13-Minute Murder: A BookShot, by James Patterson and Shan Serafin

Seven stars

Note: This is a review solely of this short story, not the collection of three BookShots found in the published work bearing the same name. Please search each of the other two stories individually, as they were read and reviewed previously, also independently.

It is always nice to curl up with a BookShot to pass an hour or so, watching James Patterson and his collaborator try to sell the reader on their latest short story, with limited space for character and plot development. In this piece, Patterson invites Shan Serafin to join him on a journey into he world of hit men. When Mike Ryan and his associate are given a hit, it could net a payout that allows them to hang up their guns and live an honourable life. They find themselves on the campus of Harvard University, plotting the takedown of the son of a Croatian mob boss. Weighing all the factors, Ryan gives the green light, but things go horrible backwards, forcing him to scramble and try to make sense of what’s going wrong. This spirals into a manhunt for the person who ordered the hit, something that will cause much bloodshed as the body count mounts. When things get personal, Ryan finds himself willing to risk it all to find answers he never thought important before. Racing around Boston, Mike Ryan will cross paths with some of the more ruthless men to get answers, risking life and limb with little regard for anyone. An interesting story that develops in short order, but is not as gripping as I would have liked. BookShot fans may like this one, though the collaboration is far from Patterson’s best work.

I find myself drawn to BookShots, more because they are quick to digest than their stellar writing or plot development. James Patterson can be hit or miss with them, as he tends to be with all his writing, leaving the reader unsure what to expect when they start. This was a strong mediocre piece, with some interesting character presentation and a somewhat plausible plot, but I had hoped for something more gripping, with the premise laid out before me. Mike Ryan has been in the business of killing people for over a decade and has it down to an art. He sketches out the kill, the escape, and the blow-back fairly well, developing a great plan while also promising his wife that he will make an honest man out of himself before long. When faced with this last kill, things go wrong and the reader can see how he handles the unknown, while rubbing elbows with mob men who have no heart when it comes to killing those who cross them. Other characters are peppered throughout the piece and they move the story in somewhat of a forward direction, though some of the grittiest characters lack the sharp edges one would expect. It could be the limited space or the need to limit the plot, but I was left wanting much more from many of these characters. The plot had possibilities, especially when dealing with the criminal underbelly, but there was an noticeable lack of grit and action, as Mike Ryan sought retribution and tried to make this final kill one that would mean something. Shan Serafin does well to complement the Patterson juggernaut, though I was not entirely sold on their collaborative effort.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Serafin, for a decent output. I can see a lot of potential between you two, though I was not sold on the end product here.

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

Advertisements

The Cornwalls Are Gone, by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois

Eight stars

In their latest collaborative effort, James Patterson and Brendan DuBois offer readers an interesting thriller with elements of suspense throughout. Amy Cornwall is part of Army Intelligence and has a keen sense of foreboding. When she arrives home to discover that her husband and daughter are missing, her panic boils over. Worried about the worst, Amy is contacted by the kidnappers, who offer up a plan to have her collect a man in a small Texas town before delivering him and getting her family back. Not caring about the consequences, Amy goes AWOL from the Army and leaves her Virginia home to trek across the country. While on rural roads, she encounters a few troopers and her paranoia almost turns her into a murderer, wanting to get her family back above all else. Meanwhile, the ragtag group of kidnappers seem clueless to the larger plan and bide their time, keeping Tom Cornwall and his daughter in relative discomfort, at least until they are told otherwise. Unsure if Amy is coming, Tom can only wonder what’s led him to be held captive and whether this could be in retaliation to something Amy did while deployed. Amy makes her way across the country and takes matters into her own hands, killing people to secure the target, but is then sent on another wild goose chase, with local police and the military tracking her down for their own reasons, as the Cornwalls remain separated in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. A page-turner if ever there was one, Patterson and DuBois offer up a wonderful story that is full of entertainment until the very end. Recommended for those who need a good novel to keep them company on a rainy day or while on vacation!

