Kill and Tell, by James Patterson and Scott Slaven

Eight stars

In a BookShot that has a ‘pulled from the headlines’ feel, James Patterson and Scott Slaven offer the reader something with twists throughout. While on his way back from Australia, first-rate movie director Wayne Tennet learns that his step-daughter has just gone public, accusing him of molesting her. Panic setting in, Tennet calls for his PR firm to begin the spin as they get to the bottom of this disaster. There’s no way that he could have done this and Tennet is suspects he knows who is orchestrating this, seeking to bring him down for some unknown reason. While Tennet tries to hide himself away, his PR agent handles the narrative from hereon in, which includes feeding the media just enough without admitting to anything. When a young reporter makes her break covering this story, things begin to heat-up, before Tennet appears to cave to the pressure of everything that’s been going on. With numerous players involved in this circus, everyone is providing their own version of events. Is Wayne Tennet a child molester or has he been used to help elongate the news cycle on this flamboyant story? It’s not until the final twist that the reader will learn the truth, though there’s no way anyone saw it coming. Patterson and Slaven redeem themselves after a somewhat less than stunning previous piece that I read. BookShot fans and those who enjoy something that speaks to the current Hollywood blame game situation will surely enjoy this piece.

Patterson and Slaven work well together and have some interesting ideas to keep their BookShot collaborations moving smoothly. While many men have had their careers crippled by recent allegations, it is interesting to get behind the scenes and see how these two writers depict the process. Wayne Tennet seems to be less than central character, but his actions cannot be removed from the limelight, making the careers of others at his own expense. It is the story that leaves an indelible mark, impossible to take back after its come out, that propels the secondary characters to race around and do their thing. The story explores all aspects to the allegation and how, honestly, new stars are born as soon as accusations hit the news cycle. Whether they are true seems secondary and retracting them, well, the stain cannot be removed. Patterson and Slaven provide an interesting story here, which is worth sticking with, even though it gets slow and somewhat dramatic. In the end, it’s the message that resonates with the reader, leaving them to judge innocence once and for all!

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Slaven, for a great story that plays with the mind and forces the reader to filter through what is being spoon-fed on a regular basis. I look forward to seeing what else you two have in store for readers in the coming months.

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

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Steeplechase, by James Patterson and Scott Slaven

Seven stars

Returning for another collaboration, James Patterson and Scott Slaven have created this historical BookShot that will keep the reader guessing as time switches between two distinct periods. Steeplechase Park draws large crowds to Coney Island, even as far back as 1907. With the most exciting and innovative rides, crowds rush to enjoy their time and take in the atmosphere. Katie Silver has helped design much of the layout, unheard of at that time, though her reputation precedes her. Flashing forward to 2017, Silver wakes from what must be a very strange dream, as she can vividly remember herself on the grounds of Steeplechase one hundred and ten years before. As Head of Security, Silver has a lot of responsibility to keep the crowds under control and the patrons safe. However, a series of ‘accidents’ over the past few weeks has Silver wondering if she will soon have a job. As the story alternates between both times, Silver finds herself in the middle of a plot to take control of Steeplechase Park and wrestle it away from its current owners. Gangsters and low-lifes have plans that not even Silver can stop. Confused about these dreams and their meanings, Katie Silver must stop something from happening in the past so that it does not ruin things for her 2017 self. Patterson and Slaven have their work cut out for them in this piece, as they try to sell the reader on this piece of historical fiction. Some will surely enjoy it for its mysterious meandering, but I could not get a firm grasp of the story or characters depicting it.

Patterson and Slaven have taken things in an interesting direction with this piece. While I may not be the story’s largest fan, that is not to say that it was horrible by any sense of the word. I enjoy stories that transcend a single time period, but I felt I may have missed some nuances that could have helped strengthen this piece for me. Katie Silver was certain the glue that held this story together, though my missing something surely kept me from being able to enjoy either incarnation of her or the larger place she played in the story. Her dual roles surely provide both a beacon and foreshadowing for what is to come. Complemented throughout by two sets of secondary characters, Patterson and Slaven have helped to create a distinct narrative that tells of this amusement park and some of the tragic happenings that befall it over a century apart. The story seems decent and the delivery is strong, but I feel as though I missed something in receiving it, though it is entirely possible that I simply did not pay close enough attention. I have another BookShot with this duo to read and can only hope that we’re all on the same page with that one, before I pass judgement too harshly.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Slaven, for an interesting premise. I hope you find many fans who adore this, as it has potential.

