Texas Outlaw (Rory Yates #2), by James Patterson and Aaron Bourelle

Eight stars

As James Patterson and Aaron Bourelle collaborate on another novel, the rural streets of Texas become their central focus. Texas Ranger Rory Yates has another adventure to face head-on, though he might have wished he just stayed at home. While in a bank over the lunch hour, Rory Yates comes upon a robbery. Quick to act, Yates fires to quell the storm, only to find himself in a great deal of trouble from his superiors. While the entire event was captured on film and is now making its way through social media, the Texas Rangers want to cool things off and send Yates to a small Texas town to help with a mysterious death. A local woman has died of an apparent anaphylactic attack, but the fact that she told a friend she had to speak with the police has begun to raise some flags. Tasked with working alongside one of the local detectives, Yates begins poking around, though he soon discovers that he is not welcome. Butting heads with one of the local oil barons, Yates must try to solve this case before things get out of hand. Once one of the local oil workers is shot, Yates realises that this is no longer just fun and games. Evidence of the shooting takes a turn that Yates could not have expected, leaving him to bend the rules in order to help someone escape the clutches of the law. This is frowned upon and Yates becomes an outlaw himself, as his superior makes his way to this small town to tie off the loose ends. Refusing the stand down and remaining one step ahead of those looking for him, Yates stumbles upon something that might blow the case wide open. Patterson and Bourelle work well together in this piece, taking twang out of the story and providing a palatable piece worth reading. Recommended to those who like their thrillers with a southern twist, as well as the reader who enjoys most of what James Patterson pens these days.

While I find that some Patterson writing is hit and miss, this one ended up being a decent read for me. Paired with Aaron Bourelle, Patterson returns to offer another instalment of the Texas Ranger series in which young Rory Yates is at the helm. Juggling some stardom while on the job with a girlfriend whose Nashville ambitions are more than her interest in sharing a life with someone, Yates must work through his latest assignment in rural Texas. He uses his crime fighting gumption to dig below the surface, while also having to handle the magnetism he has for those around him. This mix could prove deadly, if not handled properly. Other characters create a wonderful mix of personalities in this piece, allowing the story to push forward in many ways. The authors use a wonderful mix to create a multi-pronged story that is worth the reader’s time and effort. The story remains on point throughout and seems to be the perfect read for those who need a filler between deeper and more challenging reads. I enjoyed the piece, even if it was not one of Patterson’s strongest collaborative efforts. The short chapters helped propel things along and kept me wanting more, which I am sure is in the works.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Bourelle, for a decent piece. I am pleased to see how well you work together.

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

Texas Ranger, by James Patterson and Aaron Bourelle

Six stars

In another of his endless collaborations, James Patterson has called on Aaron Bourelle to work alongside him on this standalone novel. Part murder mystery, part protagonist self-discovery, this piece takes the reader down to the heart of Texas. Rory Yates is part of the elite Texas Rangers, one of only two hundred in the entire state. Best known for his quick draw capabilities, Yates has found himself in a few situations of shooting first and asking questions later. After one such event, he takes a call from his ex-wife, Anne, who’s been getting creepy messages and items left on her property. Yates makes his way across the state to check on her, only to find her dead body. Yates is soon cleared as a suspect, but has an idea who might be responsible and pushes the local police to investigate. While he may be a Ranger, this is one case that Rory Yates will not be welcome to join, officially. Back in his hometown and trying to chase down leads, Yates reconnects with his family and some of his former sweethearts, all of whom help stir up scores of emotions and memories from his time as a child and being married to Anne. With a killer on the loose, Yates cannot let his past cloud the present, even if it means turning down new love, or rekindling a past flame. When another person close to Yates turn up dead, stalked in the same manner, Yates is sure the killer has him in the crosshairs and will do whatever it takes, legal or not, to end this. Patterson and Bourelle have an interesting one-off novel here that seeks to pull the reader in from the outset. Perfect for those who have travel plans or need some beach reading. Patterson collaborations always fill a gap between substantive reads and this one is decent enough to recommend without hesitation.

