by James Patterson. Century Publishing. 2011.

Book Review

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In this ever decreasing global community, things seem to be moving at quite a pace. Nevermore so in evidence, than the work of James Patterson, celebrated creator of the Alex Cross character immortalised by Morgan Freeman in the films Kiss The Girls and Along Came A Spider.

Patterson, a long term advocate for literacy (especially in children) has used his muscle as a best-seller to collaborate with up and coming authors in dual efforts. This means Patterson can keep releasing books under his marquee name whilst maintaining his work to get children reading from an early age.

Private London, is a spin off of a new franchise Patterson created with Maxine Paetro, on this occasion his co-author is Mark Pearson - it tells the tale of a private detective agency in London, a spin-off of the Los Angeles agency set up by the erstwhile Jack Morgan. In London, the head of Private is former Royal Military Police Sergeant Dan Carter, imagine Jason Statham but with an ability to string a sentence together without a grunt or monosyllabic shrug.

The book revolves around two kidnappings, involving the same family, the Shapiros from Los Angeles.  We flashback initially to a date in 2003, when Hannah Shapiro's mother is kidnapped, held for ransom, raped in front of her and the ransom is never paid by her billionaire father, Harlan.  Flash forward to 2010, and Hannah is about to start studying Psychiatry at Chancellors in London, Morgan contacts Carter to be Hannah's personal protection during her stay in our homeland.

Then to the relative present day, and another kidnapping takes place this time with Hannah the target.  However, with this being a Patterson thriller, nothing or anyone is ever what they seem - with the threat of crosses, double crosses and triple crosses always in place.

Carter and his team are on the case, but Carter has his own backstory with his ex-wife DI Kirsty Webb on the case from the legitimate standpoint for the Police; it is never made out that Private are secret just a private detective agency with unlimited financial resources that put the Metropolitan Police to shame.

There is a common theory regarding the success of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code - not that it was about the conspiracy theory, but because the chapters were short and punchy.  Four to five pages that were of narrative significance and sustained a sense of purpose by including a moment of incidence or thrill.  Private London puts Brown's books to shame, chapters of sometimes two pages in length means there is always something to keep you gripped.  This novel was swallowed up in two days of page turning wonderment.

Whilst an American writer taking on London is not out of place, you need only look at Jeffrey Deaver's recent Bond novel, you can see why Mark Pearson was required.  Pearson must have helped with the geographical element of locations from the difference of Metropolitan and Jubilee Line to identifying Amersham in Buckinghamshire.

The dialogue is the key to the page-turning, snappy and in combination with constant action and violence; however it never gets to the stage of parodying itself, although characters do refer to watching television programmes and it being nothing like the real thing.  Characters are also self-knowing of what to say next,( 'Ready?' he asked. I nodded, resisting the impulse to say I was born ready.) straight talking guys who get to the point.

The only drawback was the other case revolving missing fingers in the book, whilst dealt with care and suggestion, that plotline gets kind of forgotten about once the kidnapping of an American princess takes centre stage.  Patterson has that ability to render your full attention in what he exactly thinks you should pay attention to.

For fans of Patterson's novels, of which there are 1,698,671 on Facebook at last count, this is a definite positive addition to his back catalogue and the enticing anticipation of a sequel with a brilliantly constructed reunion at the end means Private London is open for business and it is booming.

Private London is released on Thursday 9th June in Hardback by Century Publishing for £18.99 and is 368pages.
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Jamie Garwood

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