Patterson novels are always a gamble, particularly when one never knows what awaits them. I have come to discover that collaborators can make all the difference, but even then, names plastered across the cover of a book tend to sell more than the quality of the story. Working with Brendan DuBois, James Patterson has crafted a wonderful piece that pulls the reader in and does not let go. Amy Cornwall, an Army vet, has much going for her, though there is a cloud looming over her from time overseas. She tries to put that in the back of her mind when she is forced to find her family without tipping anyone off to what’s happened. Gritty and determined to find success, Amy heads out on a mission whose end game is more important than anything else she has done in her life. Unsure of the rationale, Amy is determined to get to the root of the issue, letting that fuel a fire within her as she treks out to save those who matter most. There are a few other characters whose presence greases the wheels of the story, propelling it forward and keeping the narrative moving. Patterson and DuBois offer up wonderful plots to keep the characters working in harmony, those sometimes out of sync with one another. While the theme of the story may not be unique, its delivery is one that the reader will enjoy through to the very end, as they wonder what has led to this cross-country chase and who is pulling the strings. A great addition to Patterson’s vast library of thrillers, with much thanks to Brendan DuBois for keeping things on track.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and DuBois, for this great novel. Whether we see Amy Cornwall again or this was a one-off, the book is sure to be talked about for a good while yet!

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

18th Abduction (Women’s Murder Club #18), by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Eight stars

I always look forward to my annual exploration of the Women’s Murder Club, one of James Patterson’s strongest series alongside Maxine Paetro, who is a stellar collaborator. While many series lose their energy after so long, the eighteenth novel in this collection remains fresh and poignant, perfect for the series fan. After a preface in the present day, the story goes back five years, where Detective Lindsay Boxer finds herself in the middle of a baffling query. Three teachers from a prestigious preparatory school have gone missing while out together. There are few clues as to their whereabouts, which makes it all the most confusion. While Boxer is out handling this, her husband, Joe Molinari, comes across a woman on his way home. She tells a story of having seen a war criminal from her native Bosnia, a man who tortured her and her family years ago. Thought rumoured to have drowned, Slobodan Petrović May still be alive and has the glint in his eye made infamous when he held the moniker as the Butcher of Djoba. It perfectly describes the brutality to which he subjected his victims. Molinari is eager to help this woman, but must cut through her determination to take action on her own, while also working with his FBI contacts to bring Petrović to justice. Living under a pseudonym, Molinari will have to approach Petrović closely and ensure that this was not a case of mistaken identity. Meanwhile, Boxer begins to piece together some early clues and one of the victims turns up brutally murdered. Could there be a deeper connection to these three women, outside their teaching together? The rush is on to find the other two women before they are too long, though they are being mocked by the purported killer, Bloodsucker. In a case with more brutality than any Boxer has seen since she joined SFPD, this may be one killer whose determination to eviscerate their victims has deeply psychological ties. A wonderfully dark thriller that takes series readers on a journey with which they are familiar. This deep into the series, I would strongly suggest readers start at the beginning, allowing them to discover some of the character developments and nuances.

James Patterson can be hit and miss for many readers, churning out books faster than many can list them and leaving his name to sell copies. This inconsistency with the quality of writing has soured many and thereby left books like this shunned, forcing new fans not to see that there are still great JP books. Teaming up with Maxine Paetro, Patterson develops this wonderful story that builds on many of the past novels in the series, while adding some new and international flavour. Lindsay Boxer has become a strong character within San Francisco’s Homicide community, working diligently to solve any crime tossed her way. While there is little backstory left to reveal, the reader is always able to see small bouts of development within her work and personal relationships. Her marriage to Joe Molinari has long been a hot/cold situation worthy of exportation, though this book, which flashes back, dodges some of the bumpier parts of their relationship. While the other three ‘Club’ members receive their due mention, there is little the Club does to solve crimes as a unit, as has been the nature of the latter novels in the series. With Patterson’s great use of short and teaser chapters, the reader is pulled into the middle of this thriller in short order and left to explore all aspects of this multi-pronged story. Series fans will likely enjoy this book, as will those who are always looking for strong writing by Patterson and his collaborators. Definitely a series worth exploring for those who have time and are not being drowned by a TO BE READ pile.

Kudos, Mr. Patterson and Madame Paetro, as you continue this well-established series.