I have come to realise that while many see the name James Patterson and flock to the book, I tend to give it a second thought, having been on the rollercoaster ride that is the Patterson Express. One can never know what to expect, particularly with one-off novels. That said, Bourelle has made a name for himself with some stronger collaborative efforts—Patterson’s BookShots—and so I trust something of a higher caliber when I see their joint efforts. This story worked well and kept me reading, which says a lot when it comes to the massive pile of books I have to read. Rory Yates is an interesting protagonist, by no means unique, but the spin put on this rough exterior cop is one that kept me intrigued throughout. I was not sure how Patterson and Bourelle might have approached him, but they did well to offer a hard-nosed man who demands respect with a soft side when it comes to those he loves. Yates has that ‘nothing will stop me’ mentality, perfect for a stubborn cop, though does not reek of ‘redneck traditionalism’, should such a stereotype deserve a formal label. The handful of other characters who influence Yates’ progress in the novel serve to eke out interesting tidbits about the protagonist and his backstory without taking the reader down too many rabbit holes and losing momentum throughout the narrative. The story is surely interesting, as it gives the reader a glimpse into how a cop might handle a murder investigation of someone close to them, though keeps a unique angle as the narrative progresses by tossing sub-plots related to self-discovery throughout. With little time to waste, the authors push forward and force the reader to juggle both types of storyline simultaneously. Using Patterson’s trademark short chapters full of cliffhangers, the story never has a chance to slow and the resolution comes crashing through the gates in the closing pages, with that lingering wonder throughout who might be responsible. My rating has nothing to do with the quality of the book, but more that I want to be blown out of the water, as Patterson has been known to do on the rare occasion. A decent story, but I would not offer up a ‘stellar’ label at this point.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Bourelle, for your ongoing collaborative work. I can see wonderful things within these pages and hope you’ll find more time to write in the coming months and years.

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

Murder Beyond the Grave (Murder is Forever, Volume #3), by James Patterson, Aaron Bourelle, and Christopher Charles

Seven stars

During a recent binge of James Patterson’s BookShots, I came across his newest series of short stories, non-fiction with a criminal twist. Murder is Forever—now apparently a television program—shows off some real-life crimes that have been committed by dumb criminals and rolls them into bite-sized reads. In this third volume, Patterson teams up with Aaron Bourelle and Christopher Charles to bring two more tales where murder plays a central role in the final outcome of the criminal experience. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Murder Beyond the Grave (with Aaron Bourelle)

Danny Edwards is a low-level drug dealer who cannot do much of anything right. After being busted for large quantity possession, he turned on his supplier in a sting operation, but even then could not wait for the cocaine to appear before uttering the code word. Down on his luck and money, Danny has a plan; kidnap the local millionaire and keep him for ransom. In order to ensure that Stephen Small does not foil his own kidnaping, Edwards constructs a coffin of sorts to bury him, but provides an oxygen source to ensure that no one will find Small until the money’s been provided, but he is sure to stay alive. Using his unknowing girlfriend—Nancy Rish—to take him to and from the scene of the burial, Edwards places phone calls from pay phones that summer of 1987, hoping to get the Small family to pay up. Edwards thinks he is so smart, alternating pay phones, but does not realise that they can be traced. Soon Edwards and Rish are both apprehended and the police use some tactics to strong-arm Danny into admitting what he’s done and where to find Stephen Small. It is only then that things take a terrible turn for the worse.

Murder in Paradise (with Christopher Charles)

When Jim and Bonnie Hood came upon a potential fixer-upper property in the hills of California, they had differing views. Where Jim saw a cesspool of wasted money, Bonnie saw some potential and set about to make it a wonderful getaway. However, the more time and money she spent there, the more anonymous threats that she received. After a clash with some local loggers at the saloon, Bonnie thought she might have to take some drastic action and made some thinly veiled threats. When, after a tryst with one of her employees, their cabin was attacked by an intruder, Bonnie was left dead, leaving Jim to break the news to his children. After locating a suspect and going to trial, Bruce Beauchamp was found not guilty, forcing the Hoods to fear that he might seek retribution. What came next was truly the twist in the story, which shows that justice does not always follow the most obvious path.

