Dead Man Running, by James Patterson and Christopher Farnsworth

Eight stars

In this political thriller, James Patterson and Christopher Farnsworth team up to create a high-impact BookShot story to entertain the reader for a few hours. Dr. Randall Beck enjoys his work as a psychiatrist, helping some of the most stressed out people who are keen to save the world. When a new client enters his office, Beck senses that there is something especially troubling going on. As the client departs, he is gunned down on the sidewalk, uttering a single word to Beck before he expires. Beck, uncertain what he ought to do, is soon approached by the Secret Service, though will not reveal anything passed along during patient-doctor exchanges. Beck finds himself placed under arrest for reasons that remain unclear to him, though he gets the feeling there is something he’s not being told. After he is able to escape, he tells his story to a friend and colleague, before trying to communicate with his client’s wife. Things become a massive game of cat and mouse, before Beck is accused of trying to kill the president at an upcoming debate. Now on the run for his life and unsure who he can trust, Beck must hope that the terminal tumour in his brain kills him before a bullet to the back of the head. Explosive in its delivery and quick-paced to keep the reader hooked from the early going, BookShot fans and thriller junkies alike will love this piece.

These are the types of stories I feel BookShots were made to depict. There is so much going on that only the rapid succession of short chapters and cliffhanger moments can truly give the story the justice it deserves. Patterson and Farnsworth pack so much into a short piece that the reader has no time to breathe or even blink. Randall Beck is an interesting character, plucked from his day job and placed in the centre of an assassination plot that has parts of the Secret Service turning on one another. The pace permits the reader to learn nothing of Beck’s backstory, but a little development as he faces death on a few occasions. The secondary characters keep the story moving and pave the way for the explosive finish that is to pass by the final few chapters. The story, by no means unique, is told in a wonderful way to keep things moving and leaving little to the imagination. The reader will love the quick turns, though the bodies pile up as the plot takes unexpected turns. Still, I can only hope there are more BookShots out there that tell of something equally as exciting.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Farsworth, for such a wonderful piece. It buoys my spirits and has me hoping you’ll come back soon to work on another project.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: