James Patterson


James Patterson

When I talk to friends about books, many times I will mention an author I have just read and often they have never heard about him or her, but for even the most casual reader the name of James Patterson sounds familiar. What else can I say about one of the most successful American writers who sold over 300 million books and still going strong, despite criticism from some other authors like Stephen King who once called him a terrible writer.

There is no way I can write about all of his books I read (I think it would be over 50), but I can in general, describe what I think about his writing and I hope while I keep reading, I can be more specific about the next books.

He is best known for his novels about fictional psychologist Alex Cross. I read all of Alex Cross books, and I very much like them, but I think I like the Michael Bennett series more. Both series are kind of similar, Alex Cross and Michael Bennett are both officers of the law, who are both trying to solve very difficult cases while fighting crazy criminals who take the fight personally and try to harm Alex or Michael and their families. So, Alex and Michael must not only worry about catching the bad guys but at the same time protect their own families ( this is a major part of the series). In addition both guys have very complicated personal lives and the on and off relationships creates a whole other story by itself. Even though, the books are similar and the characters are interchangeable I enjoy every single book of each series and cannot wait for the next book “Hope to die” from the Alex Cross series and “Burn” from the Bennett series.

The other very good series by Patterson is the “Private” series. This series is about a private detective agency owned by ex Marine Jack Morgan. Similar to Cross and Bennett , Jack Morgan solves difficult crimes and fights with nasty criminals ( but has little bit more freedom to act outside the rules and regulation, as a private agency is not the Police or FBI). And again Jack has very convoluted personal life with many relationships but never serious ( according to his psychologist ( Jill who he is dating on and off),  Jack is not capable of opening himself to anyone).

Some other stand alone books by Patterson that I would recommend are: “Life Guard”, “Honeymoon”, “Beach House” and “Beach Road” , “Sail”, “Toys” ( one of my Top books), “ Zoo” ( really , really, good book) and the “Mistress”

The latest book by Patterson I read was “The Jester”- when I rented this book I was expecting a criminal novel but to my surprise when I began to read,  I discovered that this is a history book!! It should be obvious for anyone who read my web site that I am a big fan of history books, I have read them since I was a child (in three different languages), and even though I would not call myself an expert, I would hope I have enough knowledge about history novels to be able to offer an intelligent opinion in the subject.

When I began to read “The Jester” I got little uneasy not knowing what to expect of Patterson, but quickly I discovered that the master of suspense can write history books. “The Jester” is a story of a simple man Hugh De Luc who is joining The Crusades in a search for adventure and fortune in XI century France. But after the horrific experiences of the “holy war” Hugh came back to his village to finds his wife and his son murdered by the cruel liege lord, Baldwin. From this moment Hugh’s one mission was to discover the truth and avenge the death of his family. This is not an easy task to do in the medieval France, that is for a peasant to try and find  justice against the nobles.

This book was a pleasant surprise. The author keeps the action moving fast, and did not stray from the main topic. What I like is that the characters   he created were very realistic. Many times in history novels we read about knights who lived by the code of honor or about the poor villagers who did not have opinion about anything and were not able to think for themselves. Patterson shows I think, a more truthful picture where most of the knights were bastards and peasants actually were human beings with a dreams and feelings. The author also introduced lots of humor (hence the title of the book) and a love story (this part is maybe little less realistic, but I don’t want to spoil the book). Some of the fights scenes though, very engaging, were somewhat not very realistic ( it is like expecting an amateur fighter who trains at a local YMCA getting to the ring with a professional MMA fighter and wins the brawl) , but still this was a good , fun book to read and I hope Patterson will write more history books!!

I think “Invisible”  (read August 2014) was his worst book I have read so far. This is a book about FBI analyst Emma Dockery, whose sister Marta died in a house fire. Emma suspects that Marta’s death was connected to a serial killer who murdered many other random victims by torturing and setting them of fire in their own houses. Emma who was suspended by FBI, devoted her live to find the connection between the murders and track down the brilliant killer, who makes the fires looks like accidents, so no one even suspects or investigate the deaths. Emma convinced her ex fiancé Harrison Bookman “Books” to support her case with the FBI director and they assembled small team to work the case.

