NYPD Red 6, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

Seven stars

James Patterson and Marshall Karp are back to look at how the elite of New York live and have their crimes investigated. In NYPD Red 6, the story looks at how a bride’s kidnapping at the reception turns into a hunt for a deranged man with an agenda all his own. The detectives on this elite squad do all they can and cut corners wherever possible to bring justice to those whose notoriety can be seen across the daily headlines. A story that gains momentum throughout, fans of Patterson can rest assured that this is not another of his flops, likely due to Karp’s collaboration. An intriguing piece in a supersaturated genre.

There’s nothing like a socialite wedding in New York to bring out the cameras. Erin Easton is well-known in the celebrity world and her marriage to a man with deep financial pockets has many wondering about her motives. However, when she is kidnapped while changing at the reception, all Erin leaves behind is a bloodied wedding dress on the floor.

NYPD Detective Kylie MacDonald is pulled into work mode immediately, having been invited to attend. When she brings her partner, Detective Zach Jordan, in to join her, they begin an intense hunt for Erin and whoever might be behind her abduction. With few leads to follow, it’s a waiting game, at least until videos begin emerging, with demands that they be broadcast live.

Meanwhile, Erin and her abductor are hidden away, safe from the prying eyes of any authorities. Things appear to be wrapped in some form of fantasy, where Erin would run away with her abductor and raise children together. This outlandish narrative may be the one things that helps Erin stay alive, as long as she can bide her time and not refuse any of his demands. Still, it will take an act of great courage for Erin to toss off her restraints and return to the man she claims to truly love.

As Detectives MacDonald and Jordan fight to make headway in the case, they are distracted by a second matter, involving EMTs entering the apartments of well-off New Yorkers, only to ransack them and leave bodies in their wake. As bad as this is, nothing can distract from the case at hand, which is broken wide open by a frantic call fro mother victim herself.

Rushing to locate her and make sense of what’s next, NYPD Red will have to act swiftly to instil calm in a city whose lifeblood is gossip and flashy headlines. All the while, the bodies are piling up and the truth remains elusive. That’s never stopped MacDonald and Jordan before. With a twist awaiting them, these NYPD detectives will have to stay vigilant.

It’s always nice to find a book that not only fills time between two larger reads, but is entertaining in its delivery. I have long bemoaned the ‘James Patterson Syndrome’, where books sell not for their content, but because of the name that fills the cover. Collaborators are left with their share of profits, but the quality goes down the tube. This book should not suffer this fate and Marshall Karp can rest assured that he has a winner on his hands. One of the decent series that James Patterson continues to help write, NYPD Red remains on point and a decent read for those whose interest has not yet waned with Patterson.

Detectives Kylie MacDonald and Zach Jordan remain the central characters in this book, delving a little more into their development, with a peppering of backstory. Their gritty determination is on point and they strive to solve the cases put before them, without letting their own lives muddy the waters. There is a sliver of personal story sandwiched into this piece, enough to show that they are real people and not solely dedicated to the job. Working effectively, both MacDonald and Jordan are able to find justice wherever it may be hiding and protect those they are tasked with serving.

There are a number of strong secondary characters throughout the piece, including the central victim, Erin Easton. Each plays their role well to keep the story on point and moving forward. The reader is able to see, albeit superficially, how the rich live and what their lifestyles mean to them. There is also an interesting perspective from the abductor’s point of view, as his flights of fancy and long-standing obsession spill into a form of reality that is only truly understood in the latter part of the novel.

It is usually quite difficult to gauge a Patterson novel’s impact until the very end. The stories are good, but the delivery is sometimes a little hokey or lighter when it comes to narrative style. This book did hold my attention throughout, though I did not receive the impactful piece I had hoped to find, after a significant hiatus from the series. That being said, things flowed well and the narrative pushed things along fairly effectively. Patterson’s short chapter signature is on display here, pushing the reader to move forward just to see what awaits them. Marshall Karp surely helped shape this into a decent read, as he has done in the past with this series. Where things are headed next, I have no idea, but I am still interested to see what MacDonald and Jordan have to discover.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Karp, for a decent police procedural. While I used this as a bridge between two larger reads, I am pleased to have taken the time.

