Hope To Die by James Patterson




Is there an editor in the house?…   *

So how many books does an author get to write before editors ignore their work and just put it out there?  Obviously, James Patterson hit that number a long time ago.

I have read all of the Alex Cross books.  I used to read the Women’s Murder Club books until they became writing by formula. I refuse to read the books co-authored by him after the first one, they are terrible.  Now I ask myself, am I going to give up on Alex Cross?

Hope to Die is the continuation of Cross My Heart, which was atrocious.  There are so many holes in this story that it should have been called, No Hope, Dead.  Besides the flaws in police procedure, the under-played reaction of Cross to his situation and the total predictability of the story, there are too many facts that are just wrong.  An example, Patterson describes Cross as “six feet two inches with a thirty inch reach”.  I am only five feet eleven inches and I have a thirty five inch reach without stepping up on my toes.

So as not to reveal anything that might spoil the book for anyone who has not read it, I am going to stick to the flaws in the editing that make this a terrible read.

Patterson begins one chapter by describing “three birches that grew close together”.  Hello, that is how birches are, planted three together, which everyone already knows.  In that same chapter he says, “the dog went to the stove and lay down by the stove”.  I didn’t think he went to the stove and lay down by the TV!  In one chapter he tells us the alias used by the antagonist has shown up seven times in a internet search, a few chapters later he tells us this again.

The worst part of bad writing/non-editing is the chapter dealing with Alex Cross having to kill someone at the direction of Marcus Sunday (the antagonist).  This chapter is written in first person so we are in Alex’s head.  Okay so maybe I need to say spoiler alert here.  We know and Alex knows that his killing is an act, but the thoughts in his head are portrayed as if they are.  NO!  Alex would not be having the emotions and physical response Patterson gives us knowing he is faking a killing.

The icing on the cake, however, is the character Ava.  In Alex Cross Run she is African American.  “It was a young woman, African American.  Ava’s height and build.”   In this book she is white.  “I guess it wasn’t often they saw  a big African American male in his forties traveling with a seventeen-year-old white girl…”

If all of this were not bad enough, the ending is lame.  For two books we have had a methodical, diabolical killer who is meticulous in his planning.  He would not have put himself in the situation that he does to end this story.

James Patterson is a prolific writer and he used to be a good one.  It is sad to see that all change.

This one gets one star.

Mr. Fix It (A Short Story) by Noel Thomas Fiems

FIX    Short but not sweet….

This is an emotional, unnerving story of a father’s struggle after the death of his son.  Fiems captures the mental anguish a man would go through and how his loss affects those around him.

This covers all the key elements for a short story.  The characters are strong, the plot holds true, the conflict is major, and the resolution is believable.  The twist at the end is not so much a surprise as it is a study in human nature.

This is the type of story that makes you ask, “What would I do in this situation?”.  Although a short story, it is one that gives you pause, and taps into emotions you hope you never have to experience.

fourgolfpencils2This is a four golf pencil story for sure.

A Most Wanted Man

five cigars

Five cigars



Once in a blue moon, and even less often, a movie comes along that reminds me of just how good a film can be.  A film without car chases, explosions, or seedy jokes.  This is definitely one.

In the tradition of films like Three Days of The Condor, this is an intelligent, well written, well acted, espionage story.  Sadly, it was Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last movie, and his performance should get him an Oscar nomination.  He plays the part of a spymaster that has been “banished” to Hamburg after a prior failure in Beirut.  His acting is superb.

The other characters in this film are played masterfully.   William DaFoe sounds and looks like a German banker.  Rachel McAdams is excellent as the naive lawyer caught up in a plot she had not bargained for.  The rest of the supporting cast helps to make you forget that you are watching actors, a point that for me always signifies a good movie.  Robin Wright, whom most of us know from  House of Cards, plays the part of an arrogant CIA operative who…  to say any more than that might give something away.

If films that make you think, or that challenge your brain power bother you, then this is not a film for you to see.  If you like to watch actors at the top of their craft, stories that are intelligently written, and endings that make you say, “Wow”, then this is one you won’t want to miss.

This gets five cigars and a match!!


The Wolf in Winter: A Charlie Parker Thriller by John Connolly



A cut above….  *****


John Connolly is a superb author.  Comparing him to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, or Lee Child is like comparing a diamond to lumps of coal.  Although he writes thrillers, Connolly’s style is literary.  He weaves a story masterfully and never disappoints.  The Wolf in Winter continues the saga of Charlie Parker and maintains Connolly’s reputation as a great writer.

Through fiction one can sometimes learn new facts about life and at times discover new ways to express what we already know.  Connolly has a distinct way of expressing the plight of the homeless in this story that did not tell me anything I did not already know, but illustrated  it in a way I had not thought about before.  He does the same with discussing domestic violence.  But these are only side bars in the novel.

The story traces Charlie Parker and his effort to follow up on a request from a dead man, who was never able to ask Charlie for his services.  This leads Parker to a confrontation with a town whose foundation is not only evil ,but beneath lies an even greater menace.  Parker’s friends, Louis and Angel, are an integral part of the story, and to say any more might spoil it.

One caveat.  Do not read this book if you have not read the previous Charlie Parker novels.  To gain the full appreciation for how Parker ticks and his relationship with Louis and Angel, you need the background the other novels provide.  To grasp the conflict between Parker and the Collector, the war against the Believers, and the relationship to the Backers without this background is futile.

This is a five star read for sure.