The plot was great , so I was expecting the book to be very engaging and interesting but right from the beginning I struggled  with it. The characters  were strange, Emma was weird , her relationship with the FBI boss was quite silly (secret recordings, blackmail, etc), her relationship with “Books” was even stranger, I did not like the sarcastic  sense of humor (Emma’s and others). In the middle the book was better but the end was disappointing. Without disclosing the ending, I started to suspect who the real killer was a few chapters before the end, so it wasn’t  a  big mystery to me when the killer was reviled and the finale was anticlimactic and somewhat unrealistic. Overall poor novel by great author.

There is something about Patterson’s writing that makes him unique. His books are so similar that I should be bored with them, but this is far from the truth. I really have a good time reading his novels and every time, I feel like reaching for a crime novel I know it would be a safe bet to find something written by James Patterson.

“Private India”- I have read almost every book written by James Patterson and I am a big fan of his writing. I have not read a book by Patterson that I did not enjoy until I read “Private India”.  I read all the other books in the Private series and I loved them, but this one was horrible. I don’t think he actually wrote it.  The cover of the book lists James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi as writers, so this maybe the answer. The only reason I read the whole book, was because I could not figure out who the killer was. I contemplated to just skip to the last chapter but I painfully finished it.

The language used in the novel was strange, the structures of sentences were so weird it looked like it was written by non-native English speaker.  Some of the words were used in such content that it was confusing. So confusing to the point that I did not know what was going on.  There was lots of swearing as well, this typically dose not bother me, but in this book it sounded so artificial that it was irritating.

The plot was somewhat interesting but it was jumping all over and it was hard to keep track of what was going on. May be it was designed to challenge the readers but for me it was frustrating.

I don’t know what happened to James Patterson in this book but I hope it was only a “slip” for him I would hate to lose one of my favorite authors.

“Burn” – After reading all previous books in the Michele Bennett series I couldn’t wait for “Burn” to be available and maybe I “excited” myself too much and expected too much of this one because it  was a  slight disappointment. It was still good book and I read it very quickly but I felt that something was missing. The book started where the last one ended. Bennett and his family were in witness protection program, while waiting for Michael to testify against the Mexican cartel.  After Mike came back to NY, he got his new assignment working in ombudsman squad, where he and his crew of “misfits cops” are taking on the difficult task of handling cases in high crime area.

This is not a bad book, but something was missing. I feel like Patterson started many story lines and never finished them or made a big deal about something and then would move on. For example,  Seamus illness  (mild spoiler) he has a stroke and then suddenly he is fit and running. For me there was too much personal drama in Bennett’s life , everything was happening at the same time (seems like every time Mike has time for himself suddenly something bad is happening) . That is getting little bit old! Some of the police work is so sloppy that it was irritating and I can’t imagine the cops would be so careless.  The author also did not do good job with the villains. Typically Patterson introduces some “pretty nasty” characters ( read “Gone”) but this time, some rich folks eating people or bank robbers or even a crazy jealous   boyfriend did not make me “shiver”. The author did not build these characters well. This book did not have an exciting theme and did not keep me very interested.  The ending was anticlimactic also, so the book left me somewhat disappointed. Someone commented on Goodreads that James Patterson has someone else writing his books and maybe this is the problem.  The first six books in this series were very good and I hope the eight will be great

“Alert” the new book about New York detective Michael Bennett is a typical fast moving, exciting criminal thriller by James Patterson. It is easy to read with and has a good sense of humor. I like the Bennett’s series and how the detective juggles an incredible career and crazy personal life. Sometimes I just wonder where Bennett gets his money as a single father with 10 kids , living in NY , working 70 hr /week ,  and sending kids into a private schools and hiring full time nanny but this is a separate subject. The 8th book in the series is a continuation of his previous novels, does not offer anything extra but develops the characters and their relationships. I enjoyed reading it, I didn’t set up my expectation too high and wasn’t disappointed.


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