Evil twins, serial killers, drug deals convolute detective tale

Annie Yoskoski, Staff Writer

Lately, I have been on a mystery kick, so James Patterson has been rather prominent on my bookshelf.  As a famed mystery novelist who is known for collaborating – in this case, with writer Maxine Paetro – readers have many books to choose from.

The latest book I picked up was “Private: #1 Suspect.” It has everything a reader expects from Patterson at this point: action-packed and suspense-filled. The only problem is it’s a bit too far-fetched.

The novel follows Jack, a former Marine who owns the top private detective company in the world, which is simply called Private. The company was handed down to him by his father, but Jack is the one who truly built it from the ground up His only competition is his twin brother, who runs the similarly named Private Security.

Jack is obscenely wealthy, well-connected and extremely intelligent. When he comes home from a trip to find his former lover and secretary dead in his bedroom, he becomes the prime suspect for her murder.

At this point in the story, things start to develop into over-dramatization. DNA evidence could implicate him or his evil twin brother. Witnesses say they saw Jack, but that also could have been his brother Tommy.

As if the twin aspect wasn’t enough to confuse anyone, Jack has various employees and assistants who all help in one way or another, jamming their own subplots into the already convoluted main one.

While Jack is out on $20 million bail, the reader follows not only his story, but also two different accounts of murder that his company is investigating. Because the chapters are short, the reader must bounce around from Jack’s quest to prove his innocence to a whole new narrator – Jack’s assistant Justine – who is working on another case with a young movie star and trying to clear him of murder as well.

Just as abruptly, the reader has to switch (again!) to story about a hotel-hopping serial killer. Then there’s the $30 million drug deal with the mob. Readers are pulled back and forth from case to case.

While the book is enjoyable, it’s not exactly light reading. This hard-boiled detective novel has far too much going on, and too many plots that do not connect with one another. The book is well-written, but jumpy, and readers should prepare to forget who certain characters even are.

At least, I can say it can’t be classified as a cookie-cutter.

3 stars out of 5