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:

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:

20th Victim (Women’s Murder Club #20), by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Eight stars

James Patterson and Maxine Paetro are back with another instalment of the Women’s Murder Club, keeping fans entertained throughout with their insightful plots and character development. San Francisco is buzzing with an odd series of sniper murders, which forces Sergeant Lindsay Boxer to take notice. What’s worse is that these sniper killings seem to be happening all over the country, timed to occur simultaneously. While Boxer and the SFPD work to track down a killer or at least a motive, Chronicle reporter Cindy Thomas is contacted anonymously by someone with information about the crimes and predicts some of the future attacks. While she runs down her own story, Boxer seeks to better understand the victims, soon learning that they are all small-time (and somewhat secretive) drug dealers in their own right. Boxer’s husband, Joe, has his own plate overfilling when a best friend has some information about a local doctor that could have large implications. While all this is taking place, one of the cornerstone members of the Club receives horrible news that could derail her and cause the four central members to fall apart. With a killer communicating through an interesting fashion and calling soldiers to arms, Boxer and her team will have to work quickly to shut it down before the blood keeps flowing. A well-crafted piece that will have readers eager to race through to the end, where truth is apparent. Recommended to series fans, as well as those who need a lighter crime thriller.

I have often struggled with Patterson’s work, as many will know. I find that too often he sees to churn things out too quickly, leaving his collaborators to suffer my wrath as well. After a less than stellar 19th novel (many felt the same), these two have been able to redeem themselves and put on a wonderful instalment of the Women’s Murder Club. The stories were well developed and kept the reader’s attention, which makes the book flow all the better. Countless sub-plots keep the reader entertained, even when there was little movement on the main murder theme. Patterson and Paetro use some of the backstories of these core characters to their advantage, allowing for a little growth or at least some advancement in ongoing plots, without bogging things down too much. I would love to see something truly earth shattering that would force the group to rethink their place and how the Club works, though I am not sure if the authors are ready to pull out such a major event quiet yet. With short chapters and a story that has no time to catch its breath, this book serves as a treat for those who are dedicated to the series, as well as potentially making new fans want to go back and piece this complex web together for themselves. I cannot wait to see what else is on the horizon for this series, and yet would love to see Patterson meld his three great series (Boxer-Cross-Bennett) into a well-timed crossover. That may be too Herculean an effort, but I am hoping.

Kudos, Mr. Patterson and Madam Paetro, for a great piece that adds to this series that has been part of my reading experience for many years.

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

Blindside (Michael Bennett #12), by James Patterson and James O. Born

Seven stars

A fan of the Michael Bennett series, I was pleased to get my hands on the latest novel, which exemplifies the collaborative efforts of James Patterson and James O. Born. In a story that does little for Bennett’s character development, but showcases his abilities, the authors provide the reader with a decent crime thriller set on both sides of the Atlantic. While working a double murder, Michael Bennett stops in at a local store, where things take a turn for the worse and he shoots two men attempting to mug him. While Bennett is sure it was a justified shooting, the public are not so sure. Bennett takes some time off, which allows him to enjoy a little family time, but that is cut short with Internal Affairs wants him to meet with the mayor. At this meeting the mayor asks for some help on a case that must remain off the books. The mayor’s daughter has been missing for weeks and Bennett is asked to find her, but tell no one of the job. As Natalie Lunden is deep into the world of computer hackers, Bennett starts there, finding himself following a few leads. When others with ties to Lunden turn up dead, Bennett is sure he is onto something and ends up in a firefight while trying to protect a close friend of Natalie’s. All this leads to an infamous hacker in Estonia, which will be an adventure in and of itself. With no financial support, Bennett will have to make the trip and work with some of the resources the NYPD and FBI can provide there, though the latter wants him out of the country as soon as he arrives. While Bennett looks for Natalie in and around the capital, he encounters the ruthless killers from NYC, who will stop at nothing from keeping Bennett from making his way back to America with the mayor’s daughter. Stretching himself as thin as he has ever been, Michael Bennett must remember who awaits him at home and how his safety is of paramount importance. A decent thriller in a series that may be showing signs of closure. Recommended to series fans who want to check in on Bennett, as well as those who enjoy crime thrillers that span the globe.