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

Deadly Cross (Alex Cross #28), by James Patterson

Seven stars

Alex Cross is back for yet another adventure along the streets of D.C., which means James Patterson has been at it again. When the former wife of a high-ranking politician turns up dead, Cross is on the case. He’s also working with his partner to discover who’s been kidnapping and murdering a number of young women. This is sure to be one summer that will keep Cross busy. A decent addition for series fans, but there’s something lacking in this latest novel.

Alex Cross loves nothing more than spending time with his family, but when work calls, he knows where he’s needed. The former wife of the current vice-president has been found murdered and Cross is willing to step up to help. It would seem that their past acquaintance is not going to help as much as Cross had hoped, as tabloid journalists try to use it to smear her and leave Cross in an awkward position.

While working that case and taking direction from the Chief of Detectives—Cross’ own wife, Bree Stone—Cross and his partner, John Sampson, begin working on a series of kidnappings of young women. What’s worse, some of the women have turned up murdered, leaving little doubt that there’s a serial killer on the loose. Cross and Sampson begin a thorough analysis of the case, but a personal tragedy strikes, sidelining the affable Sampson.

As Cross splits his time between cases, he’s not getting the traction he had hoped, which is causing a significant amount of pressure up the chain of command. Bree is feeling the heat from her own superiors and loses it at one point, wondering if police work is really for her. It’s no easy decision, but, like Cross, family comes before the badge.

After Cross finds himself in rural Alabama working some leads, he learns something that could solve the case that has those on Capitol Hill buzzing. It could be a red herring, but there’s no time to leave anything to chance. What Cross learns blows the case wide open, forcing everyone to question what they know and who they can trust.

Back in D.C., it’s anyone’s guess who could be killing young women, but Sampson bounces back, using work as a salve, and discovers a few breadcrumbs of his own. With so much set to chance in the Cross sphere, solving these cases might help with what’s on the horizon.

I have long enjoyed the work of James Patterson on this series, one of the few that he has kept for himself. While Cross does not seem to lose his finesse, there’s something about this book that left me less than fully enthralled. I have mentioned it before and will do so again, might it be time for Dr. Alex Cross to hang up the cuffs and let others handle things?

Alex Cross returns to reprise his role as protagonist, though there is little backstory or actual development to be had. Cross lives for the moment, watching his family continue to grow and the cases pile up. He’s still likeable, works hard, and loves his family. I guess I expected something new to rejuvenate him as a character all his own. I did not dislike him whatsoever, but there’s something lacking that left me almost indifferent throughout the novel.

With a core of close knit supporting characters, Patterson does well to keep the large story arc going. There are the requisite new faces who appear to keep the cases flowing well and leave the reader with others to explore. A little backstory appears here and there, but the reader gets much of their narrative development with the police work that is being done throughout the book.

I always find it hard to stay loyal to a series when things seem to taper off. Not that this collection has fallen into horrible disarray, but it lacks what it once had, hardcore crime work and cliffhangers that leaver the reader wondering. Patterson is able to keep his protagonist moving and guessing, though there is a lack of spark that I remember from earlier novels. Surely, Cross is aging and his family is getting more independent, but if that means it’s time to fade into the sunset, let’s take that route and move along. Other series that have lasted this long have their protagonist moving into retirement. I wonder if this is an option that Patterson’s considered. Not that he’s not busy enough overseeing others writing books with his name on it.

The writing itself is still fairly strong and the story he’d my attention throughout. I was eager to see how Cross would handle things and was happy to see the narrative’s momentum did not lag. Short chapters kept me pushing ahead, wondering what was to come next, though I was not as riveted as I would have liked. Those who have dedicated themselves to the series may also see the writing on the wall. I’ll keep reading, but I can only hope that Patterson ties things off with dignity for this long-serving detective, and we don’t have him perishing in an alley, blood pooling around him.

