Home Sweet Murder (True-Crime Thrillers, Volume #2), by James Patterson, Aaron Bourelle, and Scott Slaven

Eight stars

While James Patterson has made a name for himself with his BookShots collection—a series of short stories the reader can complete in a few hours—he is again expanding his horizons. Now that he has secured television rights to a murder-based true-crime show, Patterson has also spun some of the tales into shorter stories, much like his BookShots. While I have been on an intense BookShot binge, I thought that I would include at least the first two volume in my binge read, as they are short enough to be defined as BookShots, though they are best called ‘fictionalised pieces of true crime’. These stories will capture the reader’s attention, more so because they actually happened, with anonymity peppered into the narrative to protect the victims. Sit back and enjoy, as Patterson and his two collaborators in these stories show just how far some people will go to harm those closest to them.

Home Sweet Murder (with Andrew Bourelle)

Leo Fisher and his wife, Sue, are enjoying a quiet Sunday evening when someone rings the doorbell. Unsure who it might be, Leo makes his way to the door and discovers a man who claims to be an SEC agent, seeking urgent information about Leo’s law firm. Baffled, Leo tries to deflect the man’s inquiries, but is soon assaulted. The as-yet unknown man holds Leo and Sue hostage, seeking information about the firm and any improprieties that might be associated with their business. Leo remains baffled, but this only fuels the intruder, who soon learns that he will have to take significant action to remedy the perceived lack of information sharing. In minor flashbacks, the reader learns that Leo may know something he’s not yet shared, even with Sue, but could this be enough to justify the attack? Events take a significant turn for the worse, leaving Leo and Sue to wonder if they will make it through the night. Patterson and Bourelle create this wonderful story that is paced so effectively as to lure the reader into the middle of this dastardly crime.

Murder on the Run (with Scott Slaven )

When a housekeeper and young boy are found slain, the owner of the house, a respectable Omaha doctor, is beside himself. Who could have wanted to break into his home and commit these two murders, particularly of his eleven year-old son? Homicide Detective Derek Mois agrees to do everything in his power to find the killer, no matter what it takes. There is no apparent motive and limited leads. Fast forward five years and the killer seems to have struck again, targeting a doctor and his wife. Now, Mois is armed with some parallels and acts on them. Could the medical angle be something that draws these two cases together? Following his gut and evidence surrounding the two families, Mois finds himself heading to Indiana to pull the pieces together. What he discovers is an interesting story that fuels a deep-seeded need for revenge. Patterson and Slaven are wonderful at pulling together this high-octane thriller that will keep the reader guessing until the final pages.

Both of these stories fit perfectly into this second volume, providing as much suspense and action as the initial collection. Murder is a varied crime, but glaring errors by perpetrators can sometimes unite them, as well entertain those who are away from events and reading, as in this collection. The central characters from both stories provide wonderful backstories and development throughout their appearances on the printed page. The reader can connect with them, which aids in better understanding the cases and fallout from the criminal acts. While these are true events with a fictional flavour, the stories read extremely well and all characters serve a great purpose, accentuating the numerous perspectives of the crime. These brief pieces could easily be called BookShots, with their short chapters and the story arc taking only one hundred pages or so. I am happy to have devoured the first two volumes in this series (and will read more when they come out), though I will not hunt down the television program, as I like Patterson in small doses.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson, Bourelle, and Slaven. Your stories kept me hooked on this new series and have me wanting more. Perfectly crafted for a short spell of reading, much like many of the short stories collaborations Patterson has undertaken.

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

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

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