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Tuesday, February 3, 2015


3.5 stars out of 5

This installment of James Patterson's Private series is a disappointment to me for a couple of reasons. First, it's co-written by Maxine Paetro, my first choice for quality writing in Patterson's stable of helpers - so I had fairly high expectations that, unfortunately, failed to materialize. Second, I've been waiting to see how long it would take for this series to start heading downhill like most of the others - and if this one is an example, I suspect my wait is over. As another reviewer insightfully pointed out, it's not terrible - but neither, IMHO,  is it anywhere near a contender for Book of the Year.

When I started to think about describing the plot, things got really muddled; there are several story lines going at the same time - so which one or two should I highlight? Let's see: Maybe it's the effort to keep an employee of the Private security firm and close friend of Private chief Jack Morgan out of jail; he's on trial but (of course) has been wrongly accused. Maybe it's trying to nail a couple of Las Vegas low-lifes who have diplomatic immunity and thus are able to get away with murder - literally; or maybe it's who will throw the next salvo in Jack's ongoing war with his evil twin, Tommy.

But wait, there's more - oh, never mind, I've forgotten what they are. Truth is, I pretty much gave up way back at the beginning when Jack's on-again, off-again main squeeze Justine revealed a telling tidbit about Jack's personality to one of his friends. Hey, sweetheart, you're a professional psychologist. Even if I couldn't nail you for a breach of confidence, I'd throw you out on your ear faster than you can say Ph.D.

As usual, several issues raised here, including Jack's feud with his brother and his relationship with the talkative and apparently fickle Justine, don't get resolved - no doubt an attempt to lure readers to the next installment. I haven't decided whether I care enough about any of the characters to tackle it, but most likely I will. All things considered, a bad Patterson book, generally speaking, still beats some of the other drivel that's out there. And besides, the book consultants include two from Trumbull County, Ohio (where I live): Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, medical examiner and coroner, and Chuck Hanni, a certified fire investigator, both of whom probably can be considered "regulars." If nothing else, I'm gonna stick up for the local boys!

Private Vegas by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Little, Brown and Co., January 2015); 385 pp.

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