Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Literally the Best Reviews: The 17th Suspect

The 17th Suspect -- James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Little, Brown & Company
368 Pages

I swore after reviewing the The 15th Affair by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro that I would not review another James Patterson book. I’ve already broken that vow with my review of The President is Missing, Patterson’s book with former President, Bill Clinton. And here I go again with another review from that author.

If you’ve read my reviews of James Patterson, you know that I’m not a big fan of James Patterson the Author, although I am a big fan of James Patterson the Businessman. The guy has sold over 375 million books with his name plastered across it, even if he barely wrote any of them. He also hosts a writing clinic, which I think is ironic considering he barely writes any of his own books. Still, he’s got a great business mind, raking in millions each year.

The 17th Suspect is the latest in the Women’s Murder Club, this time written by Maxine Paetro. Lindsay Boxer is back on the search for another killer in San Francisco. This time it’s a serial killer who is taking out homeless people. At the same time, her friend, Yuki, is trying a case where a woman has raped a man. These are two separate stories being told concurrently with no connection other than the friendship between Boxer and Yuki.

As Boxer and her partner, Brady, chase leads across the city, Yuki must try to win her case despite an overwhelming mistrust of her client. As for the Boxer storyline, it’s the same storyline we’ve had for the last sixteen books. Just change the names, and you know exactly what you’re getting. Someone dies, and it must be determined who the murderer is. Of course, it is a unique twist to the suspect’s identity. It was a twist that gave me a bit of a surprise, which was a bit unusual. I actually liked that plot twist.

Yuki’s storyline is the highlight of the book. What happens when a man accuses a woman of rape? In the #metoo era, this is a very telling plot. In our world today, an accusation is the same as a guilty verdict. Immediately, mob mentality takes over and the women accused receives death threats, loses her position at work, and gets hushed whispers about her as she passes people. But what happens when the accusation is simply a ploy to discredit? That genie can never be put back into the bottle.

It is unfortunate that this part of the plot was not more fleshed out. In typical James Patterson style, the whole book is minimalist, and the message suffers for it. With the market that Patterson has cornered, he could have really delivered a condemnation of our social atmosphere right now. In my opinion, that is the biggest failing of this book. Patterson is apathetic to his audience. For him, it seems like it’s all business rather than an art.

Typically, a Patterson character is a wooden, two-dimensional thing that the reader must work at filling out in his mind. While there is nothing wrong with making the reader do a little work, Patterson doesn’t reward us with any riveting plot points, either. These works are formulaic and cliched. The reader knows exactly what they’re getting when they crack a James Patterson book.

So, why do I read these books? Call it a guilty pleasure. Whenever I feel the need to accomplish something in my reading life (like when I’m in a dry spell), I pick up a James Patterson book. These books are super easy to read, and I can finish them in a matter of a couple of hours. They’re not exactly mentally taxing. On the plus side, if you’re not a big reader, this is a great book to get you into real reading. I guess you could say that a James Patterson book is a gateway book to the harder, better books out there waiting to be read.

Aside from all that, when I picked up the book, the entire back cover was plastered with James Patterson’s mug. Meanwhile, Maxine Paetro is nowhere to be found. She has a three sentence bio inside the back cover. I’d like it much better if the publisher would give Paetro more credit, like with her own photo. Give credit where it’s due.

Craig Bacon loves to read. He reads a lot. He knows a James Patterson book is going to be a quick, easy read on a busy day that you want to get some pages in.