22 Seconds (Women’s Murder Club #22), by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Eight stars

James Patterson and Maxine Paetro are back for another explosive instalment of the Women’s Murder Club. Detective Lindsay Boxer packs a punch in this piece, alongside her friends, as they unravel numerous mysteries, including a major shipment of drugs and arms fro Mexico. Tossing caution into the wind, Boxer will have to uncover just who’s dirty and protect her family at the same time. Another great piece in the series, showing that the Patterson-Paetro collaboration works wonders.

Word on the street is that a major shipment of drugs and guns have made their way into San Francisco from Mexico, led by members of a dangerous cartel. Detective Lindsay Boxer leads the SFPD portion of a task force into cracking the mystery wide open, while also discovering who is the head of the snake. What she uncovers is baffling and quite worrisome. Not only are the illegal items finding their way onto California streets, but people are being murdered in an apparent attempt to silence any leaks.

It would seem that there are crooked cops all through the shipment’s route, turning head or greasing wheels to ensure these illegal items make their way onto the streets. As Boxer and her husband, a veteran of various US Agencies, work to discover the truth, they come to the realisation that they could be putting themselves and their family at risk.

As the dead bodies mount, there is a troubling sense that this is one fight that cannot end peacefully. All the while, others in the Club tackle their own issues, from the body of a young girl found in a ditch to the daunting task of writing the memoirs of a serial killers. Patterson and Paetro impress with another novel in a series that seems to be working well!

This series has been one of the more reliable collections with Patterson’s name affixed, leaving readers able to predict that something good will come of it. The premise is simple and the delivery quite accurate, especially when there are usually numerous plots taking place in a single novel. Patterson and Paetro offer up some decent writing and keep the characters progressing nicely, something that is surely difficult this far into the series. I’m always eager to see what is to come with Lindsay Boxer and her Women’s Murder Club. This novel solidified that for me.

Twenty-two books into the series. an make it difficult to find development or new backstory that has not been discussed. While the pile of novels is high, the central characters appear to find ways to make things exciting. There is always the progression within Lindsay’s family and the odd mention of certain personal details surrounding the other three, all of which permits the series fan to feel connected to all that is going on. I read, not only for the mystery, but also to see how things will progress with the characters, and am rarely left disappointed at any point. I do wonder what awaits me in novels to come, especially how some of the breadcrumbs left in the narrative will come to fruition.

While the writing and plots are rarely something that I would call stellar, the books are reliable when it comes to entertaining. There is always somehting going on and I can usually get some great action within the pages of the story. A well-plotted narrative keeps the story moving along, as well as some keen twists to keep things from being too predictable. I can usually count on something decent when it comes to character development, all strung together in short chapters, as per Patterson’s trademark. While there have been so many novels, things have yet to go stale, which is nice for a series reader such as myself. I have said it before and will repeat myself here; there needs to be a decent crossover with some of the other Patterson series, pulling together some great detective work with a cast that many fans of Patterson’s work can enjoy.

Kudos, Mr. Patterson and Madam Paetro, for another decent addition to the series. Where will you take these ladies from San Fran next, I can only wonder.

Steal (Instinct #3), by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

Seven stars

In this third instalment of the Instinct series, James Patterson and Howard Roughan work together to develop a great thriller with a unique twist. Psychological at times with some gritty crime aspects, the collaboration works well, as the previous two novels did for those who took the time to enjoy them. Patterson appears to mesh well with Roughan, which is a pleasant surprise, as books bearing the former’s name flood the marketplace on a weekly basis. A worthwhile reading experience.

It was a shock to everyone who glanced at social media to see that Carter van Oehson planned to kill himself. Even his Abnormal Psych professor, Dylan Reinhart, was taken aback. Now, a whole day later, Carter has still not turned up, but neither has his body.

While the hunt is on, there is no trace of Carter, at least until his boat turns up on the water, empty and with no signs of a struggle. People begin to wonder if Carter went ahead with his vow or could this just be a means of getting some attention? While people speculate, one person is sure that there is something nefarious going on.