Kudos, Mr. Patterson, for keeping Alex Cross going. Perhaps it’s time for a mega crossover (with Women’s Murder Club and Michael Bennett) before calling it a career for the Metro detective.

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

Private Moscow (Private #15), by James Patterson and Adam Hamdy

Eight stars

Turning to one of James Patterson’s central series, I encountered a new collaborator for the experience. Adam Hamdy brings some of his own perspective in a series that takes the reader all over the world. Jack Morgan, head of Private, has been invited to New York to discuss an issue with a friend. When Karl Parker is gunned down as soon as the bell goes at the New York Stock Exchange, Morgan goes into work mode and tries to capture the killer, but the wily individual gets away. Morgan works with his New York counterpart to begin investigating, learning that there is a target list, one which includes a newspaper mogul next. Morgan tries to stay one step ahead, but a second body emerges and a local protest group claims responsibility. When Morgan pieces together an international angle to the crimes, he decides to fly to Moscow, where the answers may await him. At Private Moscow, Dinara Orlova has been trying to keep things afloat, though business is quite slow. The surprise arrival of Jack Morgan has her rushing to make sure things are at least in some semblance of order. As she takes Morgan around Moscow, Orlova is targeted by some Russian operatives of her own, adding a little danger to an interesting life. When Morgan and Orlova discover that the crimes are not as they seem, tied to something called Bright Star, they realise that their safety is no longer guaranteed. Morgan is accused of being a Russian spy, sought by the State Department, but must get back stateside to warn others of what is going on. His only hope lies across the Atlantic, but it will take more than some Private maneuvering and help from Orlova to upend this plot. A well-paced addition to the series that showcases another locale and adds a decent case for readers. Recommended to those who have enjoyed the Private series to date, as well as the reader who needs a little espionage in their lighter fare.

I have a love/hate relationship with James Patterson’s writing, though the last few have been quite well done, impressing me with three different collaborators. Adam Hamdy brings some interesting flavouring to the story and helps push the piece into something that I feel will impress those who have followed the long and convoluted route that is Private. Dinara Orlova receives some of the spotlight here, as a dedicated worker in the Private company. Her backstory is presented, though it is her character development that proves to be the most alluring part of her. Gritty, but still pliable, Dinara loves her country, while also seeing that there are some significant issues. She works well with Jack Morgan, but can lead when the time comes. She is strong-willed and does not keep her thoughts to herself, which appears to be a Russian trait. The handful of secondary characters keep the story moving and somewhat interesting. While many authors have used Russia as the new backdrop for novels, Patterson and Hamdy are able to provide enough uniqueness through their characters to keep the reader sated. The story was well constructed and held my attention. While there is always an international flavour to the novels, the authors did not go overboard, inundating the reader with an overload of place names and general references. If I could have asked for something, perhaps some actual Russian phrasing to add another layer of ‘authenticity’ to the story. I find that some authors are able to paint a better picture of the goings-on with phrases, which are then translated for the reader’s sake. Overall, a good read and I am happy to have found a positive Patterson novel worth the sales it will garner.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Hamdy, for a great addition to the series. I hope to see your collaborate work again soon!

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

The Midwife Murders, by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

Seven stars

With another collaborative effort, James Patterson and Richard DiLallo present a thriller that will touch on some of the most panicked possibilities that many parents could imagine. This book will help pass the time, though should not be considered one of their stronger efforts. Working in the heart of New York City, Lucy Ryuan is a senior midwife. She helps women all throughout their pregnancy journey, culminating in live births and the joy of parenthood. When two babies are kidnapped from the hospital while she is on shift, Lucy is highly concerned and can only imagine the horror that follows for two mothers. When a woman is found cut open, clinging to life as her newborn is nowhere to be found, Lucy knows that she will have to help the authorities take action. She learns of a case where someone has been trying to purchase babies from mothers, wondering if there may be a connection. While Lucy is eager to follow a few leads, the detective on the case wants her out of his hair and sends her on a temporary vacation. Lucy and her son make their way to West Virginia, where Lucy’s family resides. While her mind is off the kidnapped babies, Lucy is forced to face some skeletons in her familial closet and come to terms with a past she hoped to put on the back burner. When the authorities learn of a potential new baby sale, Lucy’s called back to New York, where she can help with a sting operation. However, this is no regular couple looking for a baby and Lucy may find herself in a great deal of trouble. A decent book to add to the massive Patterson collection. Recommended to those who like the quick Patterson style, as well as readers who like a unique-style mystery.

