Top positive review
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Not What Was Expected But Still Has It's Merits.
on 6 September 2013
James Patterson and co-author David Ellis are the named writers of this novel that seem to have produced conflicting opinions judging by the reviews and comments. In a recent newspaper interview Patterson says that he and his co-author, (collaborator is his preferred term), spend