Carter’s father, Mathias von Oehson, is sure there is more to the story, wondering if his fame and popularity might be the reason for an abduction. There is a family secret that could be used as leverage, allowing whoever is behind this to blackmail the van Oehsons and cause chaos. Without being able to turn to the police, Mathias needs answers and knows just who to ask.

Dylan Reinhart is ready to assist, but had no idea it would mean being in the middle of such a massive secret. He’ll need every fibre of his being to locate Carter, but must also rely on his connection to NYPD Detective, Elizabeth Needham. Together, Dylan and Elizabeth turn over rocks and investigate clues that could lead them to Carter, or send them to the darkest parts of the globe where additional trouble lurks. A chilling story that Patterson and Roughan develop effectively, keeping the reader hooked until the final page turn.

While I find James Patterson’s excessive publications too much to handle, particularly when I seek a decently penned book, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Working alongside Howard Roughan, Patterson has developed a decent series that has potential. While the book had some slow moments, the narrative carried things effectively through to the stronger segments of the story. I am keen to see if there is more collaboration by this pair, be it with this series or elsewhere.

Dylan Reinhart and Elizabeth Needham have grown throughout the series, both personally and professionally. While they try to keep work and personal lives separate, there are times when things blur together, leaving the reader to wonder what might happen. Both have strong development throughout the series, though I did not feel as connected to them in this novel. They are worthwhile characters with much to offer, leaving me to wonder what’s next for this duo.

James Patterson has so many collaborators with whom he works, it is hard to keep them straight, as well as which offer high caliber writing. Based on my reviews from the past books in this series, as well as though that have his name attached, Howard Roughan is one of the ‘decent ones’. The narrative of this book worked well, though there were a few slow moments that left me tapping my finger as I sped through the chapters, though the overall experience was worth my time. Short chapters, what I consider Patterson’s trademark, worked well to keep the momentum going and left me able to focus on the endgame without getting too caught up in the aforementioned slower segments. A decent plot kept me curious and some characters served to flavour the writing in ways that made it a little more enjoyable. As I said before, I am eager to see what else is to come with this series.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Roughan, for a decent read. Eager to see what you have coming out soon.

The Jailhouse Lawyer, by James Patterson and Nancy Grace

Eight stars

James Patterson and Nancy Grace collaborate again on a pair of legal thrillers that are sure to keep the reader on their toes throughout. The stories stir up a great deal of emotion and intrigue in equal measure as they explore the legal world from new perspectives. The first story has a small town lawyer accept the job of county public defender, only to realise that the sitting judge has an agenda of his own. Many citizens are under his thumb and no one has the wherewithal to stand up to the man in the gavel. No one except Martha Foster. The second story turns the attention to Leah Randall, who leaves her Chicago firm to return home to Arkansas. While her primary goal is to assist her sick father, Leah is soon pulled into the middle of a criminal case with a suspect who has everything to lose. Exploring many facets of the law, Leah will have to work hard to ensure a young woman is not railroaded in a state where the jury is public opinion! A wonderful set of stories by Patterson and Grace that solidifies the power of their collaborative efforts.

The Jailhouse Lawyer

After leaving her job and looking for something more fulfilling, Martha Foster brings her son to Erva, Alabama. They are ready to take on the world and set up some roots, especially after Martha is offered the position of Public Defender for the county. While Martha tries to get her bearings, she learns that Judge Pickens is not only revered, but also might be feared around town. Still, Martha has a job to do and is prepared to accomplish it.

As she begins her work, Martha soon realises that Judge Pickens has a reputation for legal firmness around the county, holding many to a higher standard. This standard includes locking them away for small offences and using a ‘chair’ to ensure people follow the law, his law. While Martha can respect the bench, she cannot stomach anything that Judge Pickens has been doing. Now, she’s forced to stand her ground, which may mean upsetting the scales of justice and landing her in some hot water.

With little holding her back, Martha takes on Judge Pickens, hoping that she will be the one person who can stare him down. Pickens is ready for this and tosses everything he an in her direction, hoping to break her. That being said, Martha Foster is not one to bend to the will of others without a fight. Will this fight be more than Martha and her sick son, Andy, can withstand?

