12th Of Never by James Patterson (Women’s Murder Club #12)

My Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: A baby on the way and two killers on the loose. Will Detective Lindsay Boxer be pushed to breaking point? An eccentric professor walks into Lindsay’s homicide department to report a murder that hasn’t yet happened. A convicted serial killer wakes from a two-year coma. He says he’s ready to tell where the bodies are buried, but does he have a much more sinister plan in mind? Lindsay doesn’t have much time to stop a terrifying future from unfolding. But all the crimes in the world seem like nothing when she is suddenly faced with the possibility of the most devastating loss of her life.

My Review: I have read each and every one of the Women’s Murder Club books and just lately they seem to be losing their flair. It seems that for each book, one of the characters has a major change of personality. Having said that, book 11 was a vast improvement on book 10! With this latest instalment, I was hoping to see things settle down once again but sadly this wasn’t the case.

With Lindsay Boxer as a new mother, her baby’s birth was the intro to this latest book. That alone is something that just feels secondary to the series and no real thought had gone into it. Yuki is now running a case which seemed to take over for the majority of the book and I have to be honest and say that this particular part of the story didn’t grab me. It is a case involving Keith Herman, a disgraced attorney, who is being prosecuted for the murder of his wife. Whilst Lindsay and Yuki are busy, we see Claire get demoted following the disappearance of a body from her Morgue, and finally we see fleeting glimpses of Cindy whose relationship with Lindsay’s partner Rich Conklin appears to be running into trouble.

I read this book pretty quickly, which wasn’t difficult as JP books are never meaty anyway. But by the end of the book, although I couldn’t say it was terrible, I also couldn’t say it was brilliant. It felt like storylines were created for all 4 characters and there was far too much going on for them individually. This made me feel like I was jumping from pillar to post, without any real sense of connection. Like many others I have probably read at least 60-70% of James Patterson’s books, but am finding that my patience is wearing a bit thin. I would prefer to wait all year for one book from the man himself, than to constantly try and catch up with all the various series and co-written books he produces. Overall, another James Patterson disappointment!

I, Michael Bennett by James Patterson (Michael Bennett #5)

My Rating: 3/5

After my last Michael Bennett (MB) outing (Tick Tock) I was looking forward to, and hoping, that the next instalment would be ramped up in terms of excitement. As usual with a Patterson I read this latest one in a day. Irrelevant of whether you love his books, he has that writing genius that keeps the readers engaged and for me it means literally not putting the book down.

In the latest MB we see the lovely Detective (ooohh I think I have a crush) take on the infamous Crime Lord Manuel Perrine. As usual the whole Bennett troops are there, all ten children, Michael’s Nanny Mary Catherine and Seamus. I think that alone means that readers become familiar with the family and you grow a certain attachment to them which keeps fans like me coming back time and time again. Unfortunately, the stories are not always James Patterson’s best but because I love the characters so much, I tend to overlook that!

The story itself is the usual JP style of short sharp chapters with plenty of action. When Michael and his school friend Hughie, who is also his colleague, try to take on Perrine the consequences are dire. Michael’s whole life is catapulted into danger as Perrine makes it his mission to destroy Bennett as well as his family. The story trundles along and I couldn’t help but feel that although I loved meeting up with the Bennett crew again the story just wasn’t as strong as it could have been. Yes there was plenty going on with drive by shootings, court room dramas and assassinations galore, but I just felt it was lacking that certain something. I enjoyed the personal element of the book and as usual Bennett’s love life is as screwed up as ever and I am really looking forward to what happens next.

The ending however is what made the book that bit better. It ends in a way that some people may say is a cliff-hanger, whereas in reality it’s a great opener for the next book. The ending made me happy that there was more drama, but irritated that I had to again wait to see the outcome for the Bennett’s. I debated the scoring of this and was tempted (after the ending) to give it 4 out of 5. However, the storyline just didn’t grab me enough so I resorted back to 3/5. A book that will keep the fans sweet for now but I am hoping we see a corker of a book in the next instalment!

