Book Review: James Patterson – 18th Abduction

It’s rare that I write this; but this is one of the worst books I have ever read.

I’ve been reading this series for many years, and I’m wondering why I after reading this book. It is nothing but filler. There are no stunning plot twists, no interesting character developments and zero of much substance actually happens.

The characters are often the central part of a book. But here they are lazily written. Focussed around Lindsay and Joe, there is really nothing new to find out about either of them, and there hasn’t been for a long time. Yuki, Claire and Cindy are where the interesting scenes often come, however they have about three pages between them in the entire novel. New character Anna Sotovina is intended to be likable for the audience, but in the end she just comes across as stupid and annoying. I sympathise deeply with the character, however she constantly ignores advice not to stalk a known war criminal who recognises her. I admire her, but certain things which she does (taking a car from work just to sit outside Slobodan Petrovic’s house and then confronting his bodyguard) are just plain irrational.

The plot could be interesting enough. Petrovic is a Serbian War criminal from the 1990s, who is wondering around having a merry time in contemporary San Francisco. Why and how? Potentially intriguing questions. Anna, one of the few survivors of the atrocities in Djoba, a Bosnian city, recognises him as being the man who gave her the scar which reaches across her face. She goes to Joe, who decides to try and take him down.

Simultaneously, three schoolteachers go missing after a night out at a restaurant. Lindsay takes the lead, however they don’t seem to get anywhere. There are no clues and no suspects, just a host of seedy, questionable characters who say a lot and do nothing of any relevance.

One fatal flaw this book has is basically giving the whole story away in the blurb. You can see the plots combining over 300 pages before they actually do. Opening the story in the present, and then revealing that the whole book takes place five years in the past is a surefire way of telling us that every character survives the ordeal. The pacing is poor; the first 250 pages are simply Lindsay huffing about, annoyed she can’t get any leads; the last 100 are at a wild speed, but written so mechanically that by the time the final page comes along, you aren’t shocked by the final twist, you’re simply happy that it’s all over.

I have never reviewed a book before which has absolutely zero merits to it. This is the first. To me, this just looks like an attempt to make money. The writing is dull, and the whole plot is given away repeatedly. There is no character development. There is no depth at all to the villain, Petrovic, until the epilogue. Recurring members of the Women’s Murder Club are hardly featured at all; Cindy is portrayed as a nagging journalist once more. It’s sloppy, and it’s lazy. If this didn’t have James Patterson and Maxine Paetro’s names on it, no publisher should have looked twice at it.

People are unlikely to read it unless they’ve taken the first 17 installments in. The seventeenth feels like a conclusion (’17th Suspect’). At this point, I wish it was. And if you reach this point of the series, you may be either as addicted or as masochistic as I am when it comes to the Women’s Murder Club. But you aren’t going to gain anything from book 18. Skip to ’19th Christmas’, which I sincerely hope is far better. This just feels like fan abuse to make a quick buck.

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