Private Princess (Private #14), by James Patterson and Rees Jones

Seven stars

James Patterson has returned for another collaborative effort with Rees Jones to add to the ever-expanding Private series. This novel, like many of the others, takes readers around the world and into a high-stakes game of sleuthing and action, with an international twist. Jack Morgan, head of Private, the international investigation service, is back in London. This trip is anything but a chance to sightsee or make one of his random check-ins with the local offices, for he has been summoned by Princess Caroline, third in line for the British Throne. After being hurriedly whisked off to her residence, Morgan meets with the royal, who explains that a dear friend of hers has gone missing, a woman with a wild streak and great tabloid fodder. Never one to turn down a challenge, Morgan begins his investigation, sure there is more to the story than the princess is willing to tell. While doing so, Morgan engages with the head of Private: London, Peter Knight. It would seem Knight is on a case to explore an apparent suicide of a well-to-do gentleman whose daughter wants to keep scandal from the tabloids. When Knight and Morgan compare notes, they realise that there is more to each of their cases than meets the eye. Joining efforts, some semblance of closure can be found, but there remains an overarching mystery whose narrative remains a leaden weight for both men and their cases. Morgan’s trip across the Pond has also allowed him to attempt a revisiting of an old flame, though time has all but extinguished those possibilities. When an old foe from a past U.K. case resurfaces with deadly intentions, Morgan cannot simply leave. He is invested and soon has malice pulsing through his veins. Jack Morgan and the entire Private: London enterprise are on this new mission, refusing to back off until all is right again. Trouble is, Jack Morgan’s luck may have finally run its course. An interesting addition to the series, returning to a British locale. Jones and Patterson spin a decent tale, sure to be of interest to those seeking a beach or travel read, but also worthy of those who have followed Private through its long series run.

Having long been a fan of Patterson and followed this Private series over the years, I can say with some confidence, that this was a decent addition to the series. Patterson and Jones have returned to a familiar spot, using characters seen before, and extrapolating on some of the plots left to dangle during a previous novel and short story. Jack Morgan, the ever-present character that finds himself in all Private-based stories surely plays more of a central role here, offering the reader a further glimpse into his past and some of the grit that makes him a worthy addition to each series piece. More focus on the likes of Peter Knight and some of the other local Private folks is also refreshing for the series fan, as some will be able to pull on past skirmishes and character development. The story is by no means phenomenal, but it follows a decent Private layout, playing out with at least two cases running parallel and eventually merging. Morgan’s personal story here proves to be a third plot, though it, too, seems to have some ties to the early cases, something the attentive reader will notice. While I cannot say Private is one of Patterson’s premier series, it is one that can be enjoyed if read independently or as an entire collection. Rees Jones should be applauded for helping keep the story on task and relevant, as well as stronger than some of the past pieces in this series. I’ll surely keep my eyes peeled for more when they are released.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Jones, for a great effort. While I cannot admit to being mesmerised, I enjoy this lighter reading material.

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