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

The Chef (Caleb Rooney #1), by James Patterson and Max DiLallo

Eight stars

Expanding on their successful BookShot in the same series, James Patterson and Max DiLallo return to New Orleans and the delicious antics of Caleb Rooney. When he is not operating his high-end food truck alongside his ex-wife, Caleb Rooney is working hard for the NOPD. At least he was until he was stripped of his badge after an excessive force complaint. Focussing all his time on the food business, Caleb is still forced to keep a lookout for those who may hold a grudge. When he learns that the FBI’s in town, following up on chatter about a potential terrorist attack, Caleb is sought out by his former chief to work off the radar to help protect the city. The plan appears to be tied to an attack at Mardi Gras, when the city comes to life and the casualty count can be highest. As he begins to investigate, Caleb finds some interesting threads the Feds have overlooked. He’s also been targeted a few times by attacks, in hopes of tossing him off the trail. Undeterred, Caleb works to help foil the plan, but finds that every suspect leads to a dead end. During the investigation, Caleb’s attention is caught by a local competitor’s wife. He knows the dangers, but Caleb find himself unable to resist, which only adds a larger target to his own back. It is only when the Feds discover what has been going on that the trouble really begins, forcing Caleb to choose between his civilian limits and protecting the city he loves. In a powerhouse novel that is just as good as its prequel BookShot, Patterson and DiLallo prove that they are a wonderful team. Recommended to those who enjoy thrillers with a delectable twist—and not of lemon—this is a story not to be dismissed.

I took a gamble on this latest Patterson novel, hoping that it would follow in the footsteps of its prequel. Not only was the writing of a high caliber, but I could not get enough of all the delicious dishes whose mention pepper the narrative. Caleb Rooney is as sharp as the knives used to make his various creations. Able to think on his feet and concoct dishes and plans of attack on his feet, the reader will soon discover that he is a complex and relatable character in equal measure. Like many civilian protagonists in this genre, it is curiosity and gumption that fuels his personal fire and keeps him from letting go, even in the face of adversity. Surrounded by interesting supporting characters, the story develops at a quick pace but never loses its momentum. With great discussion of the setting (New Orleans at Mardi Gras) and great sounding dishes, the story has many points of interest to keep the reader interested. With a mix of short and longer chapters, the story pulls the reader in and offers much throughout its development. I can only hope that Patterson and DiLallo take note of the wonderful writing they have done and help create a series out of this, which may help the former author churn out better novels, rather than the sausage factory of unknown quality that sells simply because of the JP emblazoned across the cover.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and DiLallo, for this great piece of work. I can only hope you see a winner, which is sure to garner the literary equivalent to mass publication Michelin stars.

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

The House Next Door: A BookShot Collection, by James Patterson, Susan DiLallo, Max DiLallo, and Tom Arnold

Eight stars

I have long enjoyed the venture James Patterson undertook, writing short stories with collaborators and calling them BookShots. While some are released as individual publications, Patterson will, at times, combine a few together, as he has done here. Working with Susan DiLallo, Max DiLallo, and Tom Arnold, Patterson has created three pieces that will force the reader to think as they discover the wonders of short pieces and how they can be just as effective as full-length novels. From a mysterious next-door neighbour to the distraught wife of a serial killer, and even communication with life outside of Earth’s atmosphere, Patterson and his collaborators provide much needed entertainment in this busy world of reading.

The House Next Door (with Susan DiLallo)

Laura Sherman lives a less than exciting life, though she has agreed to at least some of the sacrifices it takes to run a household. Her mundane housewife life is interrupted when a man and his son move into the house next door. Vince reaches out by asking that Laura help by driving young Vinny to his soccer practices on a weekly basis. From there, the connection between Laura and Vince grows at an alarming rate. Laura cannot believe that Vince is the man she has long wished her husband, Ned, could be. However, there is something off about Vince and Laura cannot seem to put a finger on it. When things begin going horribly wrong, Laura begins to wonder if she could be the root of all the problems.

