1st Case, by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Seven stars

In another of their collaborative efforts, James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts bring their ideas together to craft an interesting story that will keep the reader flipping pages until the final chapter. Angela Hoots may not have had the end to the MIT experience she hoped, but her computer skills are off the charts, much like her intelligence. When she is offered an internship with the FBI, Angela jumps at the opportunity and is soon placed in the middle of an intense investigation. A high school girl is found murdered in her home and the key might be embedded somewhere on her cellphone. Angela begins exploring what might be loaded on the device, where she soon discovers a secret app that promotes a discreet chatting platform. Inside these messages are piles of suggestive conversations that turn graphic and present a rendezvous that could have led to murder. Angela learns not only what she can about the app, but that malware is also involved, which helps the killer track their prey before striking. Working a number of angles, Angela finds herself on the dark web—that elusive location where nothing is tracked and anything goes—honing in on a cyberterrorist group that could be leading the charge in their own twisted little game. When Angela presents her progress to superiors, they praise her, but continue an hands-off approach that leads this rookie down quite the path. Targeted for what she knows and how close she may be getting to opening a can of worms, Angela’s life, as well as that of her family, could be in danger. This first case has surely turned out to be something Angela will never forget, though at this rate, death could erase it all. A decent story that taps into many of the current buzz topics making their way through media outlets. Recommended to those who enjoy some of Patterson’s faster stories as well as readers who need an easier read for travel or beach time.

While this seems to be a long and productive collaborative partnership, I have never read any of the Patterson/Tebbetts work before this piece. The story held together well and touched on a number of interesting areas within the cyber world, though I would not say it explored anything new for more. Angela Hoots comes across as a decent character whose grit and determination was not dampened after being expelled from her grad work. She landed on her feet and has accepted this internship with ease. While Angela knows her stuff, her age and lack of social maturity shines through in this book, as she takes risks and dabbles in what she thinks is romance, only to be sobered up with a few pointed remarks by those around her. The attentive reader will see where Angela uses some personal idols to help create the strong woman she wishes to be, without getting too bogged down with trying to fit into preconceived idea of how to be successful. The authors do well with how they have created her, leaving the reader to judge whether she passes off the early 20 something well. Other characters serve their purpose in the book and help to add to the intensity, as needed. The story, while not entirely unique, did prove to be engaging and left me wondering if there could be a return for some of these characters within the FBI framework, though I am always reticent to encourage too many Patterson series, as quality always suffers with the more books that affix his name to them in any given year. With trademark Patterson short chapters that push the story along, the book read easily and kept me wanting to turn a few more pages. I was impressed with what must have been some of the Tebbetts influences and will have to look into some of his other work, though I will likely want to focus on those penned for adults, if possible.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Tebbetts, for entertaining me throughout and leaving me to wonder what you two might have in the works.

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