James Patterson is one of the best known writers in the world and has decided to take his brand of thriller international with the “Private” series. One of these books, co-written with Michael White, is set in Australia with the opening of a branch of the detective agency’s Sydney office. “Private Down Under” was previously published under the title “Private Oz” but is set to be released in the United States for the first time on August 26th.
Private is set to open its new Australian office. It has selected what it believes if the perfect man to lead the branch, Craig Gisto, as well as an agreement with local police to work together. All that is left is the grand opening and the company plans to handle that in style. Justine Smith, Private’s 2nd in command, arrives in Sydney to attend the grand opening party. It is planned to be a lavish event set to kick the office off with a bang. They would only realize just how much of a stir the event would cause when it is interrupted by a blood-soaked and mutilated man who is down to his final few breaths.
When the man’s death leads to an investigation into the Triad, the office soon finds its caseload rapidly growing. The biggest rock star in Australia comes to the company with the belief that his manager is going to murder him and asking for their help. When the friend of the Deputy Commissioner of NSW Police’s wife is murdered, both the company and the police begin a mad scramble to catch the murderer. The woman was not the killer’s first victim and the body count is steadily growing. The Private group is seemingly in over their heads as they try to unravel the threads of crimes that can lead them to stop several murderers.
“Private Down Under” has a lot of different subplots going on at the same time even for a novel of its length but is saved by the fact that the novel does not go too in depth into any of them. It is written in a way that just skims the surface of what is happening and keeps pushing on to the next thing. With its very short chapters and crisp writing, the novel does not have a lot of character or plot development. It is written much in the same way as the crime procedural shows on TV, such as the “CSI” shows, in that it presents a set up and then quickly moves to the resolution of the case. In that same manner, the book provides a couple hours of diversion but little more of substance than easy to digest entertainment. I have no problem with this as it is really all that the book is meant to be and it serves that purpose well enough.
If you are looking for a thriller that has an in-depth storyline which requires detective work on the reader’s part to try and figure out the ending, then this is not the book for you. Instead, “Private Down Under” is a quick read that provides some distraction from the everyday world but little in the way of a challenge. It is easy to slip into the narrative for an escape but the book flows too quickly and there are too many storylines for this to be a great read. Yes, there are some problems with the details not matching what the characters would be thinking and doing in Australia but I can forgive this since this is a release for a U.S. audience and some of those details would be somewhat confusing (such as converting temperatures for those in the U.S. that are not familiar with Celsius) for the intended audience. If you are a fan of Patterson and the “Private” series, then you will enjoy the book. If you are looking for more than a diversion similar to what you would find in a television show, then this is probably not the book for you.
I would like to thank Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “Private Down Under” is scheduled to be released on August 26th.