These are two more stories that show the criminal element cannot always get away with a crime that seems almost foolproof at the start. Patterson has a knack for finding some interesting cases and presenting them in an intriguing short story format, which keeps the reader curious and wanted to forge onwards until the end. Using two well-seasoned collaborators, Patterson strengthens the storytelling and keeps the reader wanting more, which is sure to come in the next instalment of the Murder is Forever series. For now, those readers with the option can tune in to see Patterson’s television program on a weekly basis.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson, Bourelle, and Charles, as you recount these interesting tales. I like the style and the succinct nature used to present these stories and cannot wait to see what other cases make their way into the print version of this series.

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

Home Sweet Murder (True-Crime Thrillers, Volume #2), by James Patterson, Aaron Bourelle, and Scott Slaven

Eight stars

While James Patterson has made a name for himself with his BookShots collection—a series of short stories the reader can complete in a few hours—he is again expanding his horizons. Now that he has secured television rights to a murder-based true-crime show, Patterson has also spun some of the tales into shorter stories, much like his BookShots. While I have been on an intense BookShot binge, I thought that I would include at least the first two volume in my binge read, as they are short enough to be defined as BookShots, though they are best called ‘fictionalised pieces of true crime’. These stories will capture the reader’s attention, more so because they actually happened, with anonymity peppered into the narrative to protect the victims. Sit back and enjoy, as Patterson and his two collaborators in these stories show just how far some people will go to harm those closest to them.

Home Sweet Murder (with Andrew Bourelle)

Leo Fisher and his wife, Sue, are enjoying a quiet Sunday evening when someone rings the doorbell. Unsure who it might be, Leo makes his way to the door and discovers a man who claims to be an SEC agent, seeking urgent information about Leo’s law firm. Baffled, Leo tries to deflect the man’s inquiries, but is soon assaulted. The as-yet unknown man holds Leo and Sue hostage, seeking information about the firm and any improprieties that might be associated with their business. Leo remains baffled, but this only fuels the intruder, who soon learns that he will have to take significant action to remedy the perceived lack of information sharing. In minor flashbacks, the reader learns that Leo may know something he’s not yet shared, even with Sue, but could this be enough to justify the attack? Events take a significant turn for the worse, leaving Leo and Sue to wonder if they will make it through the night. Patterson and Bourelle create this wonderful story that is paced so effectively as to lure the reader into the middle of this dastardly crime.

Murder on the Run (with Scott Slaven )

When a housekeeper and young boy are found slain, the owner of the house, a respectable Omaha doctor, is beside himself. Who could have wanted to break into his home and commit these two murders, particularly of his eleven year-old son? Homicide Detective Derek Mois agrees to do everything in his power to find the killer, no matter what it takes. There is no apparent motive and limited leads. Fast forward five years and the killer seems to have struck again, targeting a doctor and his wife. Now, Mois is armed with some parallels and acts on them. Could the medical angle be something that draws these two cases together? Following his gut and evidence surrounding the two families, Mois finds himself heading to Indiana to pull the pieces together. What he discovers is an interesting story that fuels a deep-seeded need for revenge. Patterson and Slaven are wonderful at pulling together this high-octane thriller that will keep the reader guessing until the final pages.

Both of these stories fit perfectly into this second volume, providing as much suspense and action as the initial collection. Murder is a varied crime, but glaring errors by perpetrators can sometimes unite them, as well entertain those who are away from events and reading, as in this collection. The central characters from both stories provide wonderful backstories and development throughout their appearances on the printed page. The reader can connect with them, which aids in better understanding the cases and fallout from the criminal acts. While these are true events with a fictional flavour, the stories read extremely well and all characters serve a great purpose, accentuating the numerous perspectives of the crime. These brief pieces could easily be called BookShots, with their short chapters and the story arc taking only one hundred pages or so. I am happy to have devoured the first two volumes in this series (and will read more when they come out), though I will not hunt down the television program, as I like Patterson in small doses.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson, Bourelle, and Slaven. Your stories kept me hooked on this new series and have me wanting more. Perfectly crafted for a short spell of reading, much like many of the short stories collaborations Patterson has undertaken.

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