Private Games, the new release from James Patterson with Mark Sullivan in the co-captain’s seat, is an engaging, predictable and all-around James Patterson-y novel.
The story centers around the British division of Private, the security firm that Patterson has built his recent series around, which has been tasked with securing the 2012 London Olympic Summer Games. Peter Knight, a Private employee and widowed father of two disgustingly sweet (yet somehow also unbelievably awful) toddlers, finds he has his hands full with a madman calling himself “Cronus.”
Cronus, along with his three female “Furies,” is bent on destroying the London Olympics by killing anyone involved in the Games who he believes to have corrupted the Olympic spirit. Cronus both thinks himself an instrument of the gods (the gods of Mount Olympus, of course), and also believes that anyone who sees himself as God-like deserves to die (no real explanation for how he manages both of those theories at once). Can Knight stop Cronus before he extinguishes the Olympic flame forever?!
Like I said, the novel was engaging, however before the Olympics start there is already a death toll of around 6 people, with one athlete dying during the opening ceremonies. I understand the point of building tension, but it’s completely implausible that the Olympics wouldn’t have been shut down then and there until Cronus was caught. No, the Olympics actually go on and the body count rises to include 5 more deaths and a maiming, and still the book’s climax comes at the closing ceremonies in which our antagonist dons both brownface and blackface to pull off his scheme, like some crazier and less handsome Roger Sterling.
There is also a distracting degree of name-dropping while the narrator is listing off the number of British musical talents who perform at the Games (again, why wouldn’t their agents have yanked them?). Of course it’s no one recent — it’s a who’s who of the 1970s including The Rolling Stones, The Who, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Marianne Faithful, Eric Clapton and more. Sure, they probably are slated to play at the Games, and if they aren’t, they were probably asked. But I’m fairly certain it wasn’t crucial to the plot to mention every musical number performed, especially when there can’t have covered more than 5 or 6 of the actual Olympic events.
To highlight the pointlessness, I give you this gem:
[The Closing Ceremonies] had originally been planned as a celebration as joyous as the opening ceremonies had been before the death of the American shot-putter. But organizers had tweaked the ceremony in light of the murders, and made it more somber and meaningful by enlisting the London Symphony Orchestra to back Eric Clapton, who delivered a heart-wrenching version of his song “Tears in Heaven.”
As opposed to that really up-beat, kicky way he usually plays it — with the fat guitar solo in the middle.
Also, anyone for a hilarious stereotype?
“Knight held his ribs, still struggling for air as the Rasta taxi driver took off after the black cab, which was several blocks ahead by now, turning hard onto Pont Street, going west. “I catch her, mon!” the driver promised.”Dat crazy one tried to kill you.”
And then this head-scratching threat:
“Get away from my son, you war-criminal bitch, or I will head-shoot you and enjoy it.”
At least he’s specific. She’s mistaken if she thinks he’ll just arm-shoot her or something. No, he’s going right for the head-shot.
In short, it’s a James Patterson novel. 3/5.