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Count to Ten: A Private Novel


Count to Ten: A Private Novel

James Patterson’s Private series consists of what is arguably his most complex concept. Private, run by former Marine Jack Morgan, is a detective agency on steroids, offering power, discretion and connections in a very expensive package with a worldwide reach. While these novels are set in several of the world’s capitals, perhaps none of those featured are as exotic as the Private India books, of which the newly published COUNT TO TEN is a part. Patterson and co-author Ashwin Sanghi combine their considerable talents to produce one of Private’s most intriguing and entertaining installments to date.

COUNT TO TEN takes place primarily in Delhi, India, and opens with a pair of interesting vignettes. The first concerns a murderer, who we later come to know as The Deliverer, in the midst of an execution. The second involves a pair of young lovers whose attempt at a secretive tryst on some private property is interrupted when they literally feel the earth move, resulting in a grisly discovery of decomposing body parts. It develops that the property --- a mansion and its grounds --- is owned by the Indian government, a fact that the powers that be intend to keep quiet for as long as possible. Jack makes a bit of a deal with the devil when he involves Private on the side of one of the warring political parties in the matter, somewhat to the misgiving of Santosh Wagh, the troubled head of Private India.

"The book mixes the political and medical thriller subgenres along plot tracks that intersect each other more often than they parallel."

Though still recovering emotionally from the injuries he had previously sustained in the events documented in PRIVATE INDIA: CITY ON FIRE, Santosh is more familiar with the labyrinthian intrigues of the Indian ship of state than is Jack, and as COUNT TO TEN proceeds, it turns out that Santosh’s doubts are well-placed. Operating the Delhi office with the able assistance of investigator Nisha Gandhe (who has some emotional baggage of her own) and Neel Mehra, a tech geek with unparalleled IT chops, Santosh gradually uncovers a scheme at the highest levels of the Indian government that involves organ harvesting and medical tourism, among other things.

Sanghi is a very capable tour guide, giving an insider’s look at Indian culture and politics that is worth the price of admission all by itself. The plotting is superb, and includes a couple of compelling plot twists about halfway through the book that bring the investigation personally close to home as the hunt for The Deliverer intersects with Private’s own investigation. A word of warning here: the descriptions of The Deliverer’s work are fairly graphic, and in at least one case give new meaning to the term “stomach-turning.” The killer’s nickname is also a clever ironic play on words, which may have been unintentional but probably wasn’t. Private manages to bring matters to a satisfactory conclusion for both cases, but leaves parts of itself scattered along the way, with possible repercussions for future volumes.

As with most Patterson novels in general and the Private collection in particular, there is a lot going on in COUNT TO TEN. The book mixes the political and medical thriller subgenres along plot tracks that intersect each other more often than they parallel. One suggestion for the authors: a glossary of character names would be helpful in upcoming installments. The number of characters and uniqueness (for Western readers) of their names resulted in a slowing down of what otherwise would have been a fast-paced read. However, that quibble is just a minor speed bump in a suspenseful and intriguing novel with which to close out the year.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on November 17, 2017

Count to Ten: A Private Novel
by James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi

  • Publication Date: November 14, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1538759632
  • ISBN-13: 9781538759639