Review of 11th Hour by James Patterson (Women’s Murder Club #11)

My Rating: 4/5
First off I need to say that if you haven’t read previous books in this series and you intend to read them in order please don’t continue reading the review as some of the storyline will inevitably contain spoilers.

In my ongoing love/hate relationship with James Patterson; I once again pre-ordered this book (even after convincing myself I shouldn’t) and set about catching up with the ladies from the Women’s Murder Club. I have read each book in this series and probably like many others feel like you have a history with these women. Lindsay Boxer, a detective, Claire who is a medical examiner, Cindy the reporter and Yuki a District Attorney have been friends for a long time and their tight knit circle will never change. In the 9th book in the series I thought I would give up as some of the characters seemed to have lost their edge; however the tenth book gained some ground as the ladies seemed back to their present form. This current book also showed the ladies back to form and it was a pleasure to see them in their usual roles.

The major difference now is that Lindsay Boxer is pregnant but she certainly doesn’t allow this to stop her working at her usual pace. When she and her partner Rich Conklin get called to the first murder scene they find millionaire Chaz Smith gunned down in a school. As usual, this case turns out to be one that has many elements, especially as the murder weapon was stolen from the department’s evidence locker.

Shortly after both Lindsay and Rich are called to another murder scene where two heads are discovered. Being pregnant and trying to run two murder cases see Lindsay at her most vulnerable, and for a change it really suited her. The story is the typical Patterson style with short and sharp chapters keeping your interest as the story picks up pace as the two investigations take on their own leads.

This book features Lindsay as the main lady and we see a little more of her personal life creeping into her work life as she tries to manage pending motherhood, along with maintaining her marriage to ex-FBI agent Joe. We also see a lot of Cindy as she does her usual trick of trying to get the lead on a story, whilst also battling her own issues surrounding her relationship with Lindsay’s partner Rich. We see less of Yuki and Claire although they still feature in the story as the ladies try to close both cases. We see Warren Jacobi, Lindsay’s boss feature in the story which for me was a welcome return.

The book was written well as usual and the story itself held my interest but after finishing it, I felt like there was no real progress with the ladies. I think maybe I was expecting something major to happen with one of them to keep this series from going stale. Having said that; I still think that Patterson will keep his fans happy with this latest release.

I enjoyed the book and would certainly say it’s a good one for the series. I am actually really looking forward to the next one, as I think with Lindsay having a baby and Yuki dating Lindsay’s boss things may heat up for the next book. It would also be nice to see the return of Jacobi more frequently as I always thought he spiced things up. Like I say, a winning formula but would like to see something to shock in the next one.

KILL ALEX CROSS BY JAMES PATTERSON (ALEX CROSS #18)

My Rating: 3/5

Mmmmm, let me think on it for a minute. I feel very torn trying to write a review on this book and if I am being honest I really wanted to like it. Like many readers, when you have read a series as long as this you want things to be great all the time, but inevitably there will come a point when maybe things just don’t sit right any more. I think that maybe I am leaning towards that opinion more than anything right now. Cross Country I absolutely loathed, I, Alex Cross was better but certainly not his best. With this one, I just feel it was mediocre.

The story itself had all the right ingredients, the kidnapping of the two most famous children in America and a terrorist attack on D.C. But somehow it just seemed too much like we had been there before and Alex Cross is maybe going over old ground. The writing style still has the magic Patterson touch with the short sharp chapters that keep the pages turning. That certainly wasn’t lacking, I just felt that there was a major `something’ missing and I cannot for the life of me place exactly what it is.

The character himself was lacking the magic sparkle this time around and I didn’t particularly think he was written in the same manner either. Alex Cross has always been a man who works hard, but this time round his family were a very poor second to his work and that made me think badly of him.

I know it sounds ridiculous to some, but when you have read 18 books over as many years, as a reader you feel you know the character. I certainly finished this book feeling like I didn’t know Alex Cross at all. The terrorist element of storylines in general is wearing a little thin with me as there seems to be so much of it around. I also felt that this part of the story, although very realistic, was a little rushed, and almost like an afterthought to bump the original storyline up a notch.

