The Moores are Missing (A BookShot Collection), by James Patterson, Loren D. Estleman, Sam Hawken, and Ed Chatterton

Nine stars

BookShots remain a wonderful way to spend a few hours, especially when bundling a number of them together to spend a day and permitting easier comparison in a single review. In this collection of three stories, the reader is able to explore three distinct stories that will keep them on the edge of their seats. From an amateur detective thriller to a quasi-police procedural, and ending with a longer manhunt story, James Patterson and his collaborators show the distinct advantage of BookShot reading.

The Moores are Missing, with Loren D. Estleman

After paying an impromptu visit to his neighbours, Ray Gillet discovers that they are nowhere to be found. Additional snooping leaves Gillet with the distinct impression that this was not as innocent a departure by the Moores as some would believe. Cell phones left behind, scrubbed, and no contact with others in town. After approaching the Chief of Police, Gillet is visited by a Federal Marshal, who tells of an attempt to pull the Moores into Wit Sec as they report on corrupt business practices that Kevin Moore has noticed. Unsure if he can sit and wait, Gillet approaches a friend, whose cyber-sleuthing provides a few leads, which eventually point up to Saskatchewan, on the Canadian Prairies. Armed with his travel documents, Gillet begins a trip north of the border, where he hopes to find more than snow and a bunch of grizzlies. If he’s lucky, he can locate the Moores before someone else ensures they go missing permanently. A wonderful collaborative effort between Patterson and Estleman, this will keep the reader hooked (and smirking at the pokes to Canada) throughout.

The Housewife, with Sam Hawken

Maggie Denning has had quite the life change in the past two years. Once the Chief of Detectives, with her biological clock ticking, she left the force to have twins and is now a homemaker. Her husband, Karl, is a rising star in the Homicide Division, once her underling and now living the dream. While out with her girls, Maggie meets a woman who’s just returning from a night on the town. Trouble is, the next day she turns up dead, having been murdered. Maggie, ever the sleuth, cannot heed Karl’s request to stay away from the investigation and begins poking around. Soon, another woman, also a homemaker, ends up dead, but only after Maggie spies her in a compromising situation. Could there be a group of housewives who are servicing one another’s husbands and turning up dead? Maggie reveals what she knows and Karl jumps on this, sure that it might be the big break the investigation needs. However, Maggie soon learns that there is a deeper and more sinister side to things, one that may open a Pandora’s Box of lies. Can the community handle it and is she next on the list, to keep her quiet? Patterson and Hawken weave quite the story with this piece as the reader is pushed into the centre of a middle-class escort ring.

Absolute Zero, with Ed Chatterton

Cody Thurston is seeking a quieter life, working at a pub in London, where he also lives. When a dust-up with some thugs one night goes sour, Thurston tries to keep his temper in order. This former Australian Special Forces Member has a few tricks up his sleeve and is not afraid to use them. Seeking revenge, this group of thugs takes everything Thurston has and frames him for a significant crime. Fuelled to set the record straight, Thurston begins a series of events that serve to restore balance. However, these men do not play by the rules, nor are their business ventures above board. In a journey that sees him remaining under the radar across two continents, Cody Thurston will not stop until he’s finished his own personal mission, even if it kills him. Patterson and Chatterton offer up this highly explosive and most intense of the BookShot stories, which will surely entertain those who take the time to read it.

All three of these stories were the perfect fit for a collection, as they explore different aspects of criminal activity and keep the reader hooked from the opening paragraphs. The key characters found throughout offer up unique perspectives when faced with legal matters, sometimes creating their own rule book, while seeking to set the record straight. Character development and backstory is effectively used throughout, permitting the reader to feel a strong connection, even if they do not agree with the decisions being made. The secondary characters also help paint an effective image of crime and the various legal loopholes, entertaining as well as supporting in their roles. All three stories worked effectively, though none could have blended with the others; their premises unique and the approach distinct. Patterson has chosen well, not only to collaborate with these three, but to bundle these pieces together. Proof positive that there are some stunning BookShot collaborations to be had.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson, Estleman, Hawken and Chatterton, for such a great array of stories. These are the types of BookShots I enjoy reading and will recommend them to all who will listen.

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