Let me begin by stating that I love the concept behind this
first installment in a new series by James Patterson and Maxine
Paetro. Besides being the title of the book, Private is the name of
a wildly successful private investigation agency that is privy to
the secrets of the rich and/or famous and exposing the guilt of the
sick and/or sleazy.
Private Investigations is headed by a second-generation
investigator named Jack Morgan, a former CIA agent/soldier and a
ladies man who is not afraid to dip his pen in the office ink,
among other places. He also has commitment issues, and appears to
be suffering from some undiagnosed and untreated post traumatic
stress disorder as the result of an incident during the Afghanistan
War. Accordingly, anyone picking up this book can look forward to
violence, romance, sex, and --- a Patterson trademark --- a very
unique villain. Or two. And that is not even counting Jack’s
good-for-less-than-nothing twin brother.
Obviously, there is a lot going on in PRIVATE. Let us first go
back to the concept that I mentioned initially before we go any
further with what else you will find here. Patterson and
Paetro’s volume launches the series in the United States.
Meanwhile, thriller authors overseas will be writing their own
versions of the series, with PRIVATE LONDON by Mark Pearson being
published in approximately nine months, and others to follow in
writing PRIVATE ROME, PRIVATE AUSTRALIA and PRIVATE AMSTERDAM.
Hopefully these titles will be available here as well, opening the
work of the writers selected to an American audience that may have
only a passing or limited familiarity with their work. I
don’t see a downside to that at all.
Patterson and Paetro, as with their Women’s Murder
Club series, don’t lose much time setting things up as
Private Investigations finds itself immersed in three cases. The
one that is most significant to Morgan involves the murder of
Shelby Cushman. Shelby and Morgan had an intimate history, and
following their involvement she married Jack’s best friend.
Her murder is a mystery at its core: everyone liked her, and she
had no enemies. Who would want to kill her?
Private Investigation’s involvement in the second case is
at the request of the Chief of the LAPD. For two years the Los
Angeles area has been reeling from a series of murders known as the
Schoolgirl Killings, in which high school girls have been abducted
and executed. The killer seems to have access to their most
intimate secrets and knowledge of their friends and habits. Private
Investigations has the scientific wherewithal to painstakingly
unravel the puzzle, though it is ultimately a young witness to an
earlier crime who puts Morgan’s investigations on the right
path. They encounter a major problem, however: knowing is not the
same as proving.
Morgan’s third case comes at the request of his uncle, who
numbers among his friends the owners of two professional football
teams. Someone appears to be fixing game results, for reasons of
their own. But how are they doing it? And why? The search for
answers puts the team on a somewhat twisted trail, one that
indirectly provides a solution to one of the other cases.
PRIVATE mixes action, mystery and personal drama to create a
highly readable and entertaining experience. If this first volume
is any indication, Patterson and Paetro may well be on their way to
rivaling --- and possibly surpassing --- the popularity of their
Women’s Murder Club series.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011