I am left feeling like I don’t know what just happened. Has Alex Cross finally run out of cases to solve, or has Mr Patterson bitten off more than he can chew with the amount of books he writes and co-writes? In my opinion it has to be one of the two, I just can’t make my mind up which one it is!

NOW YOU SEE HER BY JAMES PATTERSON AND MICHAEL LEDWIDGE

My Rating: 5/5

I first have to explain that I am a HUGE Patterson fan, but also a HUGE Patterson critic when it comes to his co-written books. There has been much speculation over the years about how much input Patterson has with these books and in my opinion some of his most recent work was diabolical, leaving me to wonder if he even glanced at them, let alone co-written them.

Michael Ledwidge started writing the Michael Bennett series with JP a while back and I am now a die-hard Bennett fan. I do however wonder if more of this book is Michael Ledwidge’s doing with a smattering of the Patterson touch? Maybe that is the secret to this pairing?

This book I was wary of, just because it was a stand alone co-written book and I wasn’t sure whether this would be as awful as the other recent ones, but I needn’t have worried. This book had me hook, line and sinker from chapter one.

It starts in the current day with Nina Bloom in New York with her daughter. After the first introductions are made, we are transported back to the early days in Nina’s life when she met her husband Peter. The book starts off with a bang and the disastrous events that start Nina’s life spiralling. Following the shocking events you can literally feel every emotion of this woman rolling off the page.

We then follow Nina’s life and how everything got her to where she is today. Nina’s husband Peter is a truly despicable character who I loathed from the moment I read about him, but for all the loathing it made for a special read due to the intense feelings I had to the characters in the book.

As Nina’s journey is made you feel the tension and fear build up in her life and then we are catapulted into her journey to try to save both herself and her daughter. There are other more minor characters making appearances but the whole crux of the story centres around Nina and her husband Peter.

I read this in a matter of hours and when the ending was finally reached I felt satisfied that this was the best Patterson book I had read in a while. Actually, I correct myself; I think this was the best Ledwidge book I had read in a while!

The book was everything you would expect, fast, edgy and full of suspense. The perfect book in every way and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was one of those books that made me think it would make a great film! Highly recommended!

10TH ANNIVERSARY BY JAMES PATTERSON (WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB #10)

My Rating: 3/5

In the last book 9th Judgement I was not a happy bunny. The lead character Lindsay seemed to have had a personality transplant and had become this wimp overnight. Thankfully she seems to have got some of her backbone back in this latest book. Her and her work partner Rich are a good fit and the case they worked on was the main thread of this book in the beginning. Thankfully the story was somewhat better than some of the others in the series although a long way off as good as they could be.

Yuki is the other character I just cannot get my head around. For a start she is an Assistant District Attorney so the true nature of somebody in that position doesn’t fit with how she is being written. The main thread for her was again not a bad story, but we keep seeing the insistent `pushing’ of her becoming involved with somebody and having to find herself a man. There is something about it that just doesn’t sit right with me.

Cindy is the one character that I think has become stronger and her relationship with Rich played a bigger part this time round. The last book I read their relationship felt like an added extra that was dumped in the book at the last minute but thankfully now it all seems to have taken an upward turn and fits her character and the story a lot better. Cindy was by far the best part of this latest read which isn’t that positive a sign seeing as the book features Lindsay a lot more.

Medical Examiner Claire was the only character that was missing for the largest part of the book. It felt like they had forgotten her or maybe it was the fact that there were a lot less dead bodies in this one for her to autopsy. Either way I think she should have featured more that she did.

Okay, I feel like I do this every time I read a Patterson nowadays. It’s almost like I get a shock if I love the book. The thing with Patterson books is that the writing style is genius. They are short sharp chapters which manage to pique your interest and keep you turning pages. However, the real heart of the stories seems to be somewhat missing. Is this down to Patterson losing his touch or down to the co-authors who some people claim are the real `writers’ to these books? Who knows?

The three stories that ran were okay, but just that, okay! They were interesting enough to keep me reading and in truth the only thing that made me that bit more interested were the characters I have grown to understand and know the more I have read.