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

Dead Man Running, by James Patterson and Christopher Farnsworth

Eight stars

In this political thriller, James Patterson and Christopher Farnsworth team up to create a high-impact BookShot story to entertain the reader for a few hours. Dr. Randall Beck enjoys his work as a psychiatrist, helping some of the most stressed out people who are keen to save the world. When a new client enters his office, Beck senses that there is something especially troubling going on. As the client departs, he is gunned down on the sidewalk, uttering a single word to Beck before he expires. Beck, uncertain what he ought to do, is soon approached by the Secret Service, though will not reveal anything passed along during patient-doctor exchanges. Beck finds himself placed under arrest for reasons that remain unclear to him, though he gets the feeling there is something he’s not being told. After he is able to escape, he tells his story to a friend and colleague, before trying to communicate with his client’s wife. Things become a massive game of cat and mouse, before Beck is accused of trying to kill the president at an upcoming debate. Now on the run for his life and unsure who he can trust, Beck must hope that the terminal tumour in his brain kills him before a bullet to the back of the head. Explosive in its delivery and quick-paced to keep the reader hooked from the early going, BookShot fans and thriller junkies alike will love this piece.

These are the types of stories I feel BookShots were made to depict. There is so much going on that only the rapid succession of short chapters and cliffhanger moments can truly give the story the justice it deserves. Patterson and Farnsworth pack so much into a short piece that the reader has no time to breathe or even blink. Randall Beck is an interesting character, plucked from his day job and placed in the centre of an assassination plot that has parts of the Secret Service turning on one another. The pace permits the reader to learn nothing of Beck’s backstory, but a little development as he faces death on a few occasions. The secondary characters keep the story moving and pave the way for the explosive finish that is to pass by the final few chapters. The story, by no means unique, is told in a wonderful way to keep things moving and leaving little to the imagination. The reader will love the quick turns, though the bodies pile up as the plot takes unexpected turns. Still, I can only hope there are more BookShots out there that tell of something equally as exciting.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Farsworth, for such a wonderful piece. It buoys my spirits and has me hoping you’ll come back soon to work on another project.

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

You’ve Been Warned—Again, by James Patterson and Derek Nikitas

Seven stars

Back to try another Patterson-Nikitas collaboration, which pushes the BookShot into the realm of the paranormal. That being said, this one was at least palatable. Joanie Whitmore is dreading this Thanksgiving gathering in rural Rhode Island. Her family is quite pretentious and judgemental, just what she wants for her new fiancé, Nate. As they arrive in a storm, Joanie’s fears are soon substantiated, with a cold-shoulder greeting by her father and an equally stiff mother. As the storm gets worse, Joanie and Nate are unsure if now is the time to make their announcement, but with the wedding only a month away, they have little other time, if at all. When a knock comes at the door, a stranger appears, wondering if he might be able to use the phone, as his car’s broken down. Reluctantly, the Whitmores invite him in, only to discover that the phone lines are down, which is soon followed by all the power in the house. As Joanie begins to scour the house, she discovers that its history is anything but uplifting, having been where an entire family met their fate in a murder-suicide. Soon, members of the house begin to follow that same path adding a creepier element. This will surely be one Thanksgiving Joanie Whitmore will never forget, though it may also be one she never survives. Patterson and Nikitas fare well with this piece, though some of the paranormal aspects seem more subdued than one would expect in a short story. A well-crafted piece for those who like the genre and open-minded fans of the BookShot collection.

