James Patterson


1st to Die


This book may be a record for me.


I have read thousands of books. I have only left handful of them unfinished. I used to somehow feel it was ‘wrong’ not to finish, but after staying with Peter Strawb and Steven King’s ‘The Talisman’ to the bitter end, and realising I’d never get those hours back, since then on rare occasions I’ve been prepared to bail, usually at least a bit after half-way.


But, wow, after just a few pages of this (which meant about ten chapters :), I had hardly any hesitation in saying this book and I needed to part company. I picked the book up, I think, because I confused the name ‘James Patterson’ with ‘Jefferson Parker’ – not something I’ll do again. Where Parker works to create nuanced individuals and deliberately deviates from some conventional plot lines, Patterson somehow dumbs down an already simple formula, both in terms of plot and character. It reminded me of Gimenez’ execrable The Color of Law. It’s almost satire, and deeply insulting to the reader. We need short sentences, tiny chapters, characters carefully trimmed of anything that might have a hint of something beyond slavish stereotype, and something sensational at every page turn (‘She’s got a gun to her head!’, ‘She’s got cancer!’, ‘They were the perfect couple – and brutally murdered!!’ – also amusing getting Patterson’s idea of how the ideal couple would live and talk to each other).


Maybe someone read a bit further and can tell me Patterson was just having fun with this, and a clever turn was just around the corner. But I doubt it, and I wasn’t going to risk it.


September 2013