Some of James Patterson’s work tends to grate on my nerves because it lacks that hook that I like in my thrillers. However, he is usually able to work effectively with James O. Born to find a happy medium to his work. Michael Bennett has done much in his career, while supporting a massive family. He works well within the NYPD structure, though is always looking to challenge some of the authority and red tape that he finds useless. In this piece, Bennett is challenged at every turn and stays level-headed throughout, while juggling a personal life that has a fiancée looking to set a date. His resourcefulness is front and centre as he enters Estonia, seeking to find someone and leave, but things never end up being that easy. Others keep the story flowing well and the reader can enjoy a variety of personalities as they clash on the page. The story worked well, though I found it lacked the intensity I needed. Bennett’s mission was a locate and return, with little mystery involved. The early search on US soil seemed to lack something as Bennett bounced around from one person to the next, all before landing the big lead. Perhaps I am cynical or used to something a little more action-packed, but I will return to see if Michael Bennett and his brood have more to offer.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Born, for a decent addition to the series. Eager to see what’s to come for Bennett and your collaborative efforts.

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

Lost, by James Patterson and James O. Born

Seven stars

In their latest collaborative effort, James Patterson and James O. Born tackle the world of human trafficking with an American twist. Tom Moon is a Miami PD detective who heads up a multi-agency task force with a focus on international crime. After being able to foil a child trafficking ring at the Miami Airport, Tom takes it upon himself to ensure the children are safely returned. He takes the flight to Amsterdam, where he crosses paths with a Dutch National Police detective who shares his passion for keeping people safe. Whispers on the street is that the Russian Mob is seeking to ship a large group back through Miami, mostly children to be sold into the sex trade. Tom must not only hone in on the traffickers, but also determine when and how these people will slip into the United States. Even when the plot is revealed, it will take more to destroy this Hydra before it grows another and more sinister head. The race to save young children is on, but it will take an open-minded hierarchy and nerves of steel, particularly when a ruthless Russian will do whatever it takes to pad his pocket. A decent crime thriller that shows the authors are not out of fresh and catchy ideas. While there are some wrinkles, it was an enjoyable read, leaving me wanting more by this duo.

I have often struggled when a book sells based on the Patterson name, rather than the quality of the work. I have read a number of Patterson-Born novels, most of which kept me entertained throughout the experience. Tom Moon proves to be an interesting protagonist, whose backstory and character development are revealed throughout. Juggling the high-impact world of international crime with the struggles of a mother and sister in need of his help, Tom seems capable of doing what is needed to ensure that all the boxes are checked. He has a sense of humour and yet knows when to be serious on the job. Having shown his passion for children, the reader can connect with him and he will likely keep evolving, if the rumours of a series come to fruition. The supporting characters are equally interesting and help keep the story moving forward. I can only hope that some will return to develop themselves a little more. The plot was decent and the story clipped along well, perhaps because of Patterson’s trademark short chapters and constant cliffhangers, but there were times I sought more momentum from the plot and the building narrative. I can only hope that the collaboration continues and sharper presentation is part of future releases.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Born, for writing effectively, even if you have yet to ‘eclipse’ others in the genre.

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

The River Murders (Three Mitchum BookShots), by James Patterson and James O. Born

Eight stars

As I open this collection of three BookShots by James Patterson and James O. Born, I turned immediately to the third and most recent story. Having read the other two beforehand, I post my reviews of them below, as well as the new review for the final story. Enjoy the flashback and some new thoughts, if you please!


