MISSING ( A PRIVATE NOVEL ), James Patterson

A TV detective show without the insufferable commercials.

Missing, c0-written by James Patterson and Kathryn Fox, is an entertaining bit of fluff. Easy reading, entertaining as a TV show and forgettable after the last page has been turned.

Co-written novels are usually low on my list I want to read. This distaste began after I was reading another of Tom Clancy’s novels and had this nagging feeling that I was not reading a regular Clancy novel. As it turned out, it was one of Clancy’s works co-written with one of his writing team.

Here’s how I see it. Clancy was selling better than hotcakes and his publisher wanted to take advantage of the popularity but the author could only turn out new works after slogging away at his keyboard for weeks. Not fast enough in the eyes of the publisher. So the idea of getting others in on the writing act using Clancy as the mentor, the guiding hand, the manager and director. Voila, more books were written at a much faster rate. The only problem is that the co-writer’s style differs from the master and often, quite noticeably. But profit trumps polished prose and thus was born the Clancy-co-writer collaboration.

Sometimes collaboration as above can work. It does with Missing but most likely does because I am not familiar enough with Patterson’s work to recognize any deviation in style from the original author. With Clancy, I could recognize the alternate style. Stephen King fans would like spot deviation from the author’s style in a blink. Now King is an amazingly prolific writer and seems to author all his named works himself. Most likely, he dictates rather than types his writing to get it out faster. Speed is money.

Still Missing was an enjoyable read. It is a well written, easy read and the collaboration seems to be successful as the finished product is polished and professional.

Craig Gisto has promised Eliza Moss that his elite team at Private Sydney will investigate the disappearance of her father. After all, as CEO of a high-profile research company, Eric Moss shouldn’t be difficult to find.

Except it’s not just the man who’s gone missing. Despite the most advanced technology at their disposal, they find every trace of him has vanished too.

And they aren’t the only ones on the hunt. Powerful figures want Moss to stay “lost,” while others just as ruthlessly want him found.

Meanwhile, a routine background check becomes a frantic race to find a stolen baby and catch a brutal killer – a killer Private may well have sent straight to the victim’s door . . .

Richard’s comments
The story line stretches believability in that the missing person seems to have been erasing all evidence of his existence not only for a very long time, but also, in every nook and cranny of the world, be it birth hospital, to passport documentation, to driver’s license. It’s a stretch but the subplot dealing with surrogate pregnancies and infant kidnapping is exciting and suspenseful.

What I enjoyed most about the book was tweezing out the parts which dealt with Australia, some very obvious and blatant, but others much less so and more subtle. It was fun to read vocabulary which would be day-to-day parlance down under but which is alien to a north American. This aspect of the writing just makes the reading that much more fun.

It’s a good story, well written and engagingly entertaining.

A 3 1/2 stars out of 5, for certain.

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