Updated: April 11, 2013 6:40AM
Reading Jodi Picoult novels is sort of like watching “Law & Order.” There’s a fairly routine formula, a couple of twists, as well as a courtroom scene. And more often than not, it works.
In “The Storyteller” (Atria, $28.99), Picoult breaks the pattern to a degree, and fails, badly.
The novel is about Sage Singer, a young woman from a Jewish background who becomes friends with Josef, an older German man in town. Soon, Josef asks Sage to help him die, a fate he says he deserves because he was a Nazi officer.
Sage decides instead to report Josef to the authorities, who encourage her to find out more about him. In the process, Sage learns more about her grandmother Minka’s own story of surviving the Holocaust, a tale that — in an unsurprising surprise — has links to that of Josef’s.
In typical Picoult style, each chapter is told through the eyes of a different character. At the heart of the book is the tale of Minka — a captivating, haunting, gut-wrenching Holocaust story. It is the strongest part of the book, and a big chunk of it.
But the rest of “The Storyteller” is a mess. There are too many coincidences, too many unnecessary twists and too many quirky characters that distract more than anything else.
Jodi Picoult has several local ticketed events: 7 p.m. March 15 in Lisle (call 630-355-2665 for tickets); 1 p.m. March 16 in Libertyville (847-234-4420); 7 p.m. March 16 in Naperville (630-355-2665).