While I know that this book has received mixed reviews, I tried to go into the experience with an open mind. I did not feel the book was as horrid as some panned it in their reviews, but I was also not left in a state of awe at the superior writing style. Patterson and DiLallo offer up an interesting mystery, told from a unique angle. Lucy Ryuan proves to be a decent protagonist, bringing a unique profession into the spotlight. Serving as a midwife, she educates the reader throughout the novel about her profession, while showing a great deal of compassion for the mothers and babies with whom she deals on a regular basis. The authors paint a well-rounded picture of Lucy’s life as a single mother, though some of the more rom-com moments proved to be a little over the top. She is gritty and shows where her priorities lie as she fights for the newly-born in a world where the lives of babies are sold for a price. Others who grace the pages of the book offer their own perspectives, flavouring things and keeping the story going. I cannot say that there were any that stuck out tremendously, but most could stand on their own. The story was decent enough, trying to find out who was kidnapping babies and then selling them, though there were some overly stereotypical discussions and antagonist labelling throughout. I was pleased to see Patterson and DiLallo tacking the ongoing issue with opioid overdose in a tangential plot line while Lucy was in West Virginia. This is an issue that has received much attention in the news, though it was also handled with grace here, neither diluting it nor making it into some sensational revelation. Overall, it was an enjoyable reading experience, though I am not sure it will resonate for months to come with it. Still, Patterson books tend to be good fillers between larger reading experiences.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and DiLallo, for this interesting piece of writing. Your parental sides are surely shining here, though I suspect you needed help with some of the more technical birthing terms.

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

The Coast-to-Coast Murders, by James Patterson and J.D. Barker

Nine stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley; James Patterson; J.D Barker; and Little Brown and Company for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

This first-time collaborative effort shows that some authors have amazing chemistry with James Patterson, adding depth and intrigue to a novel that keeps the reader enthralled until the very end. With great psychological build-up and stunning development throughout, James Patterson and J.D. Barker take the reader on the most intense journey as a serial killer is revealed. When Michael Kepler (Fitzgerald) is called back to his apartment by a nosy neighbour, he suspects it’s a burst water pipe that has flooded his place. When he discovers the body of a woman in his tub, he is not only disturbed, but highly agitated. After calling the authorities, it is soon discovered that this cross-country truck driver may not be telling the truth, as the victim seems to know him quite well. Her apartment is full of photos of Michael and they seem to have shared quite the intense relationship. However, Michael is sure he has never met her, even if a great deal of evidence says otherwise. When he is taken into custody and questioned, the attorney provided for him violently helps Michael flee LAPD custody and off they go. Michael’s sister, Megan, receives many calls from her brother and is trying to piece this all together. Both are unsure what’s going on, but they fear telling their mother, a renowned psychologist, who is sure to judge them both harshly. When FBI Special Agent Jessica Gimble is alerted to the crimes, she reaches out to let the LAPD know that Michael Fitzgerald is a wanted serial killer for many murders across the country, the manhunt is on to find him. As the story progresses, Michael tries to assert his innocence, though there is something about his past that leads him to second guess himself. Adopted at four by a wily psychiatrist, Michael becomes a test subject in a number of highly intense studies based on his horrible early childhood. As the chase continues, Megan tries her best to help a brother she thought she knew well, but has come to believe that he might be the monster everyone seems certain he has become. It will take a great deal of effort to keep Michael out of the hands of authorities, though the bodies are piling up and there does not seem to be any way to explain it all away…. or is there? A chilling story that will take the reader on one of the most far-flung rides of their reading career, as the pieces slowly fall into place. Stunning in its delivery, this is sure to show that James Patterson does still have some magic left in him, depending on who is collaborating with him. Recommended to those who love the work of J.D. Barker, as well the reader whose enjoyment of intense psychological thrillers is second to none.

