Missing: A Private Novel
MISSING is, in a word, terrific. It is part of James Patterson’s ever-expanding Private series, which concerns the world’s largest private security and information agency, and is set in Australia around the Private Sydney headquarters. Kathryn Fox, Patterson’s co-author, is one of Australia’s most critically acclaimed and commercially popular mystery novelists. Many of the books in her Anya Crichton series are available in the United States in various formats; these should be snapped up immediately and read, if her work in MISSING is any indication of the quality of her writing. This is a one-sit, fast-paced read that fully satisfies but nonetheless will leave you wanting more.
"...a one-sit, fast-paced read that fully satisfies but nonetheless will leave you wanting more.... Patterson’s trademark short chapters are on display, and in abundance, as he and Fox demonstrate their storytelling ability at warp speed."
The book is told primarily from the first person viewpoint of Craig Gisto, the head of Private Sydney. We meet Gisto on the eighth anniversary of the worst day of his life, when his wife and young son were killed in an automobile accident. In an illustration that the universe is not cruel, but rather merely indifferent, Gisto receives no respite to reflect on the tragedies of the past. He arrives at Private’s offices to discover that the exterior has been vandalized and their computers are down; the clients waiting for him in his office are difficult and make a request that skirt the borders of legality; and Jack Morgan, Private’s head honcho, has asked him to look into the suspicious disappearance of Eric Moss, the enigmatic CEO of a non-profit named Contigo Valley.
It is the latter case that propels a great deal of what occurs in MISSING. Moss has gone missing after abruptly resigning from the company, which is valued in the billions of dollars (not bad for a non-profit) and known throughout the world. Morgan is a longtime friend of Moss and his daughter, Eliza, who herself runs a high-profile company, Shine Management. Moss’ abrupt resignation is highly uncharacteristic of the man, as is his method of doing so: an email notice, when he eschewed most forms of technological communication. Private gets going on its investigation but soon discovers that background information on Moss is almost entirely non-existent. It is also of interest that practically everything Eliza knows about her father is wrong.
Meanwhile, remember those clients who were waiting in Gisto’s office? They wanted a background check on a potential surrogate mother. Gisto reluctantly agreed to do it, but soon regretted that decision when the surrogate turned up brutally murdered and the infant in her care disappeared. And the couple who requested the vetting? They are in the wind as if they never existed. Gisto needs to find them, and the baby, before it’s too late. The baby, of course, is at risk, and Private’s reputation will soon be in tatters otherwise. Then things get worse…
MISSING moves. Patterson’s trademark short chapters are on display, and in abundance, as he and Fox demonstrate their storytelling ability at warp speed. American readers may experience a bump or two when encountering Australian geography and/or slang, but for the most part the book gives off a southern California vibe, even though it’s set in and around Sydney. This latest (for the U.S.) installment in the Private franchise should attract new readers to the series, and hopefully to Fox as well.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on October 7, 2016