The Guilty: An Audible Production, by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski

Eight stars

James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski venture into a newer medium for this piece, the ‘direct to audio’ production, where a handful of talented actors portray the story for the listener to enjoy. A play that no one knows anything about, a genius actor/director with a plan, and an audience that is lapping it all up. Welcome to ‘The Guilty’ and all that it entails. A unique approach to a murder mystery, but one I quite enjoyed, if only because it was a quick experience and permitted something different.

Osmond Box is a living legend, the King of Broadway some may call him, even if he is reclusive and few have seen him. His productions are always over the top and audiences have no idea what they are going to receive. The house is full and people await the stage lights for everything to begin.

As the evening progresses, things become more and more mysterious. What begins as an apparent reality show on stage soon turns dark, as Box accuses his fellow actors of heinous crimes. Is it all part of the script or improvisational? And when a stage gun turns out to shoot someone, who is the murderer?

With cell phones confiscated and the doors locked, no one can leave as things progress. Audience members gawk in awe and await some sort of resolution. When all is said and done, the police arrive to question many of those who witnessed the event. Was it murder? Has Osmond Box done it again and pulled off the greatest theatrical production of all time? A great piece that Patterson and Swierczynski concocted as they leave the listener guessing.

This was definitely an interesting spin for the master of storytelling, using one of his best collaborators to develop the piece for listeners. Told solely through audio, the story develops and keeps the listener enthralled as they try to piece it all together. Some may balk at having to listen, rather than flip through the pages, but it was certainly the experience that will keep people talking for months.

Told through nine episodes, the story progressed well and held my attention throughout. What is going on with the actors and how will things progress with each passing moment? There was just enough character development throughout to keep me satisfied and the plot advanced in odd ways, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. While dramatic reproductions are not always my thing, I did enjoy the different perspectives and voices telling this story, as it breathed some life into the piece and left me wanting more.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Swierczynski, for this interesting experiment. I felt it was a success and am eager to try some more of them soon.

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

The Shut-In, by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski

Eight stars

Just when I thought Patterson would run out of BookShot ideas, he returns for another collaboration with Duane Swierczynski to reveal this timely piece that meshes technology with something from the thriller genre. Tricia Celano is forced to live inside during daylight hours, as she suffers from a rare condition exacerbated by sunlight. Her night phobia has forced her to develop a isolating lifestyle, with her computer the only means of communicating with the outside world. Tricia’s one extravagance is her unmanned drone, which she enjoys flying over the skies of Philadelphia. She uses the camera function to peer down on locals as they go about their business. During one routine drone flight, Tricia witnesses a woman kill an unsuspecting man with an arrow, though no one seems to believe her. Already labelled ‘different’, Tricia faces an uphill battle as she tries to convince the authorities. After a second reconnaissance mission, Tricia runs snack dab into the killer, but the drone is damaged and Tricia’s anonymity is blown. The reader learns that the killer has a major plan and Tricia’s discovery may ruin everything. Tricia has little time and few people in whom she can trust to ensure the body count stops increasing. Being a shut-in, she is not sure where to turn, or who might take up her cause. Patterson and Swierczynski present a wonderful story here and keep the reader enthralled until the very last page. BookShot fans will revel in this, particularly those who like quirky thrillers will no time to slow things down.

My head is spinning with all the BookShot reading that I have been doing, but I have come to enjoy this process. I am learning so much about the writing styles of many authors, as well as the far-reaches of where short stories can take the reader. Tricia Celano is an interesting character and her unique characteristics offer the reader something interesting to explore. Isolated from the outside world, Tricia uses her internet connection and this drone to keep tabs on the ‘real world’, but once she learns of a dastardly plot, she cannot sit idly by. Some of the other characters who cross the pages of this story prove interesting, if only because they are either skeptical or trying to negate her progress. The premise of this piece is great, like the crime with no apparent witnesses caught on screen by an innocent bystander. From there, it’s time to erase any evidence, as well as the witness who could spoil everything. Told in such a way that the reader will never have a chance to rest, Patterson and Swierczynski provide all the elements for a successful story. Proof that you never know what a BookShot has to offer until you get to the core of the story.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Swierczynski, for this entertaining piece. I loved everything about this story and hope you’ll collaborate again soon.

