Archive for February 2013

Private by James Patterson


I'll admit it, sometimes I just feel like reading a quick, entertaining, James Patterson novel. With a really crazy schedule that barely left time for sleep, let alone reading and reviewing novels, I knew I could count on Patterson to provide a non-taxing read that I could pick up in short bursts and not be completely lost with. Unfortunately, its the entertainment factor that seems to be more hit or miss when it comes to Patterson's recent efforts. As he has grown into a novel producing brand, releasing numerous books with various co-authors, the quality of his stories seems to have suffered. With all this in mind, curiosity got the better of me, and I found myself plowing through one of Patterson's latest series novels, Private.

As any reader of any of Patterson's novels can attest, pace is rarely an issue. I easily found myself 80 pages deep into the book with no problems, but was surprised at the amount of time the authors (Maxine Paetro co-authors this narrative) spent setting up the characters and upcoming action. The novel follows former Marine pilot Jack Morgan who, after inheriting 15 million dollars from his imprisoned father, starts his own private investigation firm. Within 5 years, Jack's company, Private, quickly becomes a success with branches around the globe. Jack oversees the LA branch, and has recently become very busy with three urgent cases.

To start things off, his best friend, Andy, has called him to investigate the murder of his wife, Shelby. As is always the case, Andy is the police's prime suspect, but Jack knows Andy would never kill the wife he loved. Jack tasks Private with finding the real killer before Andy is hauled off by the LAPD. In addition, Jack's uncle Fred, a high level executive of the NFL, has hired Private to investigate the possibility of referees fixing games through bad calls. With several examples, the evidence seems to support this theory. Jacks firm has to prove this case before it reaches the public and completely destroys the integrity of the game. Finally, there is the case of the schoolgirl killer. Thirteen girls have been killed and even stranger, none of the killing were done the same way. With the rate of the killings quickly rising, Private is in a race to catch the killer before more innocent lives are lost.

This is probably one of my favorite Patterson novels in recent memory. Considering some of his other attempts, the characters were generally well thought out, and the mysteries were intriguing without ever getting completely over the top. With all the cases coming to a satisfying, if somewhat predictable, conclusion, this novel was brisk while still providing enough entertainment to make it an enjoyable read.

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and GoodReads.

(2013: week 9, book 6)

Heat Lightning by John Sandford


Someone is killing Vietnam War Veterans. Each time, the deceased man is left at a veteran's memorial with a lemon in his mouth. After two of these murders, it is clear to Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator, Lucas Davenport, that there is a connection. Unable to devote his own skills, (Davenport is featured in Sandford's "Prey" series), he calls in the only man who can clean up the mess. It is time to call in the man he hired to solve "the hard stuff".

Enter Virgil Flowers, the thirty something detective, whose quirky, off the cuff reputation is as well known as his ability to solve the cases that no one else can. To say Flowers doesn't fit the standard law enforcement mold would be an understatement. He keeps is blond hair at shoulder length, wears rock band t-shirts and cowboy boots, occasionally writes for national outdoors magazines, and keeps in contact with various women and ex-wives, all of whom he has fallen in love with. Despite all of this apparent baggage, Flowers gets the job done, and he does it well. As he begins investigating the deaths of the veterans, he realizes that they are being killed professionally, as if they are each being checked off of a list. When he discovers the connections, he is immersed in a global conspiracy dating back to the time of the war.

There is no denying Sandford's ability to create riveting mysteries with relatable characters. He writes with an urgency that keeps the plot moving, never allowing the suspense to ease. As I read, I continued to be sucked deeper into the mystery as each twist and turn was unveiled. Virgil Flowers has a charismatic everyman charm that forced me to root for him. It has been almost a year since I read the first Virgil Flowers novel, and I forgot how much I enjoyed the world that Sandford has provided. There is a kind of timelessness to the story that will surely appeal to any mystery fans. With two solid novels, this series is quickly becoming my new favorite!

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and GoodReads.

(2013: week 5, book 5)

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