James O. Born works alongside James Patterson in the first of this BookShot series that will have readers hooked and quite curious as they travel to upstate New York. Mitchum enjoys the quiet life in Marlboro, away from the fast-paced living of NYC, but still surrounded by a community that thrives on the daily bustle. When he learns that his niece, Bailey Mae, has gone missing, this unofficial P.I. takes matters into his own hands. Working with the local sheriff’s detachment and those around town, Mitchum learns that three shady individuals have been seen around town. Bailey Mae’s famous coffee cakes prove a useful trail, though when two elderly residents are found murdered in their home and a fresh cake sits on the counter, Mitchum becomes more concerned. His past training as a Navy SEAL allows him to forge headlong into the search, still trying to determine who these strangers might be and if they are involved in the kidnapping, or if Bailey Mae is somehow involved. Forced to turn to his drug-dealing brother, Mitchum uses whispers on the street to help him track down any evidence that might lead to Bailey Mae’s safe return. Time is running out, but family ties seem to be unbreakable for Mitchum, fuelling his determination to bring a happy ending to this small town. A quick and captivating story for BookShot fans and those who need a little thrill with their coffee. Patterson and Born have a recipe for success here!

I am on a roll with my current BookShots binge, having found some real winners out there. There is usually little time for character development, but the authors have been able to weave the story of Robert ‘call me Mitchum’ Mitchum into the fabric of this thriller. The small town feel to the story is not lost on the reader, as Mitchum combs through the residents to garner enough clues to help solve the case. Additionally, the vast array of characters on offer may prove useful if the series continues past the next-known published piece. The story itself is interesting and the short chapters keep the story propelling forward without the reader feeling too stuck in any single environ. Patterson and Born work well together and bring the story to life, just as I would expect with a BookShot, which leaves little time to catch one’s breath. I need to get my hands on the next story in the series, as I am still highly impressed with what I’ve read.


James O. Born returns to work alongside James Patterson again in the follow-up BookShot of the Mitchum series. Readers will likely remain impressed with this piece, as it has all the impact of a great short story without losing any of the needed character and story development. Mitchum enjoys his quiet life in upstate New York, where he can deliver his daily newspapers and run an unofficial P.I. business on the side. When his brother, Natty, calls with a problem, Mitchum seems skeptical. However, when a homicide is involved, the brothers reunite, post haste. Mitchum learns that a high school friend has been slain, potentially by a fellow drug dealer. As one who ‘enhances recreational activities’ himself, Natty can attest to the fact that there are some out there who want nothing more than to bury Peter Stahl, but not before discovering the secret he has about a new and ‘hot’ commodity for the street. As Mitchum works to iron out all the details, he learns that Natty is deeply in love with the deceased’s wife, which could prove to be a problem. Before Mitchum can learn much more, Natty been hauled away to jail, the primary suspect in the murder. It is now a race to find the true killer and clear Natty’s name, forcing Mitchum to look under every rock, where corrupt figures wait for their slice of the pie. A wonderful follow-up piece that pushes the reader into the middle of the action as Mitchum forges ahead at top speed. BookShot fans will surely enjoy this piece, both for its excitement and quick pace.

This weekend of BookShot reading has proven to be highly useful and I have come across a number of wonderful pieces. James O. Born surely has a handle on this series, which continues to build, and avid readers can only hope that Patterson will turn to him many more times in the future. While short, the story allows more character development as it relates to Robert ‘call me Mitchum’ Mitchum, both from a familial perspective and with his own personal sentiments. The reader can enjoy a dash of sarcasm and some heartfelt emotion without missing out on what ends up being something worth the hour of reading time. The story is by no means unique, but it holds the attention of the read throughout, paced with short chapters and quick development. Anyone who needs a decent filler between major reading assignments can turn to this piece and not be disappointed. I can only hope that Mitchum will be back soon, rising to the top amidst the supersaturation of BookShots in the e-book domain. Readers ought to keep an eye out for these and will surely find something to appeal to their thriller side.


James Patterson and James O. Born return for a third short novel (BookShot) in this interesting series. Mitchum continues to work as an unofficial P.I., but the work is less than invigorating in the small community near Marlboro, in upstate New York. When his mother is hit by a vehicle, witness statements make it seem to have been intentional. Working with his reformed brother, Natty, Mitchum tries to determine who would be doing such a thing. Soon, a man from his past emerges to threaten Mitchum and tells him to stand down. During the confrontation, Natty’s shot and the man flees, protected by the feds for reasons unknown. Mitchum takes up a friend’s offer to work security in Afghanistan, which will allow him to keep tabs on this mystery man. However, things take a turn and Mitchum finds himself in trouble in a faraway land with no one aware of his situation. Will Mitchum be able to find the answers he needs and keep his family safe from any further fallout from all his impetuous actions? Another great addition to the Mitchum series, which has worked very well in all three pieces. Recommended for fans of Patterson’s BookShots, as well as those readers who enjoy a quick story to pass the time.