The Killer’s Wife (with Max DiLallo)

Detective Andrew McGrath works in the small community of San Luis Obispo, normally quite the bucolic town. However, the disappearance of four teenage girls has rocked the community and left everyone feeling panicked. There is a suspect, local high school vice-principal Michael Pierson, though McGrath cannot act without some concrete evidence. When McGrath and his partner find Pierson luring another teenage girl into his car and catch him as the girl’s drugged body is being dumped, they are sure this is the break they need. Working some background, McGrath connects with Pierson’s wife, Ellen. She is adamant that her husband must be innocent, though McGrath is working the angle, hoping to uncover irrefutable evidence that will ensure this serial killer is put away. McGrath and Ellen soon develop a protective relationship, as she shields her from the press. It is only then that things take a turn and McGrath is able to understand a little more about what is going on, and how they will solve this case.

We. Are. Not. Alone. (with Tom Arnold)

Dr. Robert Barnett may be a washed-up astrophysicist, but he thinks that he’s stumbled onto something. Using some of his own personal technology, Barnett feels that he has recorded communications from out in space, thus proving not only that there is life amongst the stars, but that these beings wish to communicate with Earth. Little does he know, but Barnett may have stumbled upon something with National Security ramifications and he’s now being sought for questioning. Dodging officials at every turn, Barnett must ensure these recorded communications are made public, while government officials seek to detain him and obtain the recordings for themselves, citing a larger security situation. Meanwhile, someone is on a mission of their own, which could drastically change the dynamics of things in the blink of an eye.

As with many of Patterson’s short stories, they can be strong in their delivery or fall miserably flat. The collaborators in this case have helped buoy the stories and created strong pieces that will pull the readers in from the beginning. Both DiLallo pieces pose prologues that offer ‘flash forward’ reveals, though it is how the story arrives there that makes all the differences. Arnold’s piece fell flat for me, which can happen sometimes, even when riding a reading high. Call it a disinterest in space stories or the general lack of thrills, but I was left speeding my way through it, promising myself that I would read and review the collection. With characters who develop across the quick-paced narratives, these stories leave little time for character development, though there is a strong theme of connection between those who grace the pages. Patterson’s overarching theme in this collection would have to be deception, something that finds its way through each of the pieces and leaves the reader wondering what waits around each corner. Wonderfully crafted and delivered, James Patterson has chosen well with this stellar collection of three BookShots. One can hope there are more to come of this caliber.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson, DiLallo, and Arnold, as well as Madam DiLallo. What a great collection of stories to keep the reader occupied for a short time.

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

The First Lady, by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois

Eight stars

James Patterson and Brendan DuBois renew their collaborative efforts with a new book full of thrills and political intrigue. As US President Harrison Tucker makes his final push for re-election, he finds himself in an awkward position. Caught leaving an Atlanta hotel with his mistress, Tucker scrambles to save his reputation, but is unable to keep media reports from reaching First Lady Grace Tucker. Understandably upset, the First Lady excuses herself and leaves the White House. While the news is troubling, it’s just another hurdle that Secret Service Agent Sally Grissom has to face. Heading up the Presidential Protective Detail, Grissom will have to keep POTUS safe as he tries to patch his reputation. She’s tossed a curveball soon thereafter, when a senior member of the First Lady’s detail calls to say that she’s gone off the grid, having slipped past those charged with protecting her. Grissom rushes to the scene of where she was last seen, hoping that this is just the First Lady trying to exert some freedom. However, things take a turn for the worse when a note appears in the First Lady’s handwriting. Has her disappearance been orchestrated and is she being held against her will? Meanwhile the president’s Chief of Staff is making calculated moves of his own to ensure the disappearance news does not derail an already fragile situation. He cannot have anything go against his plans or it could spell electoral disaster. With a mercenary slinking around in the background, Grissom’s actions begin to have dire consequences and new evidence push the Secret Service to the brink as they seek to do what’s needed before media outlets use the disappearance as new fodder for the next news cycle. Patterson and DuBois do a great job with this standalone novel, which keeps the reader’s attention until the story’s climactic ending. Recommended for those who can appreciate Patterson’s stronger collaborative efforts.

