Thursday 26 April 2018

Inside the Patterson machine – where the thrills come thick and fast

Myles McWeeney

Former advertising executive James Patterson is the most prolific and most successful thriller writer of all time, best known for his Alex Cross mysteries. The American has published more than 100 books and clocked up more than 300 million copies in worldwide sales in 38 languages and is estimated to be earning between $80m and $100m a year.

He aims to publish 10 books annually, and at any one time is likely to have up to 35 projects in hand in various stages of development in his office, which is based in his $17.5m home in Florida that he shares with his wife and 15-year-old son.

It wasn't always so easy. His first published thriller, The Thomas Berryman Affair, written while he was CEO of the giant J Walter Thompson advertising agency, was rejected by 31 publishers before it was accepted.

The key to his astonishing level of productivity is the fact that Patterson works closely with a small army of collaborators, many of whom are established authors in their own right. Among these are Maxine Paetro, with whom he developed the successful Women's Murder Club series, prolific Swedish writer Elizabeth Marklund, Irish-American thriller writer Michael Ledwidth, and in the case of Patterson's newest offering, Second Honeymoon, Howard Roughan, who, like Patterson and Maxine Paetro, comes from an advertising background.

In Second Honeymoon Manhattan-based suspended FBI agent John O'Hara is asked by a wealthy businessman to investigate the murder of his son and new daughter-in-law on their honeymoon in the Turks and Caicos Islands. When another couple are similarly and mysteriously dispatched, O'Hara fears a deranged killer is at work.

Meanwhile, in another part of the country, special agent Sarah Brubaker is investigating another twisted serial killer who is targeting men who possess the same Christian name and surname as the US president's ne'er-do-well brother-in-law.

As the stakes get higher in each separate investigation, O'Hara and Brubaker's paths inexorably begin to merge and they must work together if they wish to survive. Skilfully rendered, high-octane, light summer entertainment featuring two likeable central characters.

Myles McWeeney

Irish Independent

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