You are about to begin one of the classic American novels of suspense by one of the world’s bestselling authors.
It begins with three terrifying murders in the South.
It ends with a relentless and unforgettable manhunt in the North.
In between is the riveting story of a chilling assassin, the woman he loves, and the beloved leader he is hired to kill with extreme prejudice.
~ Synopsis from goodreads
This first book of Patterson’s is interesting in a number of ways. For one, I can’t believe how different this writing style is from his later books. Of course, some trademark motifs such as his super-short chapters are present also in this book. But in other ways, his writing style is very different from his later books.
For one, this book is not as fast-paced as his later books. He spends tons of time describing the setting and the time period (sometime in the 70s). Coming from James Patterson, such detailed and frankly excellent setup is a very unexpected plus. I also love how the dialogues, people’s politics, and general viewpoints reflect that time period so well.
Where the book goes wrong is the haphazard and distracted plot. It moves back and forth in time and place, and from POV to POV, that the beginning was incredibly difficult to figure out. This kind of writing technique does work sometimes if done well, but frankly it’s difficult to do well, and really showed Patterson’s weaknesses as a writer. It’s not a surprise to see that his later books stick to a straight-forward narrative.
I am very surprised that this is the book that won awards, never mind spawned a career that won’t go away. While I liked the setting and the dialogues, the plot itself is weak, and completely borrowed from a certain American President’s assassination. It’s like he put together all the conspiracy theories behind that assassination, simplified the details, and adopted it as a plot device. Just didn’t work in my opinion, and I was quite unimpressed with the derivativeness of this book.
Overall, a very disappointing and forgettable début.
Huge thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me this book for review consideration.
You can also purchase a copy of this book from Amazon