The pace was as usual pretty good but there were no great surprises and like I mentioned before the body count was low! If this was the first in the series I think there would be less of a following and I think that people go back to these books time and time again because they are `easy readers’.

If you look at the overall rating of these Murder Club books you may be surprised. Amazon ratings show the majority of the series to be `middle of the road’ and I can understand why. Love him or loathe him, you won’t find many people that haven’t heard of or read a James Patterson.

This time I won’t try to convince myself that I won’t pre-order because (for no obvious reason) I probably will (what a sucker!). I wouldn’t say this was awful, but I wouldn’t say it was his best.

TICK TOCK BY JAMES PATTERSON (MICHAEL BENNETT #4)

My Rating: 3/5

I have become very jaded with JP’s work recently, especially those that are co-written with the exception of the books following Michael Bennett. In particular his most recent Bennett novel Worst Case was a great read so I had high hopes for this one.

The greatest part of a book is when an author develops characters you like and Michael Bennett is no exception. I did find that in this book he didn’t seem quite the same. I love the fact that he is a hardworking cop that has a huge brood of children that make up his family. I also love his Grandfather Seamus who is a cheeky but lovable part of Michael’s life. I can’t put my finger on why Bennett was so different this time round, maybe it was the fact that we see him enter into dangerous territory with two women and he just doesn’t handle it all that well.

The biggest let down for me was the story itself, it was lacklustre and to be honest a wash-out compared to the last one. The plot was pretty weak and the killer was all too predictable this time round. The addition of Emily Parker to the case didn’t add much to the actual plot with the killer and it lacked being genuine. It felt like the story plodded along and there was no real urgency like there is with many other Patterson novels.

Having said that I haven’t written off the Bennett series altogether yet I just hope that in the next instalment the main plot is a lot stronger than this one. I think that the majority of fans will enjoy this book but it certainly won’t stay in your memory as being a `great’ book.

CROSS FIRE BY JAMES PATTERSON (ALEX CROSS #17)

My Rating: 3/5

I feel a terrible burden when I pick up a James Patterson book these days. The man is a legend who has produced some fantastic work that has earned him the right to be called one of the bestselling authors of all time. A staggering figure is that in 2007 one in every fifteen hardback books sold was a James Patterson. I myself seem to have a love-hate relationship with his work.

Lately I haven’t been over enthused with any of his offerings and his best book in the last few months has been without a doubt `Worst case’ which is another popular series of books featuring Michael Bennett. It seems that all of his co-written books have been a pile of rubbish and it makes me wonder just how bad his books can get. I was however looking forward to his new release Cross Fire, his 17th in the Cross Series of books. When the book arrived my first thought was that this book would be the one that cemented my loyalty to JP and why I always pre-order his books no matter how disappointed I was with the last one.

In this latest instalment we again get drawn straight in at chapter one. JP’s infamous style of his short sharp chapters is there in abundance, which I confess I love. Alex is written exceptionally and as soon as you pick the book up you feel like you are getting reacquainted with an old friend. Nana is also still around as are the kids and you felt like you are once again part of the Cross’ hectic family life.

The story itself is the major let down for me. James Patterson in the past has come up with storylines that have had me staying up overnight to finish a book or being so engrossed that I miss my train stop. This book is certainly not up to what I would call his best standards. I thought the plot jumped and many of the chapters felt almost unfinished.

We see the re-appearance of an old adversary in the form of Kyle Craig. I was looking forward to this element of the story as you feel like you have seen Alex’ life up close and personal in all of his books. For me the first half of the book featuring Kyle Craig was okay but the second half was abysmal. It felt rushed and unfinished and had an element of laziness to it.

Overall the book was very average and again I finished it feeling that dreaded sense of disappointment returning. I don’t know why his books just don’t seem to hit the mark anymore and I find myself wondering if Alex Cross is running out of steam. In comparison his Michael Bennett novels are picking up pace and fast becoming favourites of mine. All in all, if you are expecting another corker in the Alex Cross series you may be disappointed.

