PRIVATE GAMES is the latest installment in James Patterson’s Private series. Private is an international investigation firm with offices in all major capitals of the world, including London, where the book is set. Mark Sullivan, a renowned author with several acclaimed thrillers to his credit, assists Patterson in the writing of this thrill-a-minute, plot-driven story full of twists and turns.
It’s the eve of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Private has been retained to provide security for the Games’ participants and spectators, and has flown 400 agents to London for that purpose. Peter Knight, who is affiliated with Private’s London office, is the primary go-to guy for coordinating security, and he more than has his hands full. Knight is the widowed father of twin preschoolers, one of whom is a handful all by himself. On the eve of the Games, Knight’s nanny quits, and his chance of finding another one ---- in London, on the eve of the Olympics --- is well-nigh impossible, thus making the juggling of his personal and professional responsibilities a one-handed task.
"Mark Sullivan, a renowned author with several acclaimed thrillers to his credit, assists Patterson in the writing of this thrill-a-minute, plot-driven story full of twists and turns."
But Knight’s problems are multiplied one-hundredfold when a shadowy terrorist who calls himself Cronus makes his presence known even before the Games begin. Cronus’s first act is to murder Sir Denton Marshall, a member of the Organizing Committee for the London Olympic Games. Marshall was engaged to Knight’s mother, making Knight’s stake in bringing the killer to justice all the larger. Cronus begins to brazenly communicate both the credit and intent of his actions through a newspaper reporter, while disrupting the Games, seemingly at will, through a series of deadly attacks against the participants during what otherwise would be the pinnacles of their achievements.
Cronus is aided in his endeavor by The Furies, three sisters with a score of their own to settle on the world stage. While it is The Furies who are used to carrying out Cronus’s mad plan, they are also ultimately the weak link in his chain of command. Knight, with his savvy intellect and keen powers of observation, finds the first clue that begins the long, twisting and ultimately surprising trail leading back to Cronus. When Cronus’s plans to totally disrupt the Olympics fails, he embarks on a last-ditch effort to dramatically end the Games for all time, and to remove Knight as a threat by attacking him where he is most vulnerable.
While Cronus may be just a tad over the top as an antagonist, it doesn’t make him any less dangerous, and his ability to strike the Olympic Games with apparent impunity from anywhere and everywhere makes this an addictive read from first page to last. His methods of attack are ingenious, violent and terrifying, and if the book doesn’t have Olympic officials in the real world looking over their shoulders, collectively, it will only be because they have not read it. And even if you are not interested in the Summer Games, you will want to read the book, not only for its thrill-a-page plotting but also for the opening day spectacle that’s on display. If the Games are presented with half of the pageantry in the real world that they have here, they will never be forgotten. PRIVATE GAMES shows both Patterson and Sullivan to be at the top of theirs.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on February 16, 2012