I always enjoy a great psychological thriller, particularly when it is penned by one of the greats in the genre. This unique collaboration has proven to be one of the great surprises of my reading adventure this year and it works so very well, as the story flows smoothly without being too quick to end. Michael Kepler/Fitzgerald is quite a complex character, though all becomes a little more understandable as the story progresses. Taken from a horrific situation, Michael was placed in an institution and then adopted by a family who saw him more as a lab rat than anything else. He is intensely scarred by the experience, which is revealed throughout the piece, especially as he remembers bits of his past. There is some obvious development to his character throughout, though it remains somewhat questionable as more is revealed about his life and the murders he is said to have committed. The banter between Michael and Megan is also key to this story, as she takes on a secondary protagonist role in this piece, helping to fill in many of the gaps the reader might not understand otherwise. This pair help lead the story in many curious directions, though the full cast of characters do a wonderful job of keeping the reader entertained throughout this long and meandering piece. There are so many angles and such flavouring of the narrative that the characters all play an integral role in the story’s overall success. This is definitely one of the most thrilling rides I have taken in a novel in a long time, as the story gains momentum, so did my interest. While the size of the book may seem daunting, the action and constant story development help to propel things forward. Using the usual Patterson quick chapter recipe, the reader can tackle large chunks without feeling the onerous task of wading through this piece, finding a rhythm and working with it until all is revealed. There are also numerous perspectives told in the story, offering the reader an even more intense look at the overall development of the piece as it progresses. Patterson and Barker have so many interesting ideas and some strong subplots in this piece, there is no doubt that this is sure to be one of those novels people talk about for months to come, while many hope to see another piece by these two heavyweights before too long. I am still trying to wrap my head around what I read and hope others feel as strongly as I do about this novel.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Barker, for this sensational piece. While there is always a gamble when collaborating, you two have hit the nail on the head and I cannot wait to see what’s next!

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

Cajun Justice, by James Patterson and Tucker Axum III

Eight stars

Looking forward to some new collaborative efforts, I picked up this piece by James Patterson and Tucker Axum III. The story held my attention throughout and broke some of the traditional Patterson stylistic choices, which only added to the intrigue and entertainment. Secret Service Agent Cain Lemaire has a great position on the US President’s advance security team, which is how he finds himself in South America. When Lemaire tries to cover for one of his fellow agents, he ends up paying off a prostitute and lands the entire team in some hot water. Summoned back to DC, Lemaire is placed in quite the predicament and his Secret Service career is all but done, pending a review. Lemaire has little else to do, other than to return to Louisiana, where his family awaits. After some coaxing by his twin sister, Bonnie, and with an interest to turn the heat down in America, Lemaire agrees to a job in Japan. He’ll be heading up a security detail for an automobile executive who has been in some hot water of his own. When Lemaire arrives, he is not only greeted by the cultural differences, but also a sister who is very excited to see him. Lemaire and Bonnie enjoy catching up before it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Lemaire assesses the team he will lead and discovers some weaknesses that need reorganising. This is even more important when an assassination attempt rocks Lemaire and his team. While he remains ever vigilant, Lemaire agrees to some downtime, where he discovers another side of Bonnie, one that never seemed to have made it into their numerous conversations. This leads to a few fists being tossed and Lemaire soon learns that he has attacked one of the yakuza, the Asian Mafia. When Bonnie goes missing, the message is clear, forcing Lemaire to realise that this is no group worth ignoring. While he balances a massive search for his sister, Lemaire also finds solace in a colleague and reveals much about his past. Bonnie’s life is surely hanging by a thread, as the yakuza have no issue with sending their captives into the depths of despair to prove a point. Cain Lemaire will have to rely on his skills and some key assets in Japan to find his sister and clear his name in media outlets. A great book that pulls intensity out of all corners to leave the reader wanting more. Recommended to those who enjoy culture shock novels, as well as those who find pleasure in some of Patterson’s better collaborations.