Power of Attorney

While Leah Randall has had a great deal of success defending insurance companies, she cannot stomach the slimy nature of the work and quits. This is fuelled not only by her conscience, but an odd message from her mother that she is needed back home in Arkansas. Leah learns that her father, a prominent attorney in the small town of Bassville, is sick and headed downhill fast.

When Leah returns to her hometown, it is as if nothing has changed. She is welcomed home with open arms, but eyebrows raised, as she gets reacquainted with everyone she left behind. While her focus is to help her father, Leah is soon pulled in to assist on a tricky criminal case. Amber Lynn Travis, a missing young woman, has recently resurfaced. First thought to be the only survivor in a house fire that was likely arson, Amber is soon at the centre of the investigation, the likely murderer of her cousin and his wife. While Leah is shocked to hear this, she is even more baffled at the simple nature that Amber portrays, which is substantiated by the fact that she has only a second-grade education.

With the court ruling that Amber must stand trial for the murders, Leah prepares a defence as best she can, stymied by the limited resources at her disposal. Amber wants the proceeds of her cousin’s will, which she vocalists repeatedly, though it is a contract that Leah discovers which proves more disturbing, especially since the elder Randall oversaw its creation.

While Leah can rely on no one else and Amber looks even guiltier the more evidence is presented, she will stop at nothing to ensure her client has the best possible defence. What Leah cannot know is just how much Amber knew or realised throughout her servitude at the hands of a cruel cousin for a number of years. As always, justice might be blind, but the courtroom has a way of twisting the truth.

Nancy Grace brings a strong legal background to these stories, which are vastly different, yet both well balanced. She complements the Patterson style of delivery and helps develop a great legal thriller (two, actually), for the reader to enjoy. Pulling on lesser discussed tactics, Patterson and Grace deliver something the reader can easily enjoy and use to whet their appetite for more legal thrillers. With a strong narrative in both pieces, Patterson and Grace capture the legal themes well and keep the reader hooked until they discover the crux of the story’s argument.

These two stories explore completely different legal elements, but use a strong female protagonist to do so. Both Martha and Leah have completely different backstories, though it is the development that each presents throughout the process that is sure to impress the reader. While these are likely one-off stories, Patterson and Grace have done enough to create some strong roots and have me wanting to know more about both women, whose gritty determination will not allow the pressures of the courtroom leave them weak in the knees. Wonderful characters in both pieces had me cringing and cheering at various points.

While James Patterson is not known for his legal thrillers, he has teamed up with some great individuals over his career to pen some formidable pieces. Working with Nancy Grace a second time here has proven to be a masterful choice on his part, as both these stories read as some of the better thrillers I have read in a long while. Paced well, with a narrative that pushes forward easily, the stories offer much for the curious reader. Using the underdog technique, both stories tap into the darker side of the law and how the ‘little guy/girl’ can sometimes be left to suffer because they are a single voice. Fans of courtroom thrillers will likely enjoy these, as there is a definitely uniqueness to them, which I usually find in some other authors, whose fame matches Patterson’s. Pleasantly surprised, I will surely keep my eyes peeled for more by this collaborative duo!

Kudos, Mr. Patterson and Madam Grace, for a great set of stories. Please do consider working together again, as you have a knack for great storytelling.

Fear No Evil (Alex Cross #29), by James Patterson

Six Stars

Just as readers sometimes find themselves in a rut, the same can be said of authors who try to churn out something worthwhile. Many who follow my reviews will know that I have a love/hate relationship with James Patterson and his novels that appear to sell based on his name, rather than on any level of quality. I came into this book knowing that the Alex Cross series was one that had not been sullied with subpar writing or delivery. However, after reading this book, I am beginning to wonder if Dr. Cross may have overstayed his literary welcome and ought to hang up the cuffs for good. I could not connect with the book, the characters I have come to love, or even the action. Others may disagree, and I welcome it, but I am left wondering if it’s time to stop and let others fight crime. One of the cornerstone series for James Patterson, this one may have finally lost its steam and needs to be shelved for good.