I admit that my previous attempt with this collaborative team proved to be a disaster of epic proportions. Perhaps it was that the story rang truer as a psychological thriller than completely paranormal, but it might also have something to do with the fact that I was less on edge while reading. Joanie Whitmore’s character serves the story well, pushing it in many directions as her emotions seem to shape the way the narrative turns. There are times of high drama and others of absolute fear, which are usually seen effectively through the filters Joanie presents the reader. While a short piece, the secondary characters and the interactions they have with our protagonist prove key to pushing the narrative away from a simple A to B scenario. From loving fiancé to standoffish father to this mysterious stranger who appears at the door, all of these types of characters pepper the narrative in interesting fashion. The story was fairly strong and the reader can lose themselves in the slow development of the plot, but there comes a time when things take a turn away from the normal and into a realm of pure oddity. Still not my favourite genre of BookShot, but it’s growing on me.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Nikitas, for this better effort. I can see some stronger potential with this and hope you’ll keep working together to hone your skills as a team.

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

Avalanche, by James Patterson and David Inglish

Eight stars

Espionage is always something that BookShots help make even more intense, with the quick changes in the narrative and only a short time to develop the plot. James Patterson works with David Inglish (a relatively new face, to my knowledge, in the BookShot family) on this piece of espionage that occurs in the mountainous region of Switzerland. Dr. Robert Monroe and his wife are on their way to Gstaad to deliver a series of lectures on art. Monroe is well-known for his pre-war painting knowledge and has a reputation for being quite personable. After coming into contact with a mysterious American on his travels, Monroe arrives for the conference at a glamourous hotel, only to be surrounded with others who seem to have an unusual interest in him and his specialised skills. When Mrs. Monroe goes missing, Robert learns that the man they met the night before may have slipped him a USB filled with highly-controversial computer code, pushing him into the middle of an international incident, with his own wife a collateral. Now, many groups have placed a target on Monroe’s back, determined to retrieve the USB and use it for their own nefarious activities. With his focus on trying to find his wife, Monroe learns of a sadistic killer by the name of Pumpkin, who has his wife, but is willing to barter her life for the USB. Thus begins a series of events that pit Monroe against everyone, and all for a bit of code. How could a lowly art history professor become so entangled in this mess? Patterson and Inglish have a wonderfully entertaining story on their hands here, perfect for a snowy day or to pass the time over a few cups of tea. Recommended to all those who enjoy BookShots that delve into the darker world of spies and double-crossing.

Another successful story that kept me hooked until the very last page. Patterson and Inglish seem to have found their niche, developing this story in short order and not letting go. As they layered more within the narrative, the reader can only wonder what will happen and how the ever-increasing cast of characters will play off one another. Robert Monroe is, as the review above suggests, a mere art history professor, but finds himself pulled in the middle of a battle between numerous agencies. He loves his wife, but can surely sense that there is something going on between them. Some of the more sinister characters who grace the pages show a heartless desire to destroy all for their own betterment, no matter the means. While not entirely able to foster a strong connection with the reader, their antics do counterbalance Monroe’s goodness. The story is decent and keeps moving, which is essential in the BookShot formula, permitting the reader to remain in constant movement as they try to decipher what awaits in the coming chapters. A successful premise that is effectively executed against the backdrop of the Swiss Alps.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Inglish, as you have kept your readers entertained. I am eager to see what else you two have in store for readers in the coming months.

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

The Shut-In, by James Patterson and Duane Swierczynski

Eight stars

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

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

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

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

Scott Free, by James Patterson and Rob Hart

Eight stars

Just when you think you’ve explored all the interesting angles that BookShots can take, a new collaboration pops up and something exciting coms of it. James Patterson and Rob Hart have developed something intriguing and entertaining here in this aptly-named short story. The story opens on the day Thomas Scott is released from prison after a judge rules his constitutional rights have been violated. After Scott became the prime suspect in the kidnapping and killing of three small children from a daycare at which he works part-time, an overzealous NYPD Detective is found to have illegally entered his apartment to plant evidence. With media broadcasting the news and continuing to lynch him, Scott wants out of the limelight at away from this city. The parents of the three victims are outraged and feel that the loophole has allowed a killer to go free. The detective, while on paid leave, is equally convinced that the constitutional violation was nothing more than a way to cover the truth; that Thomas Scott is a hardened murderer. Prepared for some vigilante justice, these parents want Scott dead once and for all, but they will have to catch him first. Sometimes the truth cannot set you free, if society has already drawn-up the verdict. Patterson and Hart have this masterful piece ready to impress the reader at every page flip. BookShot fans and those who like a little legal drama in their reading will surely appreciate this piece.