While I have never shied away from sharing my issues with James Patterson’s writing over the years, I have always enjoyed reading his BookShots, which give a full adventure in only half the time. I remember reading the other two books in this series back when I was on a BookShots binge and enjoyed them. This third piece was a wonderful return to what I remembered enjoying. Mitchum is still trying to mix tranquility of small town living with staying mentally sharp. He remains a strong family man, as protective as he can be, but still seeks to find his niche. This story provides him a new opportunity to find his way, which will hopefully work out for the best. Others in the story help propel things forward effectively, complementing Mitchum on occasion, or pushing him to his limits at other times. The story was well-crafted, showing the effectiveness of the Patterson-Born collaboration. I have found they work well together and keep the stories fresh, intense, and poignant as the reader follows the narrative path with ease. Patterson’s short chapter recipe is one display here and it keeps the story moving effectively forward. I hope there are more ideas, Mitchum and otherwise, from these two and will keep my eyes open.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Born, for another wonderful collection of stories that entertain as well as educate the reader in short order.

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

Ali Cross, by James Patterson

Eight stars

James Patterson has a new treat for his young adult (read: teen) fans with this long-awaited debut featuring Ali Cross. Many longtime Patterson fans will know of Alex Cross and his youngest—yet also precocious—son, Ali, who sees things outside of the box. While the entire Cross clan is gathered for Christmas, Ali has other things on his mind. His friend, Gabe, is missing and no one seems to be doing much about it. Ali wants nothing more than to help find his close friend, but the case seems to be gathering little but a peppering of snow over the holiday season. If that were not enough, his father, Dr. Alex Cross, is facing assault charges for a recent arrest that left a suspect in a coma after a fall. While the Cross family remains strong, Ali cannot help but wonder if he needs to do more to help the situation. He enlists the help of his father, as well as his step-mother, Bree Stone, to get some answers and to help fill in some of the blanks around Gabe’s location. Then, it’s time to enter the world of the tween, where social media and gaming takes over, allowing Ali to discover some new and disturbing clues that could help him with his search. As Alex is distracted with his own worries, young Ali takes a gamble or two to save his friend. Problem is, like his father, Ali sometimes forgets to put his safety first, which could have dire consequences. When Ali is able to reach Gabe through a video game they enjoy, this only leads to more complications and places both boys in a heap of trouble. A stellar piece by Patterson that will surely loop in a new generation of Cross fans, with a story that is equally appealing to those who have long enjoyed anything with CROSS in the title. Recommended for young and not so youthful readers looking for a great mystery, as well as Alex Cross fans who want a dose of something a little less intense.

I recently finished James Patterson’s latest Alex Cross novel, which saw an increase in Ali’s presence. It felt fitting to turn to this shorter piece to give Ali his time in the spotlight and to see if younger readers were getting the same intensity in their novels related to this DC family. Patterson does well to pull a new set of Cross fans in, setting a mystery with Ali in the middle. Ali Cross is a middle-schooler who has all the tools to live a 21st century life, including an online presence that keeps him in touch with his friends. However, he has Cross blood in his veins and if he is not going to excel in athletics like his siblings, he might as well take up sleuthing. The reader can see this throughout this piece, as Ali Cross comes into his own. He loves a good mystery and has the empathy to make his work mean something. Other characters help pave the way to a successful story, including Alex Cross, which enriches the entire reading experience. While it is hard to place this on the Alex Cross timeline of books, there is surely a little character development for Alex and Ali, though it might be in a vacuum and not entirely in line with the chronology of the larger Cross series (if that makes sense as I pen it now). The story was strong and helped introduce the reader to Ali Cross in such a way that readers will want to know more. With some eerie goings-on in the Alex Cross series and a few hints that Ali Cross has not tripped on his only mystery, Patterson keeps readers of all ages wondering what will come next in the Cross saga and how long until Ali takes over the spotlight, letting Alex relax and fade into the role of advisor, rather than ‘feet on the ground’ detective.