While I usually offer a detailed summary of the storyline for other reviewers to enjoy, I can’t be bothered today, preferring to offer a quick summary of my sentiments so that I can move along. Patterson resurrects an old nemesis of Dr. Alex Cross’ and places the detective in the middle of a serious manhunt. Cross is his usual go-getter self, swooping in to help as best he can, while also rescuing his wife from danger as she investigates something over in Europe. The tension and action that is usually built up with short Patterson-esque chapters is gone, leaving the reader feeling flat and underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, there is action and some heart-thumping suspense, but I did not feel the push to keep reading well into the night or caring much about what was going on. I need that on occasion and this novel did not deliver.

While some authors can use their name to sell a book, I cringe at that, as the reader is left wondering if the quality is there. With another Cross novel on the horizon, I can only hope this was a stumbling block for Patterson (or if I am just out of sorts with my reading these days), and that Cross can return to his earlier glory. That being said, thirty novels may be a sign that Cross should enjoy time with the family and let the likes of Bennett and Boxer, other stalwart Patterson detectives, take the reins and keep things going. But, what’s do I know, right?

Kudos, Mr. Patterson, for finding new ideas to challenge your protagonist. It just did not impact me as I had hoped.

The President’s Daughter, by James Patterson and Bill Clinton

Nine stars

Never sure what to expect when his name dons the cover of a book, I reached for this James Patterson thriller with some trepidation. After reading just a few pages, I was hooked and could not get enough of this collaborative effort with former US President Bill Clinton. The story was both intense and well-structured, with details that added to it throughout. Patterson and Clinton write well together and keep a political, emotional, and dastardly high throughout the plot, leaving the reader to wonder what’s to come. I could not put it down and can only hope that they will collaborate once more, in the coming years.

The presidency of the United States is a delicate balance of decision-making and appeasing the masses, as Matt Keating has come to discover. On one fateful night, while trying to extract some soldiers in a far-away land, President Keating made a fateful mistake and caused a gaffe that resonated around the world. The fallout of this led to his own vice- president challenging him for re-election and Keating was sent packing from the White House.

With a new Administration in control, the Keatings return to some semblance of order in New Hampshire, trying to recapture a life of solitude and normalcy. However, Matt Keating’s past can never entirely separate itself from him. While out hiking one day, Mel Keating, the former First Daughter, is come upon by a group of men. They take her into their custody an set off a series of panicked calls. Mel Keating has been kidnapped and the Secret Service meant to protect her has failed.

What begins as a small panic soon turns disastrous, as ransom demands are made by a powerful terrorist group, claiming retribution for an attack in Libya years before. Matt Keating is beside himself and does all he can, but the new POTUS stands firm with her decision not to negotiate with terrorists. After a video of Mel Keating’s execution is broadcast, things turn dark and the world takes notice.

As a former Navy SEAL, Matt Keating cannot sit idly by and wait for fate to take its course. He vows to do al that he can to find the man responsible for the kidnapping and murder of his daughter, seeking his own form of retribution. Working back channels and avenues no politician could be expected to know, Keating travels to the far reaches of Africa in search of a man who has also lost a great deal. Two fathers, a similar sentiment in them both… one fate. A stellar piece of writing from both Patterson and Clinton, which kept me flipping pages and gasping.

While I have had mixed results when it comes to novels by James Patterson, this was one book that did not disappoint in the least. The writing was top-notch and the story continued to develop throughout the reading experience. I could not get enough of things and kept pushing to learn more with each moment I had to enjoy. Patterson and Clinton make a formidable duo and their style is sure to impress many who enjoy the thriller genre. Mixing politics with personal passions, the story was truly impactful and sure to be talked about well into the future.

While Matt Keating is the obvious protagonist, the story pulled on the first hand accounts of many throughout the experience. The struggles of being a world superpower cannot be dismissed, but it is Matt Keating’s role as father that fuels much of his development in the novel. Having had to make some tough decisions, it is all on his shoulders to right a wrong, or at least save his family from the fallout of his choices. His grit and determination is like no other, as he faces down many who would again wish him to fail. The love of a father cannot be overlooked, on both sides of the coin.

