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What know you of James Patterson?

09:58 UK time, Friday, 6 February 2009

After a successful deployment of the Monitor meta-brain in helping less literary minded readers appreciate the magic of John Updike, another author appears on the radar... James Patterson, the most borrowed author from British libraries.

James PattersonAdmittedly, Patterson (right) has never commanded the admiration of the literati quite in the way Updike did, but while his work is known to many, it remains a mystery to others. In fact, plenty will have never even heard of him.

But anyone who has read a James Patterson book is cordially invited to sprinkle a little elucidation dust on these pages. In short, help those readers uninitiated in the Patterson cult, by telling us something about his work.

Send responses using the comments box/button immediately below.


  • Comment number 1.

    James Patterson is more than an author - he is a multi-series author. I'm one of the people who love is "Alex Cross" books, but can't stand the other series he has written.

    Alex Cross is a US Detective who lives in Washington. The books are written in the first person, effectively as Alex writting a la Murder She Wrote. Alex tells the story of serial killers that he has his partner (Sampson) tackle in Washington and beyond. The stories are interwoven with Alex's children, his grandmother (who plays a central focal point) and his lovers.

    Alex rises through the ranks from his first book (Along Came a Spider) through to his most recent books (Cross Country).

    The focus moves from Washington PD to FBI and back and forth throughout the novels.

  • Comment number 2.

    Also - for ease, see Along Came a Spider or Kiss the Girls, both staring Morgan Freeman in the title role, and both which give an idea of the gritty nature of the books.

  • Comment number 3.

    James Patterson novels are like crack. There's not a lot of substance in them, but they do give you a quick buzz and are difficult to put down once you've started. They're perfect for getting rid of a train journey.

    Alex Cross books are best described as Jerry Bruckheimer movie, in a book. Cross always wins at the end, there's a load of mindless action, there's some moralistic point that's beaten into your skull. The chapters are always nice and short, because you can't digest that there might be two scenes within the same chapter, that are written in first or third person. I think I saw a really long chapter of one and a half pages once.

    Oh and the violence is not really that violent, sure gruesome things happen, but since he knocks out 7 or 8 books a year, he never has time to detail the violence carefully, so you just kind of gloss over it.

    And Alan Titchmarsh's awards are not safe, when James Patterson writes about sex.

  • Comment number 4.

    Patterson writes nice comfortable very easy to read novels. Short chapters and simple plot progression make him accessible to pretty much anybody capable of reading a book.

    Ever read Hary Potter? amazed at how easily you fly over the pages, almost oblivious to the fact that you are actually reading anything? That's much the same as you get with Patterson.

    I'm not particularly a fan of his works, but the rest of my family, who don't read as much as I do, all love him.

  • Comment number 5.

    I tried to read one of James Patterson's books once, but found the overly-simplistic style and lack of any discernable substance too off-putting to let me continue.

    I am not any kind of literary snob, but I have been really shocked at how many of the very popular books ('train books' as I think of them, because I see so many people reading them on the train) seem to suffer the same flaws.

    There is no real surprise, nothing to work out, no compellingly realistic characters or plausible sounding dialog, nothing to get your mental teeth into....

    Still, it works in the movies, right??

    Certainly these authors need not concern themselves with my opinions, but instead concentrate, quite rightly, on their legions of fans.

  • Comment number 6.

    I've read a few Patterson books.

    They're a bit formulaic but they manage to keep you turning the pages - he's good at building the tension so you have to read on to find out what happens.

    Nothing outstanding but they're okay.

  • Comment number 7.

    I've not read his books myself, but I was intrigued by the excessive promotion of him at stations where the posters would say "THE NEW JAMES PATTERSON THRILLER" and the picture of the book cover that had "JAMES PATTERSON" in big letters and in smaller letters underneath "with A. N. Other".

    Turns out that Patterson contents himself with coming up with ideas and plot outlines and leaving the actual writing to others, before polishing the final draft himself.

  • Comment number 8.

    Sorry but he's a typical pulp author, very formulaic very cliche.

    Only sells at all because so many half-educated people like to read the same story over and over again (a bit like James Bond films really)

  • Comment number 9.

    I was given Patterson's "Four Blind Mice" as part of a boxset once. Really enjoyable book, very entertaining. That said, I've read nothing of his since. I thought I recognised his name straight away but it admittedly took some routing around to find out how...

  • Comment number 10.

    If you want exciting, read Bernard Cornwell. If you want challenging try Richard Morgan's sci-fi with a difference. If you want erudition try Simon Scarrow. If you want action, go for Andy McNab. Each of these is a master of what he does. Patterson, unfortunately, is not. He writes to a formula.

  • Comment number 11.

    A few of you sound like literary snobs. Even well educated people can enjoy Patterson's books because they are so easy to read. Surely everyone likes a bit of escapism every now and then.


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