Private Rio: The Games (Private #11), by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan

Seven stars

In the weeks leading up to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, Patterson and Sullivan released this thriller from the Private series, shining a light on some of the major issues that have been reported by media outlets for years. When Jack Morgan attended the World Cup in 2014, Private did well at keeping the event secure in Rio. However, while everyone turned to the football (soccer) pitch, two poor Brazilian children died from a mysterious virus, Hydra, but received no coverage. At the World Cup’s Closing Ceremonies, one man was infected with Hydra, thanks to a doctor who sought to shine some light on the poor of Brazil, but even this was covered-up as Rio began its twenty-four month countdown to an even larger party. By the summer of 2016, Morgan is back in Rio, this time to enjoy the Olympics and provide some security consultation. However, when a rich benefactor contacts him after a family kidnapping, Morgan rushes to help and tries to keep things out of the media, days before the Opening Ceremonies. While he chases down an outrageous ransom demand, Morgan has hopes that this will not be a repeat of the drama he undertook in London four years before. Meanwhile, not feeling there was enough coverage of Rio and its poor, who are forced to live in slums, a virologist is prepared to unleash something that is sure to grab headlines. Having worked on Hydra, it is now more virulent than ever and has shown interesting results in experiments. As Morgan works alongside one of his Private Rio agents to deliver the ransom, the drop goes poorly, allowing the kidnappers to use their own political platform to expose some of the corruption the Olympics seeks to hide. However, it is the virus and plans to spread it during the Opening Ceremonies that sobers Morgan and forces him to rush to discover the ultimate plan. As the world watches, unaware of the major panic that could be unleashed, Private must reach a man who is past rational thinking. A fast-paced novel that leaves nothing in the tank and stirs up curiosity in the largest (and most expensive) sporting event(s) in the world.

While this series has received some criticism for all the permutations it has taken, when Sullivan teams up to direct the plot, things seem to develop successfully. I have come to find that the characters are a little better presented, the plots a little quicker (even if they can get hokey), and the dialogue more along the lines of what I am used to seeing. While this is by no means a stellar piece of literature, it serves its purpose to entertain and keep Jack Morgan from becoming too stale. What is ahead for Private, no one knows for sure, but this could be another step towards Patterson’s rejuvenation, as he lends his name to something with a strong foundation.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Sullivan for creating another thriller that centres around a major event, while not shying away from some of the social issues that plague the background.