The Red Book (Black Book #2), by James Patterson and David Ellis

Eight stars

I admit that I have have struggled with James Patterson’s writing for a number of years, as books appear for sale faster than anything I have ever seen. Quality suffers, but money surely flows into the Patterson bank accounts, causing those who respect a good book to feel a slight offence. Whenever Patterson works alongside David Ellis, the quality appears high and there stories rise above many of the other novels that adorn the Patterson name. This was another stunner, keeping the reader gripped until things come to an abrupt halt in the closing chapters, resonating long after putting the book aside. Ellis surely makes it clear that some Patterson collaborations are worth a second look!

Detective Billy Harney has been through a great deal over the last while and all he wants is a strong distraction. He’s pulled into the Chicago PD’s Special Operations Section (SOS), an elite group that looks to bring hope to a city that has been ravaged by crime and corruption. It’s a start, and after many of the things that Harvey has seen, it’s just what the doctor’s ordered.

After a drive-by shooting on a known drug corner leaves a woman dead, Harney is keen to use his position on the SOS to help find answers, some of which are deeply seeded in politics, something on which Chicago thrives. Harney and his family have a strong presence on the CPD and use finely-tuned instincts to work cases that do not appear as straightforward.

Harney learns that there are numerous victims lying in the morgue, all with a common tattoo. What looked like a drug-deal gone wrong now has a deeper and perhaps more sinister criminal element. All three were women, working the streets. While a pimp angle is possible, these women are foreign, leaving Harney to wonder if human trafficking might me more the crime of the day.

As Harney is keen to ask the tough questions, he turns over a few rocks that reveal more than answers. By working this case and confronting those who may be behind the killings, Harney has to face a dark secret of his own, one that could cripple him forever.

The Patterson-Ellis connection has never let me down in the past and this novel proves the chemistry between them remains strong. Well-paced writing and a sensational plot prove to me that there’s a great deal of potential when the reader invests time in this sort of novel. While I am not convinced that Patterson has changed his ways (alas, the book titles keep flooding the market), I know how to hone my searches to find golden nuggets.

Billy Harney impresses in this book and connects with the reader from the opening lines of the novel. His grit and determination emerge, assisted by a strong cast of characters begging to be noticed. While police procedurals are a dime a dozen, the authors craft a protagonist the reader wants to know better. Great backstory is balanced with some development throughout, even as Harney’s darkest secrets come out.

With so many novels on the market, set in the ‘big city’, it’s tough to make a mark on readers who seek something unique. The authors may not have something that will leave an indelible mark, but their style is sure to impress the reader who loves the genre. A strong narrative flows throughout and keeps the reader on their toes, with momentum increasing with every page turn. There’s something dark, yet hopeful, as the story progresses and I could not get enough, devouring the book as swiftly as time permitted. I’ll keep my eye on these two authors, as I have in the past for their collaborative efforts, and hope the series continues in the coming years!

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Ellis, for high quality and easy reading!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons