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Friday, September 13, 2013


3 stars out of 5

My just-finished a gin-and-tonic may have put me in a generous mood, but I'm a bit more upbeat about the latest co-authoring effort from James Patterson than others are. At the time of this writing, 93 reviewers had rated the book on, 38 of whom gave it just one star, 11 gave it two and 10 agree with me at three. "The book is simply drivel," one reviewer said. "This was a waste of money to me," said another.

I don't disagree with either one, but unlike a few reviewers, I managed to finish the book - and even look forward, at least somewhat, to learning how things would work out in the end. I admit I had this nagging feeling that I'd be gob-smacked with something akin to the Bob Newhart-Suzanne Pleshette "Newhart" finale, one of the most memorable in TV history (if you don't know what happened, Google it). Although I'm not one to offer spoilers, I will say nothing like that happened here, thank goodness.

This one features Benjamin, the more-than-a-little paranoid and very wealthy owner of an Internet newspaper whose mind tends to wander all over the map - movies, presidential minutia and other trivia. He's also obsessed with a beautiful woman named Diana, who has asked him to install surveillance devices in her apartment while she's gone. As he exits the building, she comes in - only to jump off her sky-high balcony in an apparent suicide while he's still in the neighborhood.

Very soon, though, he begins to realize Diana isn't quite the perfect woman he thought - and trying to find out what really happened puts him in the crosshairs of everyone from the CIA, the Russians, the Chinese and even the U.S. President. Soon, he's convinced he's the target  - even if you're paranoid, after all, it doesn't mean they're not out to get you - and the race begins to see if he can uncover the truth before he gets captured or worse, killed.

At every turn of his motorcycle, bike and even his own head, Ben spouts trivia (usually from movies) - ad nauseum. At first, it helped define his obsessive personality; but very quickly, it turned just plain annoying. By about a third of the way through, I learned to skim over those parts (one reason, no doubt, that I was able to finish the book in short order even with limited spare time). And you know what? When it came to the plot, I didn't miss a thing.

The bottom line? It's readable, but take my advice and borrow it from a library or a friend for free. Even the Kindle version at $12.74 is way too much to pay for this one.

Mistress by James Patterson and David Ellis (Little, Brown and Co., August 2013); 448 pp.

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