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

Stingrays, by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski

Seven stars

James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski team up for this interesting BookShot that explores a crime during a party weekend in the Caribbean. When the Stingrays are hired to explore the murder of Paige Ryerson, they must use all their grit and determination to bring the killer to justice. Killed in the Turks and Caicos, Ryerson was partying with some friends and simply disappeared. When Matthew Quinn and his Stingrays arrive, many of the players involved in the party scene that Ryerson frequented have reason to want her dead. The various Stingrays sift through the evidence and point fingers, though some of these leads turn cold as soon as they’re explored. From a corrupt cop to a playboy with a yacht, and even the captain of the sea-faring vessel, many people recount their various tales of seeing Paige Ryerson, but all promise that she was alive and well. It’s a race to get the answers, and someone’s holding out. With time ticking away, Quinn and his team must make a move and trap the killer, before they get away with the ultimate crime. Patterson and Swierczynski create this interesting piece that is sure to keep the reader intrigued as they speed through the story. Not my favourite BookShot, but this one had potential.

As with any short stories, BookShots can be hit and miss, interesting some readers while others raise their eyebrows and move on. I was not disheartened by this piece, but did not feel the connection to it that many others may feel, which only goes to show that my unique interests differ from those of other BookShot lovers. The characters were not all that intriguing to me, though they surely did offer some interesting insight into a cross-section of the population. Presenting a handful of potential murderers, the authors let the reader see some of the interesting parts about their lives. Same goes for the Stingrays, all of whom bring something to the table that might interest the reader, given the proper inclination. The story was nothing special for me, which I feel might relate to the fact that I could not connect to the Stingrays. Had I felt more of a connection to the sleuths, I might have found something in their tracking down a killer and become more invested in the story. It was not horrible, though I am not sure I’d race out to read another BookShot of the same premise. Patterson and Swierczynski provide the reader with some interesting aspects in this story, though I did not find myself enamoured. Perhaps it has to do with my not feeling my greatest, but I could not connect with this piece on any level.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Swierczynski, for a decent piece of writing. While I am not hooked, that is not to say that others will not enjoy what you had to offer.

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

The House Husband: A BookShot, by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski

Eight stars

With a new author pairing, Patterson brings Duane Swierczynski into the BookShot mix to show off his abilities, and what a debut venture this has become. There is a killer about, targeting families whose strains outweigh the connection they have together. What makes it all the more mysterious is that said killer by night is a house husband, most bland, during the day. When Teaghan Beaumont returns to the Homicide Squad after having her first child, everything seems out of whack; her partner is acting off and her fellow detectives handle her with kid gloves. However, when Beaumont and her partner respond to the scene of a potential familicide, she cannot help feel chilled to the bone. While trying to juggle her job and a six-week old baby, Beaumont’s mind is always racing, yet tired as ever. Doing a little work on her own, Beaumont soon realises that there have been other such crimes while she’s been away, all chalked up to strain within a family unit. But, when another such event occurs, Beaumont is sure there is a killer on the loose, setting the scene and trying to deter the authorities. What she discovers next will not only blow the case wide open, but no one will see it coming, even the reader. A wonderful story to appeal to those BookShot fans who seek a gem and have toughed it out with less than stellar pieces in the past.

As I have mentioned many times before, BookShots are truly a gamble to the avid reader. Short enough that anything disappointing has not wasted too long of the reader’s time, but fast-paced at times that the reader can devour a few in one afternoon. Patterson’s introduction of Swierczynski into the family proves to be a wonderful addition and has offered new hope for fans of this short story grouping. With little time to waste, Patterson and Swierczynski develop strong characters and a story that is second to none. Short chapters force the reader to grab on and get hooked or drop everything as the plot moves at an alarming pace. A few key twists within the story act as major pivot points and the reader is left to wonder what’s just happened, hopefully in a good way. I do hope to see Swierczynski again soon in either BookShot or full novel format, as he surely has a mind for this sort of piece.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Swierczynski on a wonderful piece. I can only hope there are more BookShots to come from this entertaining duo.