Dead Heat: A BookShot, by James Patterson and Lee Stone

Seven stars

To commemorate the Rio Games, James Patterson and Lee Stone present this sports-themed BookShot that pushes police work to its limits as the Olympics forge onwards. Detective Rafael Carvalho is just over two weeks shy of retirement and looking for the easiest path into a life of relaxation. When a call wakes him in the early morning hours, it is anything but social. Carvalho is summoned to work by his partner, Vitoria Paz, in a case that requires not only his expertise, but an under the radar approach as the world is watching. An Australian athlete has gone missing from the Olympic Village hours before the Opening Ceremonies of the Rio Olympics. When Carvalho and Paz arrive to investigate, they work with few leads and even fewer ideas as to where Tim Gilmore might have gone. While attending the Ceremonies later that day, Gilmore appears with his delegation, though something is off. It is only when he charges the VIP section of the stadium that Carvalho must take things into his own hands, which has tragic results for Gilmore and places the aging detective in the most precarious of positions. From hereon in, Carvalho and Paz begin a thorough investigation until another athlete goes missing, still unsure of Gilmore’s motive. As the investigation progresses, more athletes are pulled into the investigation, their lives sacrificed for reasons as yet unclear. What might be causing this erratic behaviour and how does an unlisted mobile number found amongst the personal effects of two athletes tie it all together? Patterson and Stone present some high-impact writing that puts both Private novels surrounding the Olympics to shame. A great read between watching your favourite events in the summer of 2016.

In their second collaborative BookShots work, Patterson and Stone present another winner. Utilising a protagonist that Patterson knows well, the much-invested detective, the story clips along with a decent cross-section of characters. Using the Rio Games as a backdrop is not only useful, but essential to the story’s plot, though the grandeur of the Games does not overshadow the police work embedded in each chapter. The story is fresh, even if Olympic-based stories are not a first for Patterson, to the point that it does not come across as hokey or stale too quickly. The narrative remains crisp and the reader is not left dreading the time invested. Most importantly, the reader is able to enjoy this short thriller in a few hours while not missing a beat of the action from around Rio. Stone brings out the best in Patterson, or perhaps Patterson allows Stone to shine, and this is one author whose work should be sought out by curious readers outside of the BookShot experiment. 

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Stone for another successful sports-themed BookShot. I think this is a great partnership and hope more BookShots are in the works for you two, or perhaps a full-length novel. There is much promise here!