While James Patterson has made a name for himself with his BookShots collection—a series of short stories the reader can complete in a few hours—he seems to always be expanding his horizons. Apparently having secured some television rights to a murder-based true-crime show, Patterson has also spun some of the tales into shorter stories, much like the aforementioned BookShots. While I am on my BookShot binge, I thought that I would include at least the first volume in my binge read, as they are short enough to be defined as BookShots, even though they are somewhat fictionalised pieces of true crime. These stories will capture the reader’s attention, more so because they actually happened, with a few fudged facts to provide anonymity. Sit back and enjoy, as Patterson and his two collaborators in these stories show just how far some people will go to harm those closest to them.
Murder, Interrupted (with Alex Abramovich)
Nancy Howard’s been shot gruesomely through the eye with the bullet’s trajectory headed for her brain. The mysterious man who did this is unknown to her, but her first concern is calling out for help. Moving the story backwards a bit, the reader learns of Nancy’s husband, Frank, is a successful accountant with a penchant for having sticking fingers. He’s also having quite the affair, but does not want to divorce his wife, as it might tarnish his image. Frank takes matters into his own hands by hiring a strung-out addict to act as a hitman, but things take many odd turns, leaving Frank wondering if he will ever be rid of his wife, so that he can fully focus on his new life in California. As the story moves forward, the reader sees Frank’s attempts to ensure the hit goes as planned, but Nancy is able to call for help, leading to an investigation and fingers pointing in all directions. Sometimes, allowing the blood to leave the brain for other regions proves fatal for those who concoct revenge plots. Patterson and Abramovich open the collection with this interesting story that will have readers shaking their heads as they fly through the chapters.
Mother of all Murders (with Christopher Charles)
Single mother Dee Dee Blancharde has made quite a name for herself in the Missouri community she now calls home. Her daughter, Gypsy, hands many health concerns and after they were forced out of New Orleans, it was the kindness of the community that helped provide a much needed crutch. When one of Gypsy’s friends receives a disturbing Facebook message, the authorities are called to the house, where Dee Dee is dead and Gypsy is nowhere to be found. As detectives try to piece things together, the reader is permitted a thorough look into the backstory of both Blancharde women, including the countless ailments that Gypsy has suffered over the years. When a link to a dating site proves to be a strong clue to better understand what might have happened to Gypsy, detectives soon realise that there is so much more to the story than meets the eye. Patterson and Charles provide wonderful twists in this story based on actual events. The reader will surely enjoy the build of momentum throughout.
Both of these stories were the perfect fit for this first volume. Murder comes in all shapes and forms, but it is sometimes the glaring errors of the perpetrators that serve as the most entertaining aspect of any story. The key characters from both stories provide wonderful backstories and development throughout their appearances on the printed page. The reader can connect with them, which aids in better understanding the cases and fallout from the criminal acts. While these are true events with a fictional flavour, the stories read well and all characters found herein, while not fleshed out as effectively as in a piece of complete fiction, serve a great purpose and help to accentuate the different angles of the crime. These brief pieces could easily be called BookShots, with their short chapters and the story arc taking only one hundred pages or so. I am eager to tackle the second volume of this collection, though am not sure if I will hunt down the television program, as I like Patterson in small doses (which I am sure I contradict, having almost completed my month-long BookShot binge).
Kudos, Messrs. Patterson, Abramovich, and Charles. Your stories kept me hooked from the beginning and I love how they were presented. Perfectly crafted for an afternoon of reading, much like many of the short stories collaborations Patterson has undertaken.
What books have you owned for a long time but haven’t read yet?
Are you a fan of James Patterson‘s crime novels? If so, you’ll be thrilled to know that his novel Instinct has been turned into a television series that will be premiering on CBS March 18. Here’s what we know about the new James Patterson TV show, including details on the plot, cast, and how it differs from the book.
Instinct is based on Patterson’s 2017 book, originally titled Murder Games. The plot of the show centers on a former CIA agent, Dr. Dylan Reinhart, who comes out of retirement to help the NYPD nab a murderer. Executive producer Michael Rauch described the show as a procedural with “a light tone.”
