Review

When the Wind Blows

by James Patterson

Using his trademark short chapters and simple declarative
sentences, James Patterson takes on new content in WHEN THE WIND
BLOWS. He's still writing a thriller, a kind of suspense novel, but
this is not one of the Alex Cross tales with which he's been so
successful in recent years. Perhaps he's riding the crest of a wave
that will inundate us, around the year 2000, with a certain kind of
book --- you could call it "a millennial
thriller."  

The plot and characters of WHEN THE WIND BLOWS read like a
three-parter for the X-FILES. In the Scully role we have Frannie,
who like Scully does medical stuff including autopsies (Frannie,
however, is a veterinarian; this turns out to be crucial to the
plot); instead of Mulder we have Kit. Now it just happens that baby
foxes are called kits, and Mulder's middle name is Fox. Is this a
coincidence? Hmm.  

Frannie finds --- shall we say --- a Child With a Difference in the
woods.The child's name is Max. Max is fourteen and she is being
hunted like an animal (remember, Frannie's a veterinarian) by some
very bad people from whom she ran away. Max has a brother who is
exactly like her but a few years younger, and he is being hunted
too. Kit  --- whose real name is not Kit, but Frannie
doesn't find this out for quite a while, just as she doesn't know
for quite a while whether he's a good guy or a bad guy --- is
renting a cabin from Frannie while he pursues something the FBI
doesn't want him to pursue (they think he's on vacation), which
means of course he could lose his job if not his life; eventually
Kit's obsession leads to those very same bad guys who are hunting
Max and her brother. Will any of our good guys survive? It's touch
and go to the very end, while you keep turning the pages.

  

James Patterson is a genius. He writes this book with the brief
chapters and short sentences, with characters we sort of know
already and a plot so predictable it's transparent --- but these
are not shortcomings. Not the way James Patterson does it. His
genius lies in the fact that out of such seemingly simple stuff he
can and does construct a book that is almost impossible to put
down. You think you know what's going to happen, and yet you have
to keep turning those pages in order to find out if you're right or
not. These characters you somehow sort of know already, including
one who's so unique you can't possibly know her and yet somehow you
do, are irresistible. You really, really care what happens to these
people --- especially to the ones who
are...not...really...quite...human. Whatever they are, they are
children, and so you care all the more.  

After reading WHEN THE WIND BLOWS people may want to ponder a bit
upon the skill of the man who put together all the elements that
kept them involved for those hours. Other less picky people will
just read it for the surface entertainment value and the trace of a
moral lesson the book contains. Either way, it won't matter to
Patterson: the cover letter that comes with the review copy
mentions an advertising/promotion budget of one million dollars.
WHEN THE WIND BLOWS will be a best seller. It can't
miss.  

Reviewed by Dianne Day on January 24, 2011

When the Wind Blows
by James Patterson

  • Publication Date: October 1, 1999
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Vision
  • ISBN-10: 0446607657
  • ISBN-13: 9780446607650