Private Paris, James Patterson, Mark Sullivan, authors; Jay Snyder, narrator
Private is a major security firm owned by Jack Morgan. On what he hoped would be a relaxing visit to the Paris office of his company, before he headed home to the USA, he is unexpectedly asked to find the granddaughter of a major client, Sherman Wilkerson. Kimberly Kupchinski had made a call to her grandfather before she disappeared and he believes she is very frightened. Jack and Louis Langois, who runs the Paris office, begin a frantic search for her. At the same time, as the tension builds for that part of the story, Private is drawn into the fray of an unusual murder investigation.
Although, at first, it seems like it might be a random act, simply the tragic murder of a high profile figure, it soon becomes apparent that other outstanding members of French society are being targeted in an attempt to destroy French culture. As the murders and number of victims increase and the common thread of the phrase AB16 appears at each crime scene, terrorism seems to be the more likely offense. All of the initial victims are found hanging upside down, with their arms extended, mocking the sign of the cross and Christianity. The finger of suspicion begins to point to a Muslim plot to destroy French culture.
The two investigations were fraught with tension and each chapter ended with a cliff-hanger, begging the reader to continue. There were chase scenes, shoot outs, escapes and arrests, often of unlikely suspects. There were Saudi princesses and tough bodyguards. There were people who were experts in the art of disguise. There were bombs and confrontations with officers in riot gear. There was corruption from within and without. The twists and turns just kept coming at you, but sometimes, the very excessive number of near misses made the novel’s plot less credible, as the book often seemed about to end, yet still continued on. How many times could Jack and Louis just happen to be in the same place as a crime was being committed? How many times could Jack Morgan sustain an injury and recover? How many times could he escape death when those around him were dying? How many times could he break the law and get away with it? How many times could he be arrested for breaking the law, even though his actions helped to solve the crime? How many times could he simply be the smartest person in the room, the only one recognizing the clues? After awhile, Jack Morgan seemed to take on the persona of a super hero as his “super powers” became a bit ludicrous. Was everyone else simply inept and incompetent?
Basically, in the novel, one is led to believe that Muslims are behind the chaos that has been created and that Kimberly, in an unrelated investigation, is being sought by drug dealers and human traffickers. Discovering why she is being chased by these unsavory characters and who is behind AB16 takes the reader on a roller coaster ride in which the security firm Private and several employees, including Jack Morgan, become suspects in the terrorism investigation, even while at the same time they are helping to solve the crimes. The plot is lightly sprinkled with some romantic interludes, but for the most part it escapes the lure of gratuitous graphic sex and is simply an exciting mystery, above all. This tense, sometimes violent crime novel will be a most engaging beach and/or vacation read.