POSTCARD KILLERS BY JAMES PATTERSON

My Rating: 2/5

James Patterson seems to continually disappoint me these days. It’s bad enough that I hated his last two books, but this one is only marginally better. Many people are die hard Patterson fans and until quite recently I would have also put myself in that category. Unfortunately, I am now becoming very cynical when it comes to any book he has co-written.

This particular book I was actually looking forward to due to many reasons. The first is that he has never co-written with author before; and secondly because Lisa Marklund is a successful author in her own right. Once again I have been let down.

The story itself sounded pretty good from the bog standard jacket info. NYPD Detective Jacob Kanon is on a tour of some of the most famous European cities. However, his reasons for the tour are not what you imagine. His daughter Kimmy was brutally murdered along with her fiancé while visiting Rome. Since then other couples have been found murdered in many other cities. There seem to be no connections except for a postcard that is sent to a local newspaper prior to each of the murders. Jacob feels that he has to track the killers down to find himself some peach and the only way to do that is team up with Dessie Larson, a reporter that received a postcard in Stockholm.

The first few chapters are pretty good with non-stop action from the killer and the detectives. Gruesome crime scenes and the police scratching their head is the general theme of the story in the beginning. This book actually had the potential to be really good.

Sadly, both Lisa Marklund and James Patterson got bored around halfway through this book and decided to slow the pace and the storyline at the same time. The story itself was okay, but it seemed to become more lacklustre the further into the book you got. The main character Jacob was not the strongest character I have read, but by no means the worst either. The relationship between Jacob and Dessie was also a bone of contention for me as it was very unbelievable and stilted.

Besides Jacob and Dessie, the only other characters that the reader is drawn to, is that of the killers. The killers were so mentally unbalanced it was laughable. There was nothing like the connection you feel to characters when reading a Cross novel. This is one of the major factors that is turning me rapidly into a Patterson turncoat.

I still pray that when the next Cross novel is released by Mr Patterson alone that I will take back all my words of criticism and be a number one fan again. I think that overall Patterson fans want just that, Patterson and Patterson alone. Leave the co-writing alone for a while!

PRIVATE BY JAMES PATTERSON

My Rating: 2/5

I finished James Patterson’s co-written book `Don’t Blink’ a couple of weeks ago and thought that I would never be able to read a book as bad as that with his name on it. Boy was I was wrong!

First off there are so many plots and sub-plots that you’re constantly thinking “Who”? That’s just the first gripe. The story itself is told in such a manner that it is almost rushed. You never get to connect with any of the characters because they don’t appear for long enough.

Plot wise you would think that a school-girl serial killer and Jack’s best friend being murdered would be enough but clearly not for James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. In addition to this we see Jack’s twin brother in trouble because he owes the Mob $600,000 as well as American Football Referees fixing matches. In my eyes this sort of level of plot detail is far too much for the style of writing many of his fans are used to.

Jack is the main character and all we seem to hear about is his war-torn past. Now don’t get me wrong if it’s relevant to the character and/or story then fine, but this just seemed to come across as rambling at times.

In addition to the plot and character problems there is the believable factor. I am fully aware that any fiction novel, especially one with James Patterson as co-writer, will have a certain element of things that are slightly outside the normal realms of life. However, this book really went overboard with the mention of a crime lab owned by Private that is better than the FBI has?!? There are also a number of scenes where Jack randomly turns up at the home of one of the leading figures of the Mob un-announced. I think there was too much of this type of scene which took it from being over the top to laughable.

There are very brief moments where we see Jack’s love life come to the forefront. Unfortunately for the ladies in question it is so brief that they probably weren’t even aware of it. The story felt rushed, incomplete and totally ridiculous.

All in all I was AGAIN disappointed with a James Patterson book. I still debate in my own mind whether the reason is because JP doesn’t contribute to the co-written books that much, or whether I am just tiring of his work. I think it must be the former as recently he has produced a reasonable offering with Worst Case featuring Michael Bennett. Like a fool I have pre-ordered his next book due Postcard Killers which is a co-written book due for release early September 2010. I am pinning my hopes on this particular one a little more as Lisa Marklund is the co-writer and as I understand it, has not co-written with JP before.