James Patterson collaborations can be hit and miss, which is additionally troublesome as the market is supersaturated with the author’s name on bookstands at any given moment. However, Brendan DuBois can usually be counted upon to help shape novels in a productive manner and keep Patterson on task. This novel mixes the fast pace of political thrills with the mystery of a missing central actor. Sally Grissom proves to be a decent protagonist, mixing her grit on the job with having to balance being a single mother at home. Still in the midst of marital disintegration, Grissom must try to keep her daughter’s respect while not letting her personal life distract her from the job at hand. As this is a standalone, the authors must ‘sell’ Grissom in short order so that the reader does not lose interest in her, which appears to be done effectively throughout. Many of the secondary characters prove useful storylines to keep the novel moving forward. From the search for the First Lady to those who want Grissom and her team away from the action, the authors can easily use a number of characters to add flavour to a rich narrative. The story is strong and well-paced, with Patterson’s trademark quick chapters that keep the plot from losing momentum. Patterson and DuBois have a great way of mixing first- and third-person narratives to show an entire story from all perspectives. While I do bemoan the excessive number of books Patterson churns out, this is one with a silver lining that I feel would be perfect for those who need a few hours to escape their busy lives.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and DuBois, for a successful novel. I am happy I took the time to enjoy this piece and look forward to another collaborative effort.

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

Target: Alex Cross (Alex Cross #26), by James Patterson

Seven stars

In the craziness that is James Patterson’s massive collection of collaborative efforts, it is hard to find something that truly has the ‘Patterson flavour’ any longer. While he has shuffled many of his series and one-off novels to others, the Alex Cross novels remain solely his, allowing fans to see where he has taken his longest-serving protagonist over two decades. In this novel, Alex Cross and the rest of the country are stunned by the death of the President of the United States, an event that resonates, no matter one’s political leanings. As the country seeks to brush itself off, Washington is stunned by a new set of murders, including one of a sitting US senator. Alex is pulled in to work the case by the FBI, which forces him to keep his wife, Chief of Detectives Bree Stone, away from the action. As they work, the case seems somewhat open and shut, with a suspect all but pointing to where they committed the crime. Then, things take a definite turn. Multiple murders of several high-ranking officials lead Cross and the FBI to feel that there might be an international threat to the United States. It’s no longer a criminal they seek, but a country ready to do whatever it takes to weaken America. With nuclear weapons on hand, this could quickly escalate into a war from which no one will walk away unscathed. Patterson does well to amp up the action as Alex Cross continues to entertain, in his twenty-sixth novel. Recommended to series fans and those who want to ride the wave of international meddling in American affairs.

It is becoming harder for me to find myself hooked on James Patterson series of late. While I have come to really enjoy some of his long-running collections, they begin to get a little stale or outlive their run. Alex Cross has always been a stalwart for me, something on which I can rely. While the characters age, Alex never lets that dilute his work on crimes or his passion for family. Still, one must begin to wonder if there is a time and place to let him hang up the cuffs and enjoy those around him. I began to feel that way about this book, as things have become somewhat stagnant. The crime is surely out of this world—well, country—but I was left wondering if things simply have run out for Alex Cross and if he needs to let someone else take over. Cross is a remarkable man and his character is second to none, though I think it is not him that is so bothersome, but some of the corny interactions he has with patients and his own family that has me soured. Great kids, lovely wife, and a funny grandmother, but it’s just a little too hokey in the dialogue. I’d never want Patterson to wipe them out, for that his the Cross foundation and all that keeps him sane. Still, they tend to grate on my nerves, which spills over to creating an animosity for me as I read. The premise of the story is great and could really have worked well. I think it needed some more grit, something deeper and more intense. There are some wonderful political and criminal elements in the story that I would love to see in a series (or one-off) that can dedicate time to this sort of political thriller, but Patterson’s use of short chapters and hokey family sub-plots were not for me. An easy read and I will always keep Patterson around for that, but could it be that Alex Cross novels are falling victim to James Patterson Syndrome? Might they be selling for the name on the cover and not the quality of the writing? We can at least applaud him for a wonderful cliffhanger ending!