Experiences drawn from the Clinton White House surely flavoured parts of this book, but they can only go so far to create a stunning thriller. The writing must take the reader that extra step and create a story that is worthy. Patterson and Clinton do that here quite effectively, pushing the limits with political backstory and emotional development. The narrative worked well to drive things forward, gaining momentum with each passing chapter. The plot did not remain stagnant or follow a linear path, but rather twisted at the right moments and kept the reader on the edge of their seats. Strong characters on both sides emerged, as well as a third party with their own ideas on how to capitalize on the situation, making for added intrigue when the time was right. I could not get enough of this piece, which still included the Patterson-esque short chapters to tease the reader throughout. I can only hope there is more to come by these two men in the foreseeable future.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Clinton, for a winner. Just what I needed to pick me up at this time of year!

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

https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Coldest Case (Black Book #0.5): An Audible Production, by James Patterson, Aaron Tracy, and Ryan Silbert

Eight stars

Having recently discovered James Patterson’s experimentation in ‘direct to audio’ work, I was pleased to get my hands on this piece. It brings to life a new series that has a great deal of potential, working with collaborators Aaron Tracy and Ryan Silbert. The story is layered with a great plot and some sensational character interactions, which is intensified by the audio. While the Chicago PD is not known for its simple cases, this one is particularly tough. Thank goodness Detectives Billy and Patti Harney are working it as best they can. When Billy’s partner gets too deep while undercover, she needs to be extracted, but that only leads to added issues. Billy soon realises that there is a powerful list of names in a secret book, ones that could lead to the death of countless others if it falls into the wrong hands. Patterson wins with this one, in a story that comes to life through audio.

A sinister drug ring has been working in Chicago for years, something that Chicago PD Detective Billy Harney has been investigating. Working alongside his sister, Patti, they are trying to eke out some information about something big. When Billy’s partner, Kate, embeds herself into the group, there is hope that something will come of it. After a gaffe sees many turn up dead, Kate is almost revealed as a cop and she must be taken into protective custody, but not before an essential informant goes missing. Amongst all the chaos, a special black book containing key information has gone missing and the drug ring is hell-bent on finding it, no matter the cost. Key clients could be outed otherwise!

As Billy and Patti investigate the contents of the black book, they realise that it is more than meets the eye, with crooked athletes and corrupt politicians front and centre on the list. On the side, Billy and Patti discover the intense world of on-line gaming and how ruthless it can be. This helps them crack open a little part of the case, but also pushes them deeper into confusion as well. When the black book reveals a chilling secret that could lead to many deaths, it’s a race to get to the scene on time to prevent disaster. The fate of many rests in the hands of the Harneys. Patterson excites with ease as he creates a story many can enjoy in only a few hours!

While James Patterson has moments of greatness and others of frigidity, this was surely one of the greater publication, released solely through audio. The story was crisp and the plot flowed well, keeping the reader engaged throughout and eager to see how things would progress. Said to be the prequel of the Black Book series, this story works really well and offers listeners something exciting in a short period of time. Patterson and his collaborators develop a wonderful script and use a star-studded cast to bring it all to life.

The characters were all cast well and the multitude of voices surely brought things to a new level. I was able to follow things with ease, even if I had to listen very carefully to ensure I did not miss anything. The plot was on point and left me begging for me, as I learned a little more about the Harneys and how well they function together. While I do love a good book, this was an excellent alternative and gave me something special to enjoy amidst all the craziness I find surrounds me these days. A step above a simple audiobook, Patterson and his collaborators have left me wanting more!

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson, Tracy, and Silbert, for a great story and wonderful experience. I look forward to future collaborations, as they become possible.

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

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: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

2 Sisters Detective Agency, by James Patterson and Candice Fox

Seven stars

Working together yet again, James Patterson and Candice Fox present a standalone thriller with all the ingredients for success. Two unsuspecting women are thrust together and find themselves in the middle of something truly terrifying, only to learn that there are even more layers yet to be seen. Rhonda Bird is not naive in the least, but is truly shocked to learn of the fallout of her father’s death. She travels to Los Angeles and learns that she has a sister, one who is not used to following rules. When they get tangled up in tracking down a crew of privileged teens, the end result is nothing less than horrific, particularly when one of the group’s victims seeks revenge for what’s happened. Patterson and Fox show that they have some magic within them, using this piece to prove it once again.

