Friday, March 15, 2013

Private by James Patterson—a Book Review

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Every detective story relies upon either a mind that concocts something disastrous, unacceptable to the social, moral and ethical codes or a person simply missing. The detective’s job would be to chalk out this enemy and bring out the complete picture of their antagonism through the investigation. That is where detectives come in. They often carry away the credit of the game and not the villains.

Private is the first in James Patterson’s new series of novels featuring ‘world’s most exclusive detective agency’, taken up and rebuilt by Jack Morgan. Patterson co-authored this book with Maxine Paetro, who worked with him in 1st To Die, the first book in another series titled, “women’s murder club”, a very disappointing book in terms of its plot.

Maxine Paetro
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What makes Private special among other ‘detective novels’, is that it has no such poignant antagonists. The story rallies through the personal dilemmas and agonies of the characters, which presents them tangible. The main characters do not appear stock characters in usual detective stories, which is an advantage of this book. His characters are not as ‘real’ as Holmes, but they do appear human and vulnerable, sometimes, a lot.  

Jack Morgan and his ‘Private Investigations’ do not rely on deduction method, like Sherlock Holmes, the classic investigator. Instead they use analytical method, with the help of state of the art scientific equipments and brilliant analysts. Jack Morgan is not alone in Private agency to solve crimes, but he has assistants too, like Justine Smith, Rick Del Rio, and Emilio Cruz.

Private Investigations takes up three complicated issues in the book—match fixing in American football, a series of murder of young girls, and the murder of Jack’s best friend’s wife.

Jack’s character is a millionaire play-boy type, with a narcissistic trait. But these shades in his character are blurred due to the overwhelming impact of the devastating near-death experience during the combat in Afghanistan. The novel begins with this particular event and makes its readers expect some heavy mortar smell and all, but disappointingly so. The memories of this event, even though he survived it, haunt Jack throughout.

Many women enter Jack’s life and many leave. This, doesn’t however, leave a deeper impact upon him when compared with the mortal combat episode. From each of the women Jack receives respect and friendship, adding charms to his otherwise lonely life, thereby projecting his own remarkable qualities back to himself. Isn’t this one of the secret narcissistic instincts that makes him follow the path of admiring feminine company?

He shows the tendency to leave the company of any woman he is close with thinking marriage would be disastrous, like his parents’. Here, one might think Jack’s compass turns only to himself, prioritizing himself at various angles and dimensions. Still, not entirely true. When Jack hears about the news of suicidal attempt from Colleen, his latest girlfriend, he rushes to the hospital. Colleen took the decision to end her life when she realizes Jack has negative feelings about marriage. Jack is seen broken and ashamed of his own lack of direction in this scene.
James Patterson
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Jack also appears to be apprehensive of the need to help his twin brother Tom Morgan, a gambler, by paying off his debt and admitting him to a de-addiction centre.   

Justine Smith’s character is another links the story of Jack with the serial killer of school girls. She investigates the case. Justine’s has many similarities with Jack. Both Justine and Jack seems to occupy the major portion of their lives with their familial worries and wounds inflicted upon their minds from the past. What makes Justine different is her emotionally charged attitude towards the school-girl killer. Both Jack and Justine come together whenever they need each other and this is not just due to the fact that they both work for Private, but also because they were betrothed to each other as engaged partners in the past, before Jack met Colleen and Justine met Bobby Petino, a prominent attorney. After this, for jack and Justine, relationship became impossible. This part of the story is told by the characters and narrated through their memories.

It is also important to note Jack’s attitude towards his father, the founder of Private original. The senior Morgan appears at the start of the novel, “serving life for extortion and murder” in California State Prison at Corcoran.  Jack, with all his self-centred righteousness and “hero business”, has no good feelings towards his old father. For senior Morgan, Jack is his own reflection. However, in jacks’ mind, the old man is just a “narcissistic SOB”.

Scarlett Johansson
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Then, Morgan senior hands ‘Private’ over to Jack. This book is the starting point of the all the Private series. The next book after Private is Private London, which is already released. The agency has branches all over the world and so it is quite possible to set the story anywhere. A recently announced Private India is another in the series.
Private has all the necessary James Patterson ingredients in it—short chapters, mundane language, allusions to pop culture, TV shows, personalities, songs, etc. In Private, it is mostly Hollywood with special appearance such as Harrison Ford and Scarlett Johansson.   

Maxine Paetro’s presence is visible mostly in a vague byline under the label of James Patterson. This is the common destiny seen with many co-authors in the James Patterson books. Still, like every good brand, the Patterson brand delivers all its basic promises.
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Tom Morgan rebels against Jack, but he is not ‘elevated’ to the status of a serious antagonist such as Prof. James Moriarty. And the other baddies are not much capable either. This is why, perhaps, Private, is only good for the bus stops and airport sojourns. Since, it is always those antagonists that play their wicked roles torturously perfect to make the heroes’ struggles worth fighting for. 

This book review is sponsored by


GANESH said...
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