Kudos, Mr. Patterson, for keeping Alex Cross going. I know I can be tough, but I think it’s fair game when you are so established and basking in fortune

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

Ambush (Michael Bennett #11), by James Patterson and James O. Born

Seven stars

Michael Bennett is back, further developed by James Patterson and collaborator James O. Born. In this eleventh novel in the series, Bennett finds himself paired up with a partner, given the task to show him the ropes. When a tip comes in and they are headed out onto the streets of New York, Bennett cannot know what awaits them. As they arrive, a hail of gunfire erupts and Bennett is left injured while his partner dies in a pool of blood. This was some form of ambush, an attack meant to scrub Bennett out of the NYPD equation. Lurking in the shadows is an Columbian national who has been sent to exterminate Bennett as part of a contract to allow the Mexican cartel ready access to the streets of the Big Apple. While Bennett recuperates, he learns that his son, serving time in update New York, has been attacked. Could it be tied to the attempted offing at the ambush? If that were not enough, Bennett’s eldest daughter, Julianna, has been chosen to act in a local television production and has been flexing her independence at every turn. Will a killer on the loose, leaving bodies of rival cartel members strewn around New York, Bennett has little time to wait, especially once he discovers there are crosshairs focussed on him. A man of a million roles, Michael Bennett as little time for capes and phone booths, but he must be a superhero not only to the city he loves, but the family he cannot live without. Patterson and Born offer up a decent continuation to the Bennett series, which has been moving along effectively. Series fans may enjoy this one, though there are also signs that Bennett might want to turn to life with the family and hang up those cuffs!

I have a long history with many of the cop series that James Patterson has crafted over the years. I find that those with a collaborator seem to get a little tepid as they progress, particularly when plots repeat themselves. Bennett was once a sharp cop who sought to juggle life in Homicide with his massive brood of adopted children. It worked well, when backstory and development allowed for adequate action and kept the reader enthralled. It would seem to be that things have remained in neutral, with new killers and more ways to wreak havoc on NYC, but little movement in the protagonist. Sure, as his children grow their life lessons blossom into interesting sub-plots, but they do not have enough momentum to keep the series propelling along for me. Born was brought in recently, perhaps to inject some pizzazz into the series, though it might have been past its best before date already. The handful of characters that have followed the series seem to have grown slightly, but it is time to either make significant changes to them or let the series fade into the sunset. The story is ok, though, as I mentioned above, has not got the spark needed to push it to the top of any list—save perhaps lists that utilise the ‘Patterson’ name for automatic notoriety. Bennett mixes his time between chasing down killers and trying to keep a handle on his family. The series is at a crossroads—or, perhaps it has already left that spot—and needs some revamping and more energetic developments. I leave it to Patterson and Born to see if they want to keep it exciting or let it wither and cause animosity amongst those who have dedicated time and effort into supporting it for this long.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Born, for working your best to make something out of a series that may be turning beige. Perhaps a BookShot or two to tie things off? I suspect your collaborative efforts in the future could make for brilliant work, away from Michael Bennett.

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

Juror #3, By James Patterson and Nancy Allen

Eight stars

James Patterson collaborates with Nancy Allen to bring readers an exciting legal piece that will keep the questions coming until the final pages. Ruby Bozarth is a recent grad of Ole Miss Law School and has a desire to save the world. Hanging her shingle in a small town, she is used to defending misdemeanours and the like, most of which are simple cases. However, when a judge earmarks her to become the attorney of a local murder suspect, Ruby discovers that the law can be quite the beast. Darrien Summers is a waiter at the local country club and is summoned to a back room by text. When he arrives, he discovers the dead body of the woman he has secretly been seeing. What makes this scandalous in Mississippi is not that she is married, but that Summers is black and the victim is white. Cutting her teeth on all that is a murder defence, Ruby ends up working alongside the aunt of her former fiancé, a man she still cannot stomach having loved. While picking a jury, Ruby comes across a potential juror who seems to be acting very oddly. However, he makes it onto the panel and soon is captivated by the evidence in the Darrien Summers trial. Working her magic, Ruby inserts some doubt and hopes that she can win. However, something odd happens in the middle of the trial, involving that same Juror #3, which turns the case on its head. While Ruby tries to come to terms with the outcome, her aforementioned former flame finds himself in his own legal hot water and Ruby is thrust into her second major case in a year. Will she find a passion for the work of a criminal defence attorney or is this just one hell of a ride? Recommended for those who enjoy some of Patterson’s better collaborations and need a quick read to pass the time.

