Private Berlin


Private Berlin by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan

Christopher Schneider is an agent with an elite investigation team, Private, at their Berlin office.

Mysteriously, he has disappeared, and his fellow agent and ex-fiancée, Mattie, and the rest of the team are out to find him.

Retracing the days leading up to his disappearance uncovers dark truths about Chris’s childhood, and a past that has come back to haunt him and others.

My Take

When I started this book, I didn’t realize that it was part of a series, and I was a little concerned about continuity.

But this series doesn’t seem to need any continuity. As far as I can understand this series is based in different cities with different people in each book. The common theme is Private which is an elite, international investigation organisation with branches worldwide. And each book in the series is based in a particular city…hence books like Private Berlin, Private London, and so on. Of course, there are a few characters in multiple books but for the most part these books work very well as stand-alone books.

So coming back to Private…it is a detective agency staffed by experts in their fields.
When Private agent Chris Schneider goes missing, his ex-fiancée and current colleague needs to investigate his recent cases and find out why. The suspects range from a soccer player who could be throwing matches, a ruthless and wealthy businessman, and possibly even a serial killer who once worked for the East German Secret Police.

The book starts off with a lot of promise and holds the suspense almost throughout the entire book. Of late, I almost always guess killers very early in the story, but in this one, none of my guesses were correct. So, the surprise factor is definitely high.

The setting and background also contribute to the story. Almost all the characters in the book are people who were born and who grew up in a separated Germany, and they all bring their experiences and memories of the time the wall was broken down to the book. This is the first book I am reading that talks so much about the separation and then unification of Germany and its impact on people and this setting was super-intriguing.

Unfortunately, this is a James Patterson book – he who is the master of the 2-page 115 chapter books, and so I don’t think this book did this setting justice. With a little more depth and a little less clichéd ending, this book could have been very very nice indeed. In spite of these flaws though, the book is decent and it’s much better than some of the other books James Patterson has churned out of late.

I think I will keep an eye out for more Private books by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan.

Huge thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this book to read and review.

  • I haven’t read a perfect thriller for a long time now [or is it never!]. What usually happends is the book will have very good pace, lots of things happening but the end almost always does not live upto the book, sometimes a lot of things are not cleared or fleshed out properly. I read Alex Cross, Run recently. It was decent. In fact, many would have loved it but I felt it could have been better.

    • @Reema: Yes, the quality of thrillers seems to be very up and down lately. I don’t know if you have tried Jo Nesbo’s books? I have read only 2…The Bat which was disappointing and The Snowman which was quite good. Maybe you might enjoy his series. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is also nice…not thriller-esque and the ending is disappointing, but very well-written.

  • I had to drop Patterson some time ago. I’ve mostly read his Alex Cross novels previously. Some have been excellent, but the bad ones have been really awful. Patterson’s name is all over the place now, and with all of these co-writers he has it’s hard to say how much effort is really going into these books (for his part anyway).

    • @MojoFiction: Yes, Patterson can be very predictable, but in this book, I think the secondary author Mark Sullivan has done a pretty good job in keeping things tense and exciting.

  • The setting does sound interesting. Sorry that you didn’t enjoy the book as much. I’ve never read any James Patterson, but I do know that he is “famous” for the short chapters 🙂

    • @Melinda: Seriously, I don’t know why he doesn’t change his style. His books obviously sell well, but the short chapters are ridiculous. He really should stop catering to the lowest common denominator. A little experimentation in writing style wouldn’t be so bad.

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