick's dead and what now? The author did not dwell on Nick and Mackenzie's life before the accident. He's dead and that's where the story actually starts. I really dig that. This novel never stopped with the twists. When you think all twists were already exhausted, Ellen Green will surprise you with more. The ending was nicely tied up, no loose ends, without delving into a deus ex machina and the sappiness. This story was just pure win.

I truly recommend this book for people who yearn for plot-driven narratives, characters that will got you twisted in agony over wanting to know what's their deal and the great writing style.
Profile Image for Marissa.
167 reviews16 followers
July 8, 2012
Wow, this was a thriller, let me first say that. The story/plot blew me away; it was creatively well written and well thought out. There were twists and turns, and the story seemed unpredictable at times, which I liked, as it created even more suspense, and I definitely was flipping the pages, as I wanted to immediately know more. The characters were well developed and seemed realistic. Some have gone through horrific upbringings, and you will read which characters(s) those were. Mackenzie to me seemed realistic, as it seems through the story, the man she had known and married for almost five years seems like someone else, and as you read, you will know what I mean. There are secrets at Nick's childhood home, and Mackenzie wants to know, and her new friend, Dylan, helps her solve some of the mysteriousness that the Mansion portrays, the mansion where Nick was brought up. All around, this was simply a good suspenseful, mystery read, and if you like those genres, you will very much so like this Novel. I recommend it!
Profile Image for Harold Kasselman.
Author 2 books74 followers
September 14, 2013
This is an extraordinarily well written mystery thriller about a family's secret. It's hard to believe that this is the author's first novel. The abundant descriptions of the characters and the locale make the reader feel like they are on location. The intricate plot revolves around the courageous efforts of the protagonist Mackenzie to untangle the riddle of her dying husband's last wish.
That quest brings her to Chestnut Hill and the prestigious old moneyed Monroe mansion, the home of Mac's former mother-in-law. The author carefully and thoughtfully creates a foreboding mood between the mansion's many tunnels, locked doors, and the openly hostile behavior of Cora. The tale is intricate but the reader is never confused. Instead the reader is confident they know the secret: until they're repeatedly found to be wrong.
The last 25% of the story will have the reader screaming at Mac to get the hell out of there. You need to read it to see if she does. This is a fabulous novel especially for a first time novelist
Profile Image for Debbie Sweeney.
27 reviews7 followers
February 22, 2014
The premise was very intriguing and knowing the setting,well, I just had to check out the book. The story took quite a bit longer to develop than I would have liked, in that, as soon as the suspense was building, the chapter drops off into a totally different scene, which I would liken to a commercial. There is a hefty amount of dialogue which makes this book ready for a screenplay plus repetitions in the story made me skip through some of the explanations. On the up side, the twists and turns were really quite exciting. Just when you know the truth, you realize you don't know it all which, of course, keeps you reading. It was definitely a twist on the final whodunit. Pretty dang dark. The Book of James references are more than quite clever. Twisted characters, muddy woods, dark tunnels against a backdrop of such a neighborhood as Chestnut Hill - how well do we really know our neighbors? The house was the anchor for it all. Four stars for the story.
Profile Image for Kim.
1,977 reviews49 followers
June 30, 2015
A thriller that starts when Mackenzie’s husband is in a bad car crash. He tells her she must go to Philidelphia and find James and that she may be in danger from someone from his past. She discovers that his mum is still alive and that she really didn’t know her husband at all. His mum seems desperate to keep the secrets from his childhood well hidden- but Mackenzie wants to solve everything.
She finds photos that suggest a dark history and finds hidden messages in his bible in the Book of James. The house itself is like another character- dark and spooky hiding secret passageways and lots of stairs leading to different rooms.
A great read.
Many thanks to Net Galley.
Profile Image for Janet Martinez.
Author 8 books3 followers
July 13, 2015
I bought this book because of the title, but it wasn't what I thought it would be. It's an excellent mystery with engaging characters and a terrific plot. The basis of a plot is a secret the main character has to find out about to fulfill her dead husband's final wish. I thought I had it figured out a couple of times, but when I got to the end, I was totally wrong. I highly recommend this book and I'll be looking for more from this author.
Profile Image for Harriette Orr.
33 reviews
July 28, 2016
The book starts off with an accident and a last request from a husband for his wife to find James. As the wife starts her exploration into her husbands past she finds that their life as she knew it was based on lies. He had kept his true early life from her.
It is a slow plot with weird characters . It was a good read with lots of description.
The ending only becomes predictable as the plot is slowly revealed.
Profile Image for Evi.
683 reviews8 followers
August 5, 2015
I read this book in one day. Absolutely could not put it down. After a devastating car accident, Nick whispers his last words to his wife ... "As soon as they know I'm dead, they'll come after you."

What's not to like: a creepy old stone mansion, a mother-in-law you were told was dead, and a massive inheritance.

Profile Image for Jennifer.
297 reviews
October 12, 2015
There's just something disturbing about the thought of a woman sleeping with a man within 6 weeks of her husband's devastating death. I couldn't get past that. This book would have stood on it's own without a romantic element; I wish the author hadn't gone there. It made me lose all sympathy for the main character.
2 reviews
June 28, 2014
This is one of those books that seemed long at first, but then I didn't want it to end. The ending was satisfying, couldn't have been better. I personally loved the main character. She was strong, determined but also very vulnerable. I'd recommend this book to anyone that loves suspense.
8 reviews
December 7, 2014
So predictable

I almost stopped reading at several points throughout this book. It was very predictable and Mackenzie wasn't a very captivating protagonist. The book redeemed itself a bit at the end though.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 362 reviews

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