It is refreshing to find new pathways of enjoyment with these short stories. Patterson has a vast array of talent helping to create these stories and there’s nothing like a strong collection of writers to entertain dedicated readers. While Thomas Scott may be the central character here, the story switches constantly, allowing a handful of central characters to share the spotlight. The backstory is minimal and the development is mainly focussed on the chase for justice, but there is a better sense of these characters as the story progresses, from their angst to anger and all those points in between. There is certainly a lingering question around which character might know more than they are letting on, though it is up to the reader to forge ahead and piece the mystery together. The story is an interesting concept that grows with each passing chapter. I can say that I loved the varied points of view and the captivating slow reveal as vigilante justice takes hold and common sense melts away. This game of gangland justice shows the reader that truth can sometimes take a backseat, especially when media outlets help fan the flames and take no prisoners (alive!).

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Hart, for this piece. I will certainly revisit your work soon, given the chance. This may be one of the top five BookShots I have tackled in the last year or so!

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

Deadly Cargo, by James Patterson and Will Jordan

Eight stars

Adventure comes in many forms, which is one of the underlying premises of the BookShot collection. There is no ‘cookie cutter’ means of writing one of these short pieces, but it seems important that the action be quick and the adventure climb to warp-speed. When James Patterson teamed up with Will Jordan, they had these two ingredients in mind for a fast-paced tale on the high seas. When a distress call reaches the Casco Cove Coast Guard Station in Alaska, Lieutenant Rick O’Neill and his crew prepare to respond. As they locate the M.V. Ossora in the Bering Sea, O’Neill is slightly baffled. The Ossora, which has seen better days and was likely battling breakers during the Cold War, appears abandoned, her crew nowhere to be found. Still, the US Coast Guard is bound to answer all calls and try to help. It is only when O’Neill leads his crew aboard that things take a definite turn for the worse. This may be a trap, one that the original crew could not have known existed. Now, O’Neill is forced to turn heroic as he discovers the plan these hijackers are trying to enact, hoping that he’s not led the Casco Cove arm of the Coast Guard to their slaughter. With nothing left inside him, O’Neill must muster all his strength to bring his crew home, or die trying. Patterson and Jordan know how to keep the reader enthralled and leave nothing out in this 21st century Cold War showdown. Perfect for BookShot fans who need a little adventure to chill them to the core.

For those who have been following my BookShot month, you’ll know that these are never guaranteed successes. However, everyone once in a while I find myself in the middle of a story that has my attention and will not give up. I am happy to admit that this was one such piece. Rick O’Neill is that perfect struggling protagonist, washed-up and wanting out, only to find his skills needed one final time. Trouble is, with a man this stubborn, he does not know when ‘self’ should come before ‘country’, which leaves the crew in a precarious position. The banter between the Coast Guard and these select hijackers provides the reader with some interesting secondary characters, as well as some essential intensity in the narrative. The story is nothing unique or off the wall, but its delivery is nothing short of stellar, as it paces the release of information against a varied length of chapters. The reader will find themselves in the middle and not wanting to let go, or or relax until the final page has been turned. This is a refreshing read for me, after a few duds left me wondering how I would stomach thirty-one days of this. Thankfully, Will Jordan’s here to keep Patterson on a steady course and I look forward to another collaborative effort.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Jordan, for keeping a battle on the high seas from getting too melodramatic. I am eager to see what else I can find in the BookShot grove to whet my appetite.

