Red Alert (NYPD Red #5), by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

Eight stars

Working to continue their successful series, James Patterson and Marshall Karp return with a fifth novel in the NYPD Red series. The premise of NYPD Red is to protect or investigate the city’s most elite, offering a protective barrier from the masses. Detectives Zach Jordan and Kylie MacDonald are well versed with the job and have seen almost everything the city has to offer. While serving as part of the mayor’s security detail, Jordan and MacDonald witness a bomb explode at a fundraiser, killing one man and sending shrapnel all over. Working with few leads and at a significant disadvantage, Jordan and MacDonald try to find answers where none exist. As they are headed home, awaiting some of the evidence to be processed, the detectives are called to the scene of another potential crime. A high-profile New Yorker known for her kinky sexual interests may have died during auto-erotic asphyxiation, though there are a few indications that the safety measures were not in place and she was murdered. Dog-tired and unable to piece anything together, Jordan and MacDonald agree to meet after a few hours’ rest, when they can think straight. Upon returning somewhat rejuvenated, they learn that wiring at the scene is the trademark of a well-known Aussie bomber who has been locked away in a Thai prison for over a decade. Soon another bomb explodes and all hell breaks loose. While Jordan and MacDonald try to make sense of it all, their ‘sensual’ case gains legs when a video surfaces involving the victim and a respected judge with a request for blackmail money. The judge seems not to care, proud that he’s been caught on tape but NYPD Red cannot let this go without some action. A bumbling attempt to pay the random and trap the killer goes wrong, but there is little time to waste, as a new lead sends Jordan and MacDonald to the other side of the world for some interviews they never thought possible. With two key crimes on their plate and the mayor screaming for closure on both cases, NYPD Red will so whatever it takes to up their solve rate, even if it costs them their jobs. Patterson and Karp are brilliant in their delivery and series fans will surely love this story that does not let up until the final page.

I have long been a fan of the series and feel this is one that Patterson has done well over the last few years. The delivery is both succinct and detailed at the same time, keeping the reader engaged and guessing as the cases unfold. As always our protagonist detectives offer up their witty repartee while also finding themselves in the middle of some personal development. The platonic and sexual tension builds throughout and keeps the reader wondering if something will happen and both sides will finally acknowledge what has been brewing for so long (and was in place for a while). The secondary characters keep the crimes charged and permit the reader to see the cases develop in unique ways, allowing the story to ebb and flow as needed. Newer crimes and unique presentations keep the story from going stale. Patterson’s trademark short chapters allows the reader to push through this piece in short order, keeping them entertained without being too fanciful. Karp does well in the collaboration and the reader can surely hope for more in the coming years by these two, who have a wonderful series that continues to gain momentum.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Karp, for another great addition to the series. I hope to see more in the series soon, which seemed to take a hiatus for a while.

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