2. The show stars Alan Cumming in a ground-breaking role.
Cumming, a three-time Emmy nominee, is making history on Instinct by playing the first gay lead character in an hour-long broadcast series. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actor is excited to be striking new ground with his character:
“It was one of the reasons I wanted to do the show. To be the first ever network drama [with a gay lead] on US television, it’s an incredible thing and a terrible thing at the same time. It’s another layer to the character.”
The cast also includes Bojana Novakovic as Dylan’s crime-fighting partner Lizzie Needham, as well as John Mainieri, Michael B. Silver, and Daniel Ings as Dylan’s husband, Andy. An early review from Variety reports that Cumming and Novakovic have “great chemistry” as a crime-solving duo.
3. Patterson is reportedly happy with the adaptation.
Patterson is especially pleased with the casting of Alan Cumming as the lead, telling Deadline:
“It’s great to imagine Alan in the role — there aren’t many stars who can convincingly play drama and comedy with effortless wit, not to mention a musical savant and crime-solving genius.”
4. The TV adaptation is slightly different from the source material.
Some of the characters who are male in Patterson’s novel are female in the TV show. Rauch said that this switch allowed the show to “subvert traditional dynamics.”
5. Patterson serves as one of the show’s executive producers.
Along with Rauch and Patterson, other executive producers include lead actor Cumming, as well as Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin. Kurtzman and Kadin both worked on the shows Sleepy Hollow and Star Trek: Discovery, and Rauch is known for producing the show Beautiful People.
6. This is not the only Patterson adaptation on TV.
CBS’s Zoo, based on another Patterson novel, had three seasons before ending last year. He also produces the true crime series Murder Is Forever, which premiered on Investigation Discovery in January.
What book(s) were you surprised you ended up liking?
I’m not a fan, in real life or fiction, of domineering males, who think they know everything. Aiden, our hero, is arrogant, rude, overbearing, occasionally kind, and veers between treating Cordie like a princess and a prisoner. When she’s injured after an attempt on her life, he holds her in his penthouse, under close guard, for her protection. Sounds okay, right? He’s trying to keep her safe and simultaneously providing medical care for her. But he completely ignores her wishes, refuses to let her leave when she asks, and orders the guards to prevent her from leaving. She’s a competent adult, capable of making her own decisions but you wouldn’t know it by the way he behaves.So most of Aiden’s scenes annoyed me or pissed me off.
Then there’s the chauvinism. I had to keep checking to verify that this was a contemporary story and not from the 50s or 60s or a historical. Several times during the story, when Garwood describes scenes where Aiden is at a meeting or a dinner, only the men conduct business while the women are just eye candy.
From that point on he was distracted by a steady stream of men and women who recognized him. Each man wanted to talk about various projects he just knew Aiden would want to invest in, and each woman simply wanted Aiden.
This occurs several times. WTF? Is this a fantasy world where women don’t engage in business? It’s presented as a contemporary romance but scenes like this pulled me right out and left me wondering when and where this story was occurring.
I wanted to like this story. I did like Cordie, though she was a little too perfect at times, a little too Mary Sue. She and Aiden have been part of this series for years as secondary characters and they finally got their book and their romance. Although there’s been simmering heat between them for a while, when the sex finally happened it, felt too fast and not all that sexy. After the first one, I skipped over the sex scenes.
There’s a ‘mystery’ that wasn’t really a mystery as Garwood telegraphed the identity of the perpetrator early on; I think it was supposed to be a twist but she was too obvious about it. The search for information about Cordie’s mother was interesting and I enjoyed that part of the story. The romance lacked heat and I just didn’t see Aiden’s appeal, other than being rich and good-looking. Yes, Cordie has loved him for a long time but as I said, I just didn’t see it. I did enjoy re-visiting her friends Regan and Sophie and their husbands. There are small inconsistencies, lots of cliches, tired stereotypes, and most of the story was predictable. It felt as if the author simply phoned in the story while sleeping.
Will I continue with the series? Maybe, but doubtful. Your mileage may vary.