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

Diary of a Succubus, by James Patterson and Derek Nikitas

Four stars

Not all BookShots are created equal. Surely, with a huge cast of collaborative authors, James Patterson’s name will be attributed to numerous genres, which will appeal to different reader bases. While I steer clear of certain genres when perusing BookShots (namely, the ‘flames’ series of romances), on this binge month, I am trying to keep my options open and reading a great deal of Patterson’s collaborative efforts. Derek Nikitas crossed my path in this piece, which seems to have more of a supernatural/fantasy flavour to it. As the story opens, the reader learns that the female protagonist is trying to lure a rich and powerful man back to his home and into bed. However, it soon becomes obvious that both are trying to kill the other. After Mark Norman Harper falls to his death, the hunt is on to find the group who are out to kill this collective of succubi, the undead who have had their souls bartered to the other side. For the rest of this painfully confusing piece, Patterson and Nikitas try to hold the reader’s attention with a cat and mouse game between the succubi and the hunters that seek to banish them once and for all. I admit that I was lost early on and could not find myself as I flailed through the piece. Fantasy and supernatural BookShot lovers, unite. The rest of us will have to see if this pair did any better when they plotted the death of Stephen King in another piece of fiction.

Reading should never be painful, nor should be it a chore that pushes the reader into areas of discomfort. Libraries, bookstores, Goodreads, and the internet are all places where the curious reader can take a plunge into most anything they find to their liking and run with it. Not everything will appeal to every reader. I have to remind myself of that sometimes, particularly when my reviewing can cut a little deep to those who have thin skin. However, Nikitas and Patterson surely have a following and for those people, this piece was surely just what they needed. Odd characters with backstories over three hundred years in the making, with both modern and antiquated perspectives to build solid characters. The story, while a dud for me, surely would have met the interest of those who enjoy supernatural phenomena and spirit haunting. I do, but this was just too odd for me and I could not find any literary handholds to keep me from sliding into an abyss of confusion. I cannot hold my nose and score it high for those who loved it, for it is the honest balance of YAH and NAY that makes a review stronger.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Nikitas, for doing your best with this. I’ll try another of your joint pieces (perhaps the aforementioned King murder) before passing final judgement. This was not my thing and I cannot sugarcoat it, but I am sure some will love it. To them, a hearty, ENJOY!

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

Stealing Gulfstreams, by James Patterson and Max DiLallo

Eight stars

Some BookShots leave the reader flying high, while others turn what might be an enjoyable experience into a free fall. Teaming up with Max DiLallo, James Patterson takes to the skies with this quick-paced piece about a man and his passion to uphold a family bond through the joys of flight. After witnessing their father perish in a fiery crash, Jack and Cole Flynn vow to keep his name alive. The elder Flynn was an air racer, perhaps one of the most dangerous activities with two wings. Racing through tracks and obstacles, the pilots put it all on the line every time they enter the cockpit. While Jack would like to say he has been able to make his father proud, that elusive first victory has continued to slip through his fingers. Additionally, the cost of fine-tuning a racing plane is nothing short of highway robbery. So, while he is still visited by memories of his father in the form of nightmares, Jack must turn to the other side of the law and steal private jets to make the money he needs to compete. Approached by a powerful gangster who has the act of fleecing the Flynns down to an art, Jack and Cole agree to steal these planes right out of their hangars. When the FBI starts to poke around, Jack must do all he can to divert their attention, at least until he secures enough to compete and leave the life. Staring down the largest heist yet, Jack and Cole must weight their options before things take a nosedive. Is a father’s legacy worth their incarceration? Patterson and DiLallo do well with this piece, which keeps the story moving and the characters believable. BookShot fans will likely push through this in short order, as it has some enjoyable storylines.

It is nice to see a successful collaboration return and find more success. Patterson and DiLallo have worked together before, producing strong results and keeping fans of the BookShot realm pleased with the end result.The story presents Jack Flynn as an ambitious man who wants to finish a task that his father could not, making him proud all these years later. The reader receives a little of Flynn’s backstory, a witness to his father’s fiery crash, as well as the burning desire to compete himself in one of the most death-defying competitions out there. Forced to sell his pride to the highest bidder, Flynn shows his determination, fuelled by an inner passion that will not let up. Adding a handful of strong secondary characters, the story unfolds and permits the reader to discover the support team that Jack has, as well as the one man who could make or break it for him at any moment. The story keeps the reader hooked for most of the arc, slowing down only in places to offer a change of pace. While not as riveting as some of the other pieces I have read, I am impressed that the story kept things moving so well and allowed the reader to remain in the driver’s seat (holding the yoke?) for the journey.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and DiLallo, for another wonderful collaboration. My BookShot binge is going well and you’ve helped to end the first week on a high note!

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