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Literary Glance: The 17th Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

May 14, 2018

I just read the rough draft of the first seven chapters from The 17th Suspect, the new novel by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro.   For a rough draft, it was okay.  There’s the possibility of a decent story in that draft somewhere.

The first chapter features a murder with no emotional impact at all, and that can be a problem, but maybe that can get fixed with a couple quick rewrites.  Maybe the lack of emotion was intentional, but as a reader, I want to care about what happens to the murder victim (or maybe even the murderer).

The second chapter introduces Yuki Castellano, one of the protagonists.  A lot of readers probably know the protagonist from rough drafts of other James Patterson novels, but I haven’t read those rough drafts, so my brain has to fill in a lot of blanks.  Filling in the details can be okay sometimes, but the first several chapters with Yuki contain almost all dialogue, and there’s no sense of setting.  I’m confident an experienced author like Patterson can fix all that on a rewrite.

So far, this rough draft is kind of blah for a crime drama, but it’s not as bad as some other James Patterson rough drafts.  The worst that I’ve read was his Bookshots a couple years ago, but I haven’t read everything James Patterson has written.  That’s okay.  Rumors suggest that even James Patterson hasn’t read everything he’s written either.

I don’t know about the serial killer in The 17th Suspect, but I think I’ve seen a sexual harassment/rape case like the book’s on a television crime show.  There are so many television crime/legal shows that it’s tough to come up with an original case for a novel.  I wouldn’t even try to write a murder mystery or legal drama anymore because there have been so many murder mystery and legal drama television shows, and it’s tough reading them too.  Why would I spend hours and hours reading a murder mystery when I just saw the same case on some television show that I can’t think of anymore?

The 17th Suspect is the 17th book in the Women’s Murder Club series.  I’m guessing from what I’ve read that the women in the murder club solve the murders instead of committing them.  Maybe that’s what this series needs after 17 books.  One of the women in the murder club can finally snap.  It would put the other women in the murder club in a bad position.  The good news is that they solved the murder; the bad news would be that their murder club just got smaller.

James Patterson and whatever publishing company that puts out his books have made a fortune writing rough drafts and publishing them.  I’m pretty sure (from what I’ve read) that not much effort was put into The 17th Suspect.  Writing a series has to get dull after a while.  Once you hit double digits, you must get bored with it.  The brain yearns for novelty, and this is especially true with creative people.  I might mock some of James Patterson’s rough drafts, but I know he’s got an imagination, and writing 17 books with the same characters has to be getting old, even with a co-writer who might be doing most/all of the work.

I’d kind of like to read a book that James Patterson actually put some effort into.  I know he can do it.  He did it, I think, maybe 25 years ago.  He could even advertise this new book (that has been revised several times) as… “The Book I Actually Wrote Myself and Put Effort Into!!!”  Even if he wrote the novel in one day, he could still wait six months just make it look like he put effort into it.  He could write it in one day, hire a bunch of editors/coauthors to work on it, and teach his Masterclass for five months, and at least pretend he worked on the novel for six months.

Even if James Patterson isn’t writing real books anymore, he could at least pretend.

But I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

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