Kudos, Mr. Patterson, for another great piece in the Cross series. This one has remained solid and I do wish you would focus on those pieces that are stellar, rather than mass producing every idea brought to your feet, for money and acclaim.

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

Criss Cross (Alex Cross #27), by James Patterson

Eight stars

James Patterson returns with one of his foundations series, exploring the further adventures of Alex Cross in this intense crime thriller. As the novel opens, Dr. Alex Cross is on his way to the execution of a man he helped put away for some gruesome murders. While the man’s family professes this is a frame-up, Cross is sure the evidence tells a different story. After watching the electrocution, Cross and his partner are called to the scene of a crime, one that makes he wonder if he might have made a major mistake. A crime scene awaits him, similar to those the aforementioned killer appeared to have left, along with a mocking note signed “M”. Cross scrambles to understand what’s going on and how this will reflect on him. As Cross thinks back to the case from years ago, he is forced to wonder if he got wrapped up in a quick solve, rather than weighing all the evidence. As he tries to crack open the ‘M’ case, Cross is faced with a few more copycat killings from other notorious killers he’s put away. Nothing is more disturbing than a few sightings of his greatest nemesis, Kyle Craig, who apparently died right before Cross’ eyes a few years before. As Cross seeks to uncover the great ‘M’, he is taunted repeatedly and is surely being watched from afar. When terror strikes within the Cross household, ‘M’ claims responsibility, but will stop at nothing until Alex Cross is permanently neutralized. An interesting addition to the series, which has gone on for quite a while. One must wonder if Cross might want to hang up his cuffs and enjoy a quieter life. Recommended to those who enjoy Alex Cross and his various adventures, as well as those who find solace in James Patterson’s work.

I admit that I have long been a critic of Patterson’s work, as I find it is usually rushed and slapped together in haste, selling so well because of a name and not the quality of the story. The Alex Cross series has usually been quite well written and the stories remain believable throughout the many novels that are pieces of this collection. There is little room for backstory with Alex Cross, but Patterson os keen to show how he is always on the ball to catch a killer in new and interesting ways. Cross is a family man to the core, balancing work, marriage, and his children as best he can. Patterson offers up some added information about the youngest Cross, Ali, which likely parallels his decision to create a young adult collection featuring Ali going forward. The reader gets a little more about the middle child, daughter Jannie, who is set to make some major academic decisions, fully supported by her father. Other characters find their spots in the narrative and keep the reader on their toes, while never distracting from the larger plot. The use of ‘M’ as a copycat-cum-new villain will have interesting impacts, should the series continue for the foreseeable future. The story was well written and in line with much of the past novels in the series, with Patterson using his quick chapters to lure the reader to “read a little more”. While not the best of the collection, it will keep me reading this series. On that note, one must wonder if Cross is ending his run soon, as he has reached a large number of adventures. If so, perhaps he, Michael Bennett, and Lindsay Boxer could work together, even once? It has been my long-time plea.

Kudos, Mr. Patterson, for another good read. I hope series fans are satisfied and that you will focus your attention on these stronger series and keep the vapid writing for others to pen.

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

19th Christmas (Women’s Murder Club #19), by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Eight stars

The Women’s Murder Club is back with another thrilling tale set in the days around the holiday season, headed by the great collaboration of James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. While out shopping with her family, Detective Lindsay Boxer encounters a man who is disrupting holiday shoppers as he flees in a panic. Once in an interrogation room, the man spills that he has news of an upcoming ‘big event’ that is set to happen on Christmas Day. Not wanting to take any chances, Lindsay takes up the case, looking for a mysterious ‘Loman’ who might hold all the answers. While following leads, Boxer and her SFPD Homicide team are pushed in many directions, some red herrings, while others seem to point to a major heist only a few days away. Meanwhile, while working on a Christmas story, Cindy uncovers an undocumented man who has been sitting in prison for two years, charged with a murder he says he did not commit. Working her angle, Cindy soon pulls Yuki in from the D.A.’s office and tries to bring a little holiday cheer to a family that has been frazzled for the past few years. When Boxer and her crew feel they may be close to an answer, all things go haywire at the airport, on Christmas Day no less, forcing everyone to take drastic actions in order to save the general public. Well into this series, Patterson and Paetro still have a great handle on the series that does not show signs of letting up. Recommended for series fans looking to augment their holiday season, as well as those readers who enjoy the quick pace of a well-written Patterson novel.

