DON’T BLINK is the latest fast-paced, thrill-a-minute offering from the collaborating team of James Patterson and Howard Roughan, who scored before with YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. Despite being marred by a plot that is a bit too complex for the needs of the book and an ending that involves just one twist too many, it has enough winning moments to keep people reading, provided their pacemakers don’t give out first.
"[This book] has enough grisly, bloody and violent scenes to make anyone reading it swear off upscale steak houses, hotel rooms, gambling and Grand Central Terminal, among other places."
Nick Daniels is the go-to reporter for a magazine that is, however improbably in the current marketplace, hot, popular and making money. He is also head-over-heels in love with Courtney, his editor, who is unfortunately engaged to the magazine’s owner and guardian angel. Accordingly, Daniels is happy to put his personal concerns aside when, after returning from a dangerous assignment in Darfur, he is tapped to do an interview with Dwayne Robinson, a former baseball star who has been elusive and reclusive since blowing his chance to win a World Series several years before. The interview is set for Lombardo’s Steak House, a renowned establishment with a world-famous menu and an A-List clientele. But Daniels and Robinson are no sooner seated when a notorious lawyer for the mob is brutally murdered at the table next to them. Daniels never gets to complete his interview, as Robinson slips out of the restaurant in the ensuing chaos and is the victim of a suicide shortly thereafter.
Daniels accidentally records a key piece of evidence that he immediately takes to David Sorren, the New York District Attorney who is about to announce his candidacy for mayor and who also happens to be involved with Daniels’s ex-girlfriend. Daniels suddenly becomes very much in demand, and not in a good way. Even as he is pursued by a host of bad guys, he just can’t let things go --- “things” being Robinson’s apparent suicide and the one-time legend’s tie to a notorious bookie, a relationship that just might have gotten him killed. New York gets a whole lot more dangerous for Daniels than Darfur ever was, as the list of people he can trust is reduced to his sister, his niece and his editor, who has some surprising revelations of her own by book’s end. And the body count? Before all is over, Daniels --- and the people he loves most --- may be among the fallen.
At the risk of repeating what I’ve said elsewhere, Patterson’s strength lies in his ability to create frightening, cold-blooded villains. This is especially true in DON’T BLINK, which, among other things, has enough grisly, bloody and violent scenes to make anyone reading it swear off upscale steak houses, hotel rooms, gambling and Grand Central Terminal, among other places. It’s unfortunate that the authors took the twists and turns at the end just one step too far, as readers with memories will see what has previously occurred unravel before their eyes. While this excess spoils DON’T BLINK, it doesn’t ruin it, resulting in another winner for Patterson and Roughan.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 30, 2010