Rhonda Bird is a juvenile public defender, working the system as best she can with clients who feel they are untouchable. When she receives news that her estranged father has died, she agrees to go to Los Angeles to handle some of the paperwork. It is only then that she realises something truly baffling, she has a half-sister. Baby Bird is an entitled teenager who does not like to follow the rules, making it even more difficult for Rhonda to take control of the situation. If that were not enough, they girls’ father was no longer the boring accountant he presented himself to be, but a private detective with an active business.

While Rhonda tries to digest all that is put before her, Baby wants nothing more than to keep living the life she’s been streaming online. This includes interactions with other privileged teens. When one acquaintance comes for help, he soon discovers that he does not want to involve Rhonda in what’s going on, leaving Baby somewhat concerned.

As she’s used to prying information out of teenagers, Rhonda soon discovers that the boy is part of a gang of youths who target those in need of a message, roughing people up and causing havoc wherever possible,. Their leader, a psychopath if ever there was one, relishes the power they have been able to exert and cares little for the fallout. As Rhonda and Baby resurrect their father’s agency to work the case, they find themselves enmeshed in trying to bring this group of youths down, knowing little of those that have been victimized.

What begins as a hunt for a group of entitled brats soon takes a darker turn, as one of the victims, with a sordid past of his own, decides to take matters into his own hands. With a killer lurking in the shadows, Rhonda and Baby will have to watch their every move, sure that no one is safe or can be trusted. Rhonda may have wished she never answered the call that brought her to L.A., but now that she’s here, it’s all hands on deck to protect a sister she never knew she had. A decent crime thriller that had its moments of intrigue.

I have come to enjoy both the collaborative and individual work of James Patterson, as well as Candice Fox. They have been able to create some fascinating characters, plots, and novels that usually leave me flipping pages for hours at a time. While I applaud the ideas, this book did not grab me as much as their previous work, though there were moments of intrigue and captivating writing. The jury is still out on this one and I am left to wonder if this is a new collaborative series in the making.

Rhonda Bird proves to be a gritty protagonist in this piece, offering up her no-nonsense side with capable mind throughout. I was intrigued to see the balance of her professional and personal life, as it came to light throughout this story and could only wonder if Patterson and Fox had more in mind for her in upcoming novels. Strong-willed and ready to make a difference when it counts, Rhonda must also juggle being a quasi-parent to her new half-sister, more trouble than it is sometimes worth.

I spent a great deal of time thinking about this book, trying not to compare it to others I have read of late, or even the past collaborative submissions of the authors. I am almost certain that it is tough on writers who have had success to always achieve the same standards in their novels, as readers come to expect stellar work. Patterson and Fox are great writers on their own, and together, but this one did not resonate for me as much as I would have liked. I needed something grittier, darker, with more seriousness and complexity. Instead, I got some teenage vapidness mixed with amateur sleuthing on a case that did not fully captive me. This is nothing against the authors or their hard work, as the narrative flowed pretty well and the chapters moved things along. I simply felt that there was a disconnect with the plot and what I needed at the moment. Perhaps the next one will be a return to their old ways!

Kudos, Mr. Patterson and Madam Fox, on a valiant effort. I know what you can do, so there is no point bemoaning or panning this one blip.

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

Private Rogue (Private #16), by James Patterson and Adam Hamdy

Eight stars

Another collaborative effort by James Patterson and Adam Hamdy proves to be quite entertaining for the reader, as the Private series continues. Jack Morgan has built a strong detective agency the world over, though he is still happiest at home in Los Angeles. When a wealthy man comes to his offices and asks for his help, personally, Morgan cannot refuse, travelling to New York to begin the search for a woman and her children. What follows will take him to the far corners of the earth and test his resolve. A fast-paced story that keeps the reader intrigued throughout.

It was just another day for Jack Morgan and his team in Los Angeles, when a man of some means entered Private headquarters. He told a story of his missing daughter and grandchildren, who were somewhere in upstate New York, begging for help. While Private did not usually assist in simple missing person cases, there was something about this one that left Morgan feeling as though he ought to help.

Choosing to personally take on the case, Morgan flew to New York and began the hunt, alongside one of his Private New York colleagues. Searching and trying to be inconspicuous, Morgan was able to locate the family, only to discover that those searching for them have another motive. It would appear that the father figure of the group was on a covert mission in Afghanistan and may have something this group wants for their own.