This book is a true gift and will likely be one that series fans have been hoping to receive. While there seems to have been some confusion with readers who were baffled throughout the eighteenth instalment, Patterson and Paetro were forced—silly, as it is—to explain the flashback they used in the past novel and promised that this instalment was entirely present-tense. The returning characters proved highly entertaining, not least of which Lindsay Boxer. She has left her character development and backstory behind, but is ready to tackle anything set before her as she hunts down a man keen on causing trouble at Christmas. Others characters will be familiar to many who are well-versed in the series, as well as adding a few new faces. The story ran well and sped along with quick chapters that push the reader to ‘try a few more pages’. At a time when no one can be sure what Patterson will do with the books bearing his name, this was a refreshing return to his strong skills, alongside the equally capable Maxine Paetro. A great stocking stuffer, if the reader can wait that long. If not, pull out the apple cider or eggnog and offer up a cup as the reader devours this treat!

Kudos, Mr. Patterson and Madam Paetro, for another great book in the series. I hope you two have the collaborative stamina to keep going.

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

Killer Instinct (Instinct #2), by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

Eight stars

In another thrilling collaborative effort, James Patterson and Howard Roughan bring another thriller full of geo-politicking and some criminal elements to readers who have been hungering for another stellar novel. Dr. Dylan Reinhart is still living off the glory of uncovering a serial killer when a new situation makes his blood run cold. There has been another terrifying attack on New York City (shocking, no?!) and the casualty count is quite large. One name in particular causes Reinhart to squirm, but not simply because of the loss of life. Reunited with his old partner, Detective Elizabeth Needham, Reinhart begins to sift through the rubble—both literal and figurative—in order to find out who might be behind the attack. There are whispers that an apparent auto-erotic event that left an Ivy League professor dead could be tied into all this, though the parallels are weak. However, any time ‘Iran’ and ‘nuclear’ can be put into the same sentence, there is at least some red flag being raised. With Reinhart and Needham working every angle, they soon learn that the strike could be more than a simple act of terror, but an international play to move policy in a certain direction. However, it would seem the blast was only the beginning, with more attacks planned at unknown locations. As time ticks away, Reinhart and Needham will have to use all the resources at their disposal to get answers, but there’s a wrinkle or two they could not have expected, which sends the entire case in new and troubling directions. Patterson and Roughan do well to develop a strong story and keep the reader engrossed until the final page-turn. Recommended for those who enjoy some light thriller reading, especially the reader who enjoys Patterson when he’s on his game.

While it is sometimes a risk when James Patterson’s name appears on a book jacket, this novel is a strong collaborative effort. Everything seems to come together nicely and the end result is a book the reader can enjoy, even if they are forced to endure some cheesy jokes along the way. Dylan Reinhart and Elizabeth Needham are strong co-protagonists, working angles independently and together with much ease. Mixing some of their great personal backstories with strong character development allows the reader to feel a connection to them both, while not being left that the case is left on the back burner. The plethora of secondary characters offer wonderful tangents in an already strong piece. Patterson and Roughan serve up interesting interpretations of those working the case and stirring up trouble, including their own spin on geo-politics. The story emerges from these strong characterisations and keeps the reader engaged with the plot. Using Patterson’s short chapters and constant cliffhangers, the reader cannot help but want to forge onwards to get to the core of the story at hand. Well-paced and with just the right amount of sarcasm, this is one of Patterson’s stronger novels of the year. One can hope it is not lost in the shuffle.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Roughan, for a strong collaborative effort. I enjoy how well you work together and look forward for other joint ventures soon.

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