I quite enjoyed this one-off by Patterson and Allen, which worked well and seemed to get better with each passing chapter. Ruby Bozarth is that young lawyer who is as wet behind the ears as they come. However, her gumption and determination to do what is right seems to open a path towards a successful legal strategy. She trips and stumbles, but is always looking to better herself, rather than be the pompous woman that feels she can do no wrong. With a little backstory and much development throughout, the reader will likely grow to admire this Mississippi girl and all her quirks. The secondary characters work well, no matter their role in the piece, to pave the way towards an entertaining legal thriller that has a few twists few would expect. While not entirely traditional Patterson—super short chapters with a cliffhanger at each page turn—the story works well and the reader can remain engaged. Allen is to be applauded for keeping the story from turning into anything tepid, as I have found Patterson collaborations usually hinge on the second author to make or break the piece. What I did find interesting, though I debated keeping it out and allowing others to decide for themselves, is that this book almost acts as two BookShots in one—that clever Patterson project of short story writing—as the first case is completely divorced from the second, with that mystery juror firmly rooted in the early case. I waited and pondered why these two stories were pressed together, though I suppose others can chime in and offer their insights, after they have read the piece.

Kudos, Mr. Patterson and Madam Allen, for an entertaining read. I hope you will work together 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

Revenge, by James Patterson and Andrew Holmes

Eight stars

In a standalone thriller, James Patterson collaborates with Andrew Holmes to create a high-impact story that does not rest until the final sentence. David Shelley is ex-SAS with a penchant for always finishing what he starts. Years ago, he was working as personal security for a rich family when they were set upon by kidnappers. While the attempt was foiled, Shelley could not fathom how close they came and left the position in a cloud of shame. Fourteen years on, he fields a call that his former child protectee, Emma Drake, has committed suicide. Worse still, her life took a turn and she found heroin and starred in online pornography. While high and preparing for a ‘peep show’, she pulled out a gun and offed herself live. Now, her father, Guy Drake, wants to hunt down those who led his daughter down such a path and has asked Shelley to assist. While it looks to be a simple retribution strike, Shelley soon learns that there is more than meets the eye. The group behind Emma’s demise is not your typical rag-tag set of men trying to make a quid on vulnerable women, though there is no stopping Guy from getting his pound of flesh. In a story that goes from sorrow to cutthroat revenge, Shelley finds himself in the middle and must protect himself to stay one step ahead, as the bodies pile up! Patterson and Holmes have crafted a wonderful piece that will keep the reader wanting more and staying up to finish the piece in a single sitting. Recommended for those who like a well-plotted thriller that has all the elements of bloody revenge.

It’s always a hit and miss where Patterson’s name appears on the cover. Many will know my ‘Patterson Syndrome’ rant, and if you don’t, ask me personally. This book seems to break that tradition, as it utilises a one-off situation to craft a wonderful collection of characters, all of whom do well to fit themselves into place and develop a strong thriller. David Shelley proves to be a wonderful protagonist, with a rich backstory and connection to the victim, without being bogged down in excessive amounts of sympathy. He knows what has to be done and completes the task, injecting some conscience into the matter at hand to protect the larger group. His rough and tumble nature connects him to the reader, as does his sensible ways and ability to see the larger picture. The handful of other important characters serve as cogs in the wheel to push the story to new heights, keeping the action high and the twists coming. The banter, both in dialogue and flying bullets, allows the reader to find something they can take away from the piece, keeping them entertained throughout. The story is well developed and does not lose its momentum. A tale of revenge and the blinders a rich man puts on, not seeing the results of his actions, while dropping into a den of vipers. Patterson and Holmes keep the story moving, aided with the traditional shorter chapters that propel the narrative forward. While I cannot see this being anything but a single piece, there are crumbs left for the reader to wonder if David Shelley is set to make his return. Perhaps a BookShot would do well, as we have already seen Shelley in that capacity.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Holmes, for a great story. I enjoy your collaborative efforts and hope they will continue.

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