It would seem to be almost impossible to read every book to which James Patterson’s name is affixed. I am pretty sure that he is clipping along at the rate of one per month in the adult genres, and doing yeoman’s work in the children and young adult sections as well. If you are inclined to pick and choose, I would like to respectfully direct your attention to KILL ME IF YOU CAN. Patterson, more than ably assisted by the extremely talented and woefully underappreciated Marshall Karp, has in the closing days of summer come up with one of the must-read books of the season.
"This fabulous thriller is full of action and occasional humor, and just enough sex to make the heat rise when the book is closed."
The protagonist is a good-looking chap named Matthew Bannon, a second-generation serviceman who is retired and is now a starving artist in the fine arts program at Parsons in New York. He is deeply and totally involved with a gorgeous woman named Katherine Sanborne, who happens to be a professor there, and she deeply appreciates his brushstrokes in more ways than one. Of course, it takes a few pages to get to all of that.
KILL ME IF YOU CAN kicks off when an assassin for hire, known only as the Ghost, executes a hit in Grand Central Station. The victim, a very lethal and dangerous Russian named Walter Zelvas, is in the process of stealing several million dollars in diamonds from a diamond syndicate when he is terminated by the Ghost. Bannon is on the scene, finds the diamonds, and does not do the honest thing. Instead, he takes off with them, and all too soon finds himself to be the subject of a pursuit by a number of people.
They include two very bent cops who are working for a dangerous man named Chukov, who in turn works for an even more dangerous individual, Nathaniel Prince. Prince is connected to the top echelons of the diamond syndicate and needs those diamonds back in the worst possible way. As we all know, trouble flows downhill, and Chukov, who is right in the middle of the stream, hires the Ghost to discover who stole the diamonds, recover them, and kill the thief, who of course is Bannon. Chukov happens to hate the Ghost, so he also recruits another very dangerous assassin, Marta Krall, for the same mission, and to take The Ghost out in the bargain.
Meanwhile, Bannon is having the time of his life. In addition to copping the diamonds, he has sold a few paintings, and his career seems to be on the cusp of success. He plans to celebrate his good fortune by taking Katherine on a trip to Paris, where he will get around to telling her about the diamonds he misappropriated and a few other things as well. It’s a great vacation until the happy couple is traced there, at which point their trip becomes an exciting and very dangerous romp across Europe, from Paris to Venice to Amsterdam, until they return to the United States. Once they are back in New York, a dramatic and deadly tableau is played out, ironically in Grand Central Station, where Bannon holds several lives in the balance and will either keep or lose everything, including his life.
Now a warning: About halfway through, Patterson and Karp drop a bombshell that will have you reading (or at least skimming) what has gone before once or twice. You will be shell-shocked for at least the next hundred pages, but it changes the entire mood of the novel and sets up at least the possibility of a continuing series. This fabulous thriller is full of action and occasional humor, and just enough sex to make the heat rise when the book is closed. Give KILL ME IF YOU CAN a chance. You will not be sorry.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on September 8, 2011