Never one to bow to the pressure, Morgan made his way across the world to the deserts of Afghanistan’s to find a military pilot who may have all the answers, while also trying to stay one step ahead of a ruthless gang. It was a battle of survival, with a mission to reunite a family safely. A great addition to the Private series.

While James Patterson has often spread himself too thin in his writing, this was an exception to the rule. Working alongside Adam Hamdy, Patterson is able to elevate his series and keep the Private name on the level of some of the other strong series bearing his name. Great action, decent characters, and an entertaining plot, Patterson and Hamdy have great collaborative effort.

Jack Morgan takes centre stage in this piece, something that he does not usually do in the novels. His backstory is known to series fans, though there are some added elements here that can help intrigue the series reader. Decent development, both in a personal and professional sphere, keeps the reader in tune with how he works as a character and provides some needed depth to keep the series going.

Patterson and Hamdy work well to keep the story moving along and have decent narrative development throughout. The plot works well in this piece, allowing the reader to push forward with ease. Perhaps a few overused themes (Afghanistan, Russian operatives), but they worked well and did not get too clunky for my liking. This series flows well, though the interconnectedness of the novels is more the Private thread, than an ongoing storyline throughout. With Jack Morgan in the central role, there is more cohesiveness to the overall series, though reading any of the books as a standalone would not ruin things. I look forward to more of these stories soon.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Hamdy, on a great effort. Your collaborative work is quite strong and I hope to see more of it.

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

The Last Days of John Lennon, by James Patterson, Casey Sherman, and Dave Wedge

Nine stars

While I have struggled with James Patterson’s writing for a number of years, there are times that he comes up with a gem, this book being one example of that. While it strays from his usual fare, Patterson has collaborated with Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge to pen a non-fiction piece about John Lennon and the Beatles. The authors pull together a succinct, yet comprehensive, history of the group, with a primary focus on Lennon, documenting his rise to fame and tragic murder in December 1980. Easy to digest and packed full of exciting details, this is a great book for those who love all things Beatles or those, such as myself, who know little but have always been curious.

The book takes readers as far back as the early days when found Liverpudlian youths were jamming around and trying to make music. It was the 1950s and society had yet to catch-up to the new craze of rock n’ roll, with many clubs and the older generation passing it off as scandalous and even devilish. The authors explore how these four boys came together to make music and solidified the new sound to appeal to the younger generation.

As the book progresses, the rise of Beatlemania takes over and many of their key moments are explored, both within the music scene and through their personal lives. The authors present a wonderful summary, getting into just enough detail to leave the reader wanting more. It is understandable how these four young men swept the world with their own style of music and how it captivated their fans in a variety of ways.

There is no shortage of post-Beatle exploration, particularly how the overpowering Yoko Ono arrived on the scene and all but led to the end of the group. However, it is not that simple, as the authors argue within the pages of this piece. The attentive reader will see the breadcrumbs and follow everything that happened to bring this about, culminating in four solo careers.

An eerie moment throughout the book are the short chapters focussed on December 1980, where Mark Chapman is plotting what he will do to John Lennon. While not entirely clear most of the time, Chapman has his reasons and impetus to target Lennon, as well as a piece of literature to fuel his fantasies. This is a great mix within the larger narrative and provides the reader a wonderful balance between what is going on and how it will all come to an end. I enjoyed the mix and its foreboding made the book even better.

While I am no music aficionado, I have often wondered about the history of the Beatles. Trying to comb through documents to see how they came to be, rose to power, and came crashing down all appealed to me, as well as some of the underlying commentary related to Mark Chapman. The narrative flow was perfect, offering just enough information to pique my interest, though not drowning the reader with dates, details, and name dropping as well. Short chapters offer that Patterson tease that fans of his work are used to seeing, pushing the larger story along. Well-rounded and full of interesting moments about which I had no idea helped keep me connected to the piece and wanting to learn more, at my own pace. I’m happy that I took the time to explore this book and everything I took away from the experience.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson, Sherman, and Wedge. Your investigative work with this piece really caught my attention. This is a great collaborative team for non-fiction, investigative writing.

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