Sunday, 15 May 2016

Private by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro (Private, #1) - Book Review

4/5 Stars

The police can't help you.

The press will destroy you.

Only one place to turn: Private...

Edition: Paperback
Pages: 481
Chapters: 124 (Plus a prologue with two parts.)
Publisher: Arrow Books

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


Private's premise is instantly intriguing: A super-detective agency that doesn't have to follow the rules and is run by some of the top minds imaginable? Sign. Me. Up!

It just drips with Patterson's usual no-frills thriller-fest, and, for the most part, you can be assured that he and his co-author, Maxine Paetro, pull it off. Private boasts a phenomenal pace populated with a clever cast, giving us strong character development at a breakneck speed. Its plot is solid and exciting, if a little bland and full of convenience.

But it's Jack Morgan, protagonist and owner of Private Investigations, that soars above anything else. He makes this novel with his past, personality and complexity.

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Private is one of the most renowned detective agencies in the world.
It has respect, money and intelligent workers who are damn fine at their jobs.
But, above all, it's not constrained by rules and regulations.
Former US Marine Jack Morgan owns the company and its many worldwide limbs, but right now he heads up the LA office, and his plate is full.
If the murder of more than a dozen schoolgirls and the gambling scandal of the decade aren't enough, Jack's former lover has been murdered, and all fingers point to Jack's best friend.
Private has its work cut out for it, but will it succeed, or crumble under the professional and personal weight it's under...

Plot - 4/5 Stars

Private has an okay start, one that will pique your interest, but doesn't hold much surprise for those of us addicted to the thriller genre. We have our mystery, murder and mayhem, and the authors are pros when it comes to driving those elements forward. Things can feel a little jumbled as we bounce around character viewpoints, but once the stage is set, we're all caught up, ready and willing to race on.

The stories, overall, are interesting, and there's never a dull moment. I was initially worried that there were going to be too many, but thankfully the authors deftly manoeuvre the threads, managing to weave them in a way that keeps them separate but also cohesive. 

Private hits its high around 3/4 of the way through, and with some good ol' convenience to help smooth over any cracks, its conclusions are, sadly, predictable. There are no twists to spice resolutions, and while the authors do a great job of closing the curtains, there's no fire.

In saying that, there's one exception: Jack's twin brother. A plot that simmers in the background comes with some pretty heavy allusions to trouble in the future, and it's trouble I'd like to see.

Pace - 4.5/5 Stars

Private is not a novel that'll take up too much of your time. Slick action helps break the story's meatier exposition, and Patterson and Paetro's short, but packed, chapters have you turning pages like there's no tomorrow.

Characters - 4.5/5 Stars

The people that populate Private are its best aspect. The authors have done a stupendously stellar job with its heroes. A few just reach the line of being fleshed out, but the rest soar above that line. Jack himself, our protagonist, is a sensational first-person narrator. He's a complex and riveting man with a rich history and a palpable personality. He's smart, marine trained and the story works hard on his development.

The rest of the cast, like Justine, Del Rio, Colleen etc. are all solid characters in their own right. As we journey with them through third-person narration, they stand on their own just as well as they compliment our main character. We get a great feel for what makes them tick and what makes them valuable to Private Investigations and Jack.

As a consequence, the novel's villains are a bit lacklustre. When it gets to understanding their motives we don't really care.

Writing - 4/5 Stars

Private revels in the authors' ability to streamline a compelling thriller. As always, Patterson and Paetro keep things simple and moving, giving us only what we need to know to build the scenery and plots. While this does have the unfortunate downside of being quite light and airy compared to some other thrillers, you can never go wrong with a Patterson novel.

Overall - 4/5 Stars

Get ready for another Patterson series, because Private gets a good ball rolling.

Next Instalment: Private London

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