4 stars out of 5
Ever since hearing about prolific author James Patterson's "BookShots" project, I've wanted to check out a sample. The concept, as I understand it from reading a couple of articles on the subject, is to produce thrillers that sell for $4.99 and are no longer than 150 pages. Some are written by Patterson alone and others, like this one, will be joint efforts with co-authors.
From my own perspective, I truly believe book publishing, as I've known it for most of my life, is in a state of tremendous flux; hardcover versions, in fact, may well be in their death throes. So it is that I look with interest at any efforts to generate more sales. Several of my favorite authors appear to be trimming the length of their books and, in some cases, lowering the prices accordingly. Others are writing "prequels," or short stories/novellas designed to whet readers' appetites for the real thing. Just about everybody touts free sample chapters, often including them at the end of their other books.
BookShots fits into the any old-port-in-a-book-selling storm trend quite nicely (though to be fair, Patterson says one of the primary purposes is to target people who prefer books that can be read in one sitting and/or those who don't normally read much at all). In any event, when Amazon made this one available at no cost, I jumped at the chance.
And I must say I'm impressed. Since I didn't start it until late one evening I wasn't able to finish before my usual bedtime, but an hour or so the following day was all it took. The story revolves around a family (mom, dad and two children) who have been stashed away in a safe house because at least one of them discovered a secret that likely will get them killed - any minute now. New details and background about how they got into the mess (and who might be after them) is revealed in each chapter, building up to an action-packed conclusion. Suffice it to say there's precious little extraneous material here; short, sweet and to the point is the name of the game.
For anyone interested, there are a number of other BookShots out there, including on popular Patterson series' like Alex Cross, Women's Murder Club and Zoo (visit BookShots.com or Amazon.com to check them out). As for me, especially since I enjoyed this one so much, I'm going to try those I mentioned as well simply because I'm very familiar with the original books. In short (pun intended), BookShots looks to be a novel idea (another pun intended) that's likely to do very well. Time will tell!
The Witnesses by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois (BookShots, July 2016); 136 pp.