I love potboilers. They were among the first adult novels I read for fun, and while I happily acquire and read more literary works, my attitude is that if you are not reading for the pleasure of taking in a good story that’s well-told, then you should be doing something else with your time. Or at least I should.
This brings us to NYPD RED, the new collaborative effort between James Patterson and Marshall Karp. The title refers to a special unit of the NYPD assigned to protect the richest and most famous of those individuals within the borders of the city of New York at any given moment. The primary narrator is a member of that semi-secret unit, Detective Zach Jordan. Jordan’s new partner, assigned at the very last minute, is Kylie MacDonald. With a name like that and in a book like this, you would expect her to be gorgeous --- and you would be right. Zach and Kylie have a past together, and Kylie presently has a husband. Zach isn’t quite over her, even though their history is 10 years or so ago, but the husband puts Kylie off limits for him --- well, more or less.
"Though the book is complete in itself, there are plenty of interesting characters who could carry this as a series for as long as Patterson and Karp will want it to go. If indeed that will be the case, I would like to see more installments sooner than later."
The meat of the book is provided by the villain of the piece, known to himself as The Chameleon. As you might guess from his moniker, The Chameleon is an actor, and he has an ax to grind with Hollywood directors that takes several different forms, particularly when New York is the site of “Hollywood on the Hudson,” a week-long event organized for the purpose of showing Tinseltown filmmakers that all of the sets and locales for their projects that they could possibly want are right in midtown Manhattan. The Chameleon moves right through this crowd like a wolf through a flock of sheep, poisoning this one and involving that one in an “accidental” shooting. He makes all of this happen in one day, before lunch. Zach is “Six” to Kylie’s “One” (the origin of the nicknames is predictable, but still fun), and are on the job, but playing catch-up.
While the reader is reasonably certain that they will be successful in, well, catching up before the last page is read, one is put in the mind of St. Augustine’s famous prayer in which he asks for chastity: make it happen, but not right away. In the case of NYPD RED, there is simply too much fun --- in the form of inventive murder, sex, chemistry, investigation, more murder, more sex, and the like. Potboiler? Yes. Wonderfully told? Indeed.
NYPD RED ends --- in a different way than one might suppose --- with the promise of more stories (or at least one) and potential complications. Though the book is complete in itself, there are plenty of interesting characters who could carry this as a series for as long as Patterson and Karp will want it to go. If indeed that will be the case, I would like to see more installments sooner than later. And if a fast-paced, book-length tale isn’t enough, NYPD RED also includes an advance look at MERRY CHRISTMAS, ALEX CROSS, mere weeks before the premiere of the new, imaginatively titled Alex Cross film. What more could a Patterson fan reasonably ask for?
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on October 12, 2012