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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Private Berlin by James Patterson (Private, #5) - Book Review

4.5/5 Stars

Burying the past is the one unforgivable crime...


Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 429
Chapters: 134 (Plus a prologue with five parts.)
Publisher: Century

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

After Private No. 1 Suspect, this entry's predecessor, I was a little dejected with the series. At that point, the amount of Patterson novels I'd devoured were blurring in my mind, and any new book was becoming more and more generic.

This is more like it! I've learned a lesson: Never give up on Patterson and his co-authors.

Private Berlin is everything I want. Patterson and Mark Sullivan drive a compelling new cast through a gripping mystery that, while not too far from their usual style, strikes the right balance between emotive and suspenseful. Using historical events and aspects from those events (the Cold War, the Berlin Wall, the Stasi, etc.), they weave a haunting tale rooted in the very real past.

Synopsis (This time round, I'll be using the blurb that comes with my edition of the book.)

A history lesson they'll never forget...and neither will you.

Mattie Engel is one of the rising stars at Private Berlin, and believes she's seen the worst of people in her previous life with the Berlin police force. That is until Chris, her colleague - and until recently, her fiance - is found dead, brutally murdered in an old slaughterhouse outside the city.

The slaughterhouse is filled with bodies. But just as Private begin their investigations, the building explodes, wiping out all evidence of the crimes, and nearly killing Mattie and her team.

Mattie soon realises that a masked killer is picking off Chris's childhood friends, one by one, and destroying the trail. But who wants the past buried so badly? What is the truth about that slaughterhouse? And will Mattie become the killer's next victim?

Plot - 4.5/5 Stars

Loaded with intrigue right from the start, Patterson and Sullivan drag the reader along on a ferocious journey that unearths secrets and sorrow. Private Berlin is focused on one plot, and while there are a couple other tales woven in the web, they converge and add to the overall story. This entry is dark, but the easy-going nature of Patterson's novels keeps things from being bogged down.

Intertwined with the suspense and thrills, the authors give a fascinating, but harrowing, look at aspects of history that haven't long passed. This insight helps connect the reader to the emotional parts of the plot, and while there are cliches and cheesy conveniences, I cannot praise this intricate entry to the series enough.

Through an action-packed, adrenaline-fuelled story we travel, battered by twists, turns, and our own imaginations. When we reach the closing scenes, the fantastic finale feels earned and satisfying in a way that this series had yet to be.

Pace - 5/5 Stars

At over 400 pages, Private Berlin could be quite imposing to newcomers of the authors, but don't you worry, Patterson and Sullivan structure perfectly, forcing you to turn page after page as you absorb revelations and relationships like oxygen.

Characters - 4/5 Stars

The members of the cast aren't the best characters you'll ever read, but thanks to the story, they're bolstered above their newbie status. It's the first time in the Private series that they've made an appearance, and while owner of Private Investigations, Jack Morgan, is a secondary character, the fresh feel mixes well with just how damn good everyone is.

Mattie works as the protagonist, and her family life and professional relationships are interesting. You can buy into this cast. Individual and overall development are nothing spectacular, but they're enjoyable. Every character has been carefully created, and it shows.

One of the most exciting parts of the novel is the way the authors manoeuvre the heroes and the villain. So many times the two come into contact with one another, and the protagonists are none the wiser, eliciting anxiety and frustration that only drive the reader forwards.

Writing - 4.5/5 Stars

We're back on form in this department. The authors balance their short chapters by ensuring smooth switches in viewpoints and places. Private No. 1 Suspect's structure frustrates me to no end with its stop-and-start feel, but Private Berlin delights in making the chapters important, while not spreading each scene too thin.

We're treated to some gruesome details that are sharp; some fantastic action sequences that get your heart racing; and an entire story of suspense that kicks your detective side into gear.

Overall - 4.5/5 Stars

I want this standard of storytelling to remain in future entries to the series, but I guess we will see.

But it's worth a few mediocre instalments to reach one that's like Private Berlin.


Previous Instalment: Private No. 1 Suspect
Next Instalment: Private Down Under


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