I may have a love/hate relationship for books that bear James Patterson’s name on the cover, but this was a wonderful surprise and I hope others in my position take note. Working with Tucker Axum III, Patterson is able to pull on his collaborator’s experiences to craft a wonderful book that keeps the reader hooked throughout. One will presume that Cain Lemaire has some parallels to Axum, which helps add depth and intrigue to the protagonist. Forced out of the job he loves, Lemaire must reinvent himself and find solace halfway around the world. This move to Japan not only opens Lemaire’s eyes to a new culture, but helps him heal from a personal tragedy he’s kept hidden. There is both strong backstory and character development in this piece, permitting the reader to see the full gamut of Cain Lemaire and his abilities to rise above it all. Others within the book offer the reader some interesting insight into life within many circles: the Secret Service, Cajun traditionalists, as well as the Japanese. All these groups highlight different portions of the book and shine their experiences on Cain Lemaire, who traverses through them with some degree of ease. The story was quite entertaining from the outset, leaving the reader to wonder if this might be a political thriller, with POTUS in the middle of a scandal, but soon develops into a wonderful story that takes the reader through a significant culture shock. The authors present the Japanese lifestyle quite effectively here, contrasting and comparing while also developing a great story that never loses momentum. There is something for everyone with his book and is sure to keep many talking about the superior nature of the piece, while others posit about the likelihood that Cain Lemaire will be back again. I’d read more from this collaboration if they ended up being as strong, while I also applaud James Patterson for finding someone who has upped what can sometimes be mediocre publishing efforts.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Axum, for a great piece. I am eager to see what comes of your work and how others react to it.

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

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

The Summer House, by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois

Eight stars

Renewing their collaborative efforts, James Patterson and Brendan DuBois present readers with an intense and thrilling read in this new standalone novel. Working a military investigation angle, the authors do more than pump up the US Military, able to spin a mystery like few others I have read of late. In a small Georgia community lies a large house, referred to by locals as the Summer House. However, after seven civilians, including one child, are slain there, the moniker Murder House seems a better fit. Under 48 hours after the bodies are discovered, four Army Rangers are arrested and taken into custody. Enter the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and Major Jeremiah Cook. When Cook’s team is summoned from Virginia, they are tasked with going down to ensure that the Rangers receive the justice they deserve, as well as discover the culpability that may be involved. When Cook and his team arrive, they receive cold shoulders from the local sheriff and police force, as well as the local military personnel. It would seem that the case is fairly straightforward and any more people snooping around is an insult to all involved. However, Cook has his Army psychiatrist attempt to interview the Rangers to get a better idea of what happened, coming up short as they shut down. Soon, one of the Rangers takes drastic measures so as not to share anything. The local D.A. is happy to move forward, hoping for some capital crimes to boost his notoriety. While Cook feels that things are moving along, he cannot help but wonder if he is missing something, as though there is more to the story that no one wants to share. When his commanding officer is temporarily replaced, Cook is told the team is being sent home and their report will be buried. Could there be a cover-up involved to ensure no truths see the light of day? Working on a hunch and without permission of his superiors, Cook sneaks off to the other side of the world to get some answers, hoping his hunch is more than a gut feeling. As the list of witnesses diminish and increased violence leads some of posit that someone’s trying to erase the truth, the CID team must act fast to get some answers for themselves and the locals. A thrilling ride that leaves the reader in the middle of an intense read throughout. Patterson and DuBois have outdone themselves with this piece. Recommended to those who love investigative novels with a military twist, as well as the reader who enjoys some of Patterson’s better collaborative efforts.

