4 stars out of 5
Hard to believe this is the fifth installment that I've read in Patterson's Private series, and nothing here has changed my opinion that this is the best series he and his various partners are serving up (this one is co-written with Michael White). It's also easy to read; I polished the whole thing off in one day of spare time (admittedly on a Saturday when college football games dominated the TV and I was able to keep one eye on my Kindle Fire and the other on the action). I'll also point out that the last 12% is a three-chapter preview of Burn, the next in his Michael Bennett series that I believe is scheduled for publication a couple of weeks from now (that's Sept. 29, 2014).
For those who don't know, Private is a high-tech, highly successful investigation agency with offices all over the world (hence Private Berlin, Private L.A., etc. In this one, Craig Cristo has formed a new office in Sydney, Australia, with the help of the drop-dead gorgeous and highly experienced Justine, who also happens to be the main squeeze of Jack Morgan, founder/owner of Private. As they throw a big bash to kick off the opening, a young Asian man - complete with bullet holes and a few missing body parts - stumbles onto the scene (pretty much putting the kabosh on the party spirit).
As it turns out, it may have been a kidnapping gone awry, and the man's father (who hates the police) believes it's related to the lucrative world of imported drugs and wants Private to do their thing. That gives the new company some serious business, but as if that weren't enough, a friend of the New South Wales Police Department, turns up brutally murdered. That investigation leads to the discovery that she's not the first - nor is she the last, since more murders start happening in fairly rapid succession.
As with the others in the series, this one is relatively predictable and won't challenge anyone's gray matter - making it perfect for reading on the beach, by a cozy fire or, as in my case, cheering on "my" Ohio State University Buckeyes (and in any case, preferably with a glass of wine in hand).
Private Down Under by James Patterson and Michael White (Grand Central Publishing, August 2014); 368 pp.