Private Paris (Private #10), by James Patterson and Mark T. Sullivan

Seven stars

As the Private series continues to grow, Patterson and Sullivan dive into the always scandalous world of Paris and its seedy underbelly. While making a short stop to check on Private Paris, Jack Morgan is surprised to hear from one of his longtime friends in Los Angeles. The man’s granddaughter is in Paris and has been dodging some drug dealers, who have their sights set on her. Morgan and head of Private Paris, Louis Langlois, begin searching and are able to find Kimberly Kopchinski, using a pseudonym to secure her at the same hotel as Morgan. However, Morgan and Langlois are soon pulled into another case, when a man of some importance is found murdered. Playing a territorial two-step with La Crime, France’s National Police Force, Morgan is able to have Private work in conjunction with the authorities to capture the group identifying itself as AB-16. When another body turns up and the same graffiti tag is left, Morgan turns to a local graffiti art expert, who is able to offer some assistance. More bodies pile up, forcing Morgan and Langlois to come up with a motive of sorts tied to the cultural importance of those who have been slain. As the investigation progresses, young Kimberly is captured from her hotel room, forcing Morgan and Langlois to divide their attention between both cases. They are left juggling a great deal, working with La Crime, though also trying not to violate any rules or judicial procedures. When things come to a head, even Morgan admits that he could not have guessed the pent-up anger that led to AB-16’s plot or what its mastermind has in store for the city in his grand finale. A truly intriguing addition to the series that will keep readers curious to the end while offering some of the more political narratives in the series to date.

There is no doubt that current situations in Paris, France, and all of Europe helped shape the narrative Patterson and Sullivan offer to readers. Xenophobia and Islamophobia are rampant through the story, though it serves to educate the reader, rather than provide a platform for hatred and division. From what little I know of French culture or sentiments, these are true feelings echoed within some of the arrondissements around the city and within some of the upper echelons of French Government. As with any push, there is sure to be a shove back, which the authors illustrate through the central antagonists in this story and through the AB-16 movement. Capturing more the sentiment that has existed in the city over the past 20-30 years than the anti-Muslim rhetoric headed up by some within America, the story allows readers to understand the animosity from a new perspective. Using local police and a Private protagonist who can educate Jack Morgan, the story earns some gravitas and substantial foundation, where some past Patterson novels have been weak. The settings, dialogue, and plot all strengthen the larger story and push readers into the seedier aspects of this City of Love. I was highly impressed with the approach and the way in which Patterson and Sullivan laid out their arguments, offering both ‘sides’ a chance on the soapbox.  

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Sullivan for this novel. It adds credence to a series that has had moments of utter weakness and disarray.