I know I tend to whinge when it comes to James Patterson and his numerous publications, but I have a standard that I prefer not be violated in order to sell fluff novels. Patterson has been able to find some quality collaborators over the years and this is one instance in which the novel lived up to the hype. Brendan DuBois injects a great sense of plot and development here and I applaud him for that. The entire CID team can be considered the protagonists of the piece, offering their unique characteristics and perspectives to solving the case at hand. All of them chip in to bring their expertise to the table and much is revealed throughout. Backstories and some evolution in the characters occur throughout, allowing the reader a sense of connection to each of them in their own way. Some of the secondary characters do the same, spinning subplots that keep the story moving ahead and flavouring the narrative so as not to lose any of the momentum. The story itself was unique in a way, as it sought not only to solve a basic crime, but to dig a little deeper and force the reader to think. With a strong narrative that takes on a variety of perspectives, the reader can feel entirely surrounded by the action and in the middle of the developments. Able to effectively break Patterson’s trademark short chapter style without sacrificing fast-pace action, the story clips along and the reader begs to know more before the end. I was pleasantly surprised by this book and the collaborative effort that went into its creation. While I suspect it will be a standalone, I would not mind more in a series, as long as Patterson does not sacrifice quality for quantity, as seems to be his downfall of late.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and DuBois, for a great novel that came out of nowhere. I am hope others who are on the fence about Patterson give this one a try and see what a good collaborator can do for a novel.

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

The Houe of Kennedy, by James Patterson and Cynthia Fagen

Eight stars

There has been so much written about the Kennedys in the last half century that when I noticed James Patterson and Cynthia Fagen had collaborated on a piece about the family, I was not sure what they could bring to the table. After trying to keep an open mind, I was pleasantly surprised by the contents of this book, which acts as a basic primer, offering some biographical backgrounds with a peppering of the scandals that have plagued the family for close to a century. Patterson and Fagen look to the roots of the Kennedy family, where Joseph Sr. and Rose were both highly active in their respective households. Catholic to the core, the Kennedys began having children and watching them grow. There are brief snippets about Joseph Jr. and Rosemary, before the book delves into the meatier aspects of John, Robert, and Edward ‘Teddy’ Kennedy. These three men, the core political wing of the family, all suffered through their own scandals and tragedies, but also are shown to have brought about change in their own ways. From there, the book looks at some of the offshoot cousins, who were not removed from scandalous behaviours, such as murder and rape, before setting the path for the final Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr. In a book full of vignettes, the authors do well to provide the reader with some superficial information to whet their appetites. Recommended to Kennedy fans who may want to know a little more (such as myself), as well as the reader who enjoys some biographical non-fiction about one of America’s well-known dynasties.

I label myself as a Kennedy fan of high order, though I have often looked within the political realm, rather than many of the scalacious and dramatic histories that many writers have uncovered. When I saw this collaborative effort, I could not help but wonder if this would be a slapped-together piece, full of basic information an elementary history tome could offer. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see the detail and attention to flow that occurs within the book. While the authors do gloss over a great deal, the amount that is covered—not to mention some of the little known facts about which I had no idea—is staggering and offered a well-rounded picture of America’s best known dynasty. The authors seem not to push their opinions too strongly, choosing instead to present the reader with something full of information and cited to boot. While I am still stymied as to why James Patterson’s name would appear on the book, as he is surely a thriller writer above all else, its presence will certainly help Cynthia Fagen gain needed recognition. I suspect this is a case of ‘JP on the cover, the book automatically sells’. Fagen’s work here does much to buoy my impression of the contents and the style of writing was so easily synthesised that I may have to see what else she’s penned on the subject. With short chapters (perhaps the Patterson influence) and a story that pushes forward throughout, this is not a book to dismiss at first sight. I may just have to find some of the areas about which I want to know more and proceed from there.

Kudos, Mr. Patterson and Madam Fagen, for a refreshing look at a family who has spent decades under the microscope. You breathe new life into this stuff and I am happy to have taken the time to read it.

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

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