Private Games

Written by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan — James Patterson is one of the most popular crime fiction authors, his books selling an estimated 260 million copies worldwide. He’s probably most famous for his top-selling detective series featuring Alex Cross. However, he has several other well known series including the Women’s Murder Club featuring Lindsay Boxer, and Private with a detective agency run by Jack Morgan. As you can probably derive from the title, Private Games is part of the latter series and is situated around the London 2012 Games.

When Sir Denton Marshall, a key member of the Olympic organising committee is found decapitated in his garden, Peter Knight, head of Private London, is called to the scene. Marshall was Knight’s mother’s fiancé as well as a valuable client for the agency so this murder instantly becomes personal and the detective vows to catch the killer no matter what it takes.

After a letter is sent to Karen Pope, a sports reporter for The Sun, detailing the corruption of the modern Olympic Games, it becomes clear that Marshall’s murder was no isolated incident and a terrorist going by the name of Cronus is planning an attack is on the event itself. Cronus is aided in his attack on the Olympics by The Furies, three sisters who are indebted to Cronus after he saved their lives. Our villain achieves what he sets out to, and full panic ensues when the Furies attack several Olympic competitors and officials.

The body count continues to rise and with the only suspects nowhere to be seen, what will Private and Peter Knight do to save the Games?

Private Games is not one of Patterson’s finest novels. Although it follows his usual pattern of short, sweet chapters, at times they do not flow. The storytelling continuously skips from the present day to the past, and from Knight’s story to that of Cronus. For me there were a few too many storylines going on in one novel which overcomplicated things. There was the main plot of Cronus’ attack on the Olympic Games, Knight’s ongoing turmoil over being a widower with two troublesome twins, his grieving for close friends and colleagues killed in a fatal plane crash, and his difficult relationship with Inspector Elaine Pottersfield from the Metropolitan Police, who also happened to be Knight’s sister in-law.

Cronus as a character was rather unbelievable too. The reader is provided with background information about the motive behind the killings, however getting beaten as a child and injured during a previous Olympic Games isn’t really a convincing enough motive for becoming a psychopath. It is also hugely unrealistic that one man and three women could infiltrate the high security surrounding the Olympics and thus perpetrate the killings.

However the book is entertaining and keeps up a level of suspense throughout, and I must confess that I didn’t come close to guessing who Cronus was. Patterson and Sullivan had a wealth of knowledge surrounding the Olympics which helped the book seem more realistic. Although Private Games is part of a wider Private series you would not have to read the others to understand the plot. Next, Patterson and Sullivan will be releasing Private Berlin in 2013.

Arrow Books
Print/Kindle/iBook
£4.74

CFL Rating: 3 Stars

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