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Literary Glance: Blindside by James Patterson and some other guy

April 3, 2020

Blindside by James Patterson and some coauthor is the 12th rough draft in a series of rough drafts about some detective named Michael Bennett.  I don’t know the difference between Michael Bennett and Alex Cross, another James Patterson creation who has a bunch of rough drafts written about him.  I think one of them is black.

I hope there are other differences.  Race is kind of shallow for a defining characteristic.  Maybe one of the characters is an alcoholic.  Maybe one of them is a womanizer.  Maybe one of them is a moral person torn by being immersed in an immoral culture.

Alex Cross has a last name that can be used in book titles, like Cross My Heart and Cross Fire, with unused potential unused titles are Cross To Bear, Cross Examine, or Cross Wire.  It’s tough to put the last name Bennett in a book title in a meaningful way.

I refer to James Patterson books as rough drafts because every rough draft of his that I’ve read has been sloppily written.  Yeah, my own writing can be sloppy too, but I have a blog, and he writes a bestselling novel every month, so he should have higher standards.  I don’t even teach a masterclass!

The first page of Patterson’s newest rough draft Blindside is a typical example of his rough drafts.   In this first page of Blindside, Michael Bennett tries to describe a murder scene, but he sounds like somebody who’s never really been to a murder scene.

Just so you know, I’ve never been to a murder scene either, but I’ve never written and published a murder scene.  I’m not saying you have to have been at a murder scene to write one, but you should be able to pretend better than what Bennett/Patterson/coauthor has done (My comments are in parenthesis.):

I did everything I could to distract Lucille Evans from noticing the bloody footprint (Why?  We find out on the next page that somebody she loves has been murdered.  Why would she care about a bloody footstep when there’s a corpse of a loved one in the next room?).  A responding officer had tracked the blood into the hallway.  One look at the scene inside and the veteran needed to run into the street (street?  He ran into the street?).  I didn’t blame him one bit (you might not blame him for being grossed out, but you might want to tell him not to run into the street).

The forensics  people (vague term) were in the small (lazy adjective), two-bedroom apartment on the third floor of this building (what else would it be?) on 146th Street near Willis Avenue (oh yeah, I know that place) in the Bronx.  The scene was so horrendous (lazy adjective) that the local detectives had called me to help even though it wasn’t technically considered part of Manhattan North Homicide’s usual territory.  Two of the local detective had lost it (“lost it” Haha!).  It happens.  It’s happened to me over the years.  I lost it once at the scene of a murdered girl.  Her stepfather had bashed her head in for crying because she was hungry. She reminded me of my own Shawna, staring up through blood spatters.  When I heard her stepfather in the other room, talking with detectives, I snapped (“Snapped” is different from “losing it”.  “Snapped” is getting  violent.  “Losing it” is throwing up.  Michael said he had “lost it” but he had really “snapped.” ).  It almost felt like another being (lazy writing) possessed me (How does it “almost feel like he had been possessed?).  I burst into the room, ready to kill (the room was ready to kill?).  Only the fact that my partner at the time, Gail Nodding, was as tough as nails (lazy writing) and shoved me out the back door had kept me from killing the creep (poorly written sentence that would have been easy to fix).

Ugh.  This is a rough draft.  It’s not even a good rough draft.  A good editor (or coauthor) should have had the guts to tell James Patterson to clean up this draft.  Yeah, I know, everybody wants to keep his or her job, and telling James Patterson to “be better!!” might make you unemployed.

James Patterson probably has written some decent books, but I’ve never read them.  I’ve never excerpted a James Patterson novel and thought, “This might actually be a good book.”  I’ve glanced at numerous James Patterson books, and all of them, including Blindside, feel like rough drafts.

At this point, the only Blindside would be if James Patterson puts out a well-written book again.


What do you think?  Is this excerpt from Blindside really well-written and I don’t recognize it?    Has James Patterson actually written any good books?  How would you fix a James Patterson rough draft?


One Comment
  1. I agree with you.I never read James Patterson, because his books are lazily written, and there is always a prologue. I am an afficianado of well-written mysteries, and I seldom ever read a book with a prologue. To me, they are a lazy (to use your word) way to get the reader into the story, Compare his books to Henning Mankell or Elizabeth George, or even Maj Sjöwall written with co-author Per Wahlöö. They are not lazy writers. James Patterson churns out his rough drafts for the masses; the non-reading, non-thinking masses, who wouldn’t know a good mystery if it jumped out at them.

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