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Novel set in California (crime from a “brilliant storyteller”)

1st September 2014

Unlucky 13 by James Patterson, novel set in California.

IMG_2416James Patterson has done it again – or so would say the people who’ve actually read him and know about his brilliance top to bottom. I have not, but as far as I can tell, he has earned his reputation by a good combination of excellent story arches, good penmanship, and, in the case of a series like The Women’s Murder Club, an experienced eye for fine collaborators.

Truth be told, I kept putting off writing this review time and time again, because, how can someone who’s just beginning her literary career write a review on a novel by one of the great masters of crime-writing? How can I, who picked up this book because of Patterson’s intriguing guest-starring in one of my favourite crime shows ever, match up to his prestige? Happily, a few weeks after finishing Unlucky 13, I found the way: I have to tell it like it is, just as I always do. This means pointing out the pros and cons, and I will start by what I have already established above.

Pro: he has my full respect as a brilliant storyteller and plot deviser; every turn of the page will give way to many turns of the story, be assured, and that will mean the reader might not want to put the book down for a long, long time (be it dawn, be it dinner-time, one might find themselves only stopping when the basic needs of humans call out). That the story develops in San Francisco and moves around a bit to make way for secondary story-arches is magnificent, from the depiction of The Golden Gate to the Aurora Borealis, passing by an unused cottage in a remote corner of a forest. Each character’s reaction to their surroundings makes it easy for the reader to set themselves in the character’s shoes and look at the world through their eyes. The change of point of view is majestically achieved, to play into each one of their psyches, and brings out the humanity in each of them with flair and sparkle.

Con: I did not like a lot of the language, or rather the expression used… I will point out that I liked the characters quite a lot, what disagreed with me was the overwhelming need to express in every page how much they loved their husbands, children, dogs, friends, drinks, houses, cars, shoes, socks, pens and bubblegum… I am a woman, I know how it is to want to express love for something, but it went on for far too long in the book, to the point of making me feel that I was reading flowery chick-lit instead of crime fiction. That was probably the intention, and as I have said about other books (which were actually chick-lit), some people might like it, some people might not, so that is up to every reader to decide.

If what I’ve said about the overuse of flowery-female expressionism doesn’t put you off and you go for this book, you’re in for a treat; in the end, it really does not take away any of the quality of the story, nor from the wrenching sense of running around with amazing female cops/law-type figures from California to Alaska in every kind of scary situation. If what a reader needs is an adrenaline rush, this is a good book to grab, probably one of the best I’ve read for that purpose, hands down.

And if you’re completely disregarding everything I have said here because you are a Patterson fan since forever and ever, then kudos to you for picking such a great crime-writing master to be a fan of…

Either way, enjoy!

Sandra for the TripFiction Team. You can follow Sandra on Twitter and the latest from her blog

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  1. User: Leila Benhamida

    Posted on: 28/12/2014 at 7:49 pm

    Thank you for the review. Looking forward to start reading it. I am a big fan of Patterson work.