Book Review : Hide and Seek by James Patterson

Cover of "Hide and Seek"

Cover of Hide and Seek

It has been raining non-stop since the morning here in Kolkata. Today being Sunday, I had plans for a movie, a serious catch-up session with a cousin as well as a treat at KFC. However, once I realised that the rain had shot all those plans to hell, I did what I do best. I opened a new book and a pack of cigarettes, and proceeded to finish both over the next 5 hours or so.

The book in question, as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, was Hide and Seek by James Patterson. Now, I gotta admit, I’ve never exactly been a fan of James Patterson, but I have more or less liked his work. Okay, what that apparently contradictory sentence is supposed to mean is that I have neither absolutely adored or fiercely loathed any of his creations, I have just liked a few of them and not liked almost an equal number.

Unfortunately, Hide & Seek, in my humble opinion, would go into the second of the two categories. The story is about singer-songwriter Maggie Bradford, who ends up murdering, or more accurately being accused of murdering no less than three husbands. Well, two husbands and a live-in partner. Don’t worry, that wasn’t a spoiler. You learn as much in the opening pages of the story. The novel is basically a description of the incidents along with a bit of twist thrown off in the end like an afterthought. It starts off with the murder of her first husband Phillip who was abusive and alcoholic, and continues from the point when Maggie starts recovering from that incident. She eventually goes on to be an internationally acclaimed singer, but seems to be doomed as far as the men in her life are concerned.

The central problem with the novel is that for a murder mystery, it hardly seems to have any mysteries. The story is a typical abused-woman defending-herself-and-her-children one rather than a true crime thriller, and not a very good one at that. Maggie, the protagonist, does seem to have a varied taste in men, considering she goes through an army officer, a tycoon and a football star in so few years. However, the kind of ease with which she jumps readily from one disaster to another is hardly convincing. The author has dutifully thrown in an assorted mix of secondary characters, mostly for background purposes, but hardly any of them stand out except for Barry Kahn, the producer. The obligatory twists and turns are there, but they are mostly clichéd, and as you go through each of them, you’ll have a feeling that you’ve seen all this before. As a result, you get neither surprised, nor shocked, nor thrilled at any point of the story, and in my opinion that covers just about everything that a thriller can do wrong.

The first James Patterson book I had ever read was “Along Came A Spider“, and I had really liked it. In fact, I have liked most of the Alex Cross books that I have read. The way Patterson writes those hard, dark detective stories has always impressed me. And there, lies the biggest problem with Hide and Seek. The damned thing feels more like a Sidney Sheldon novel rather than a James Patterson one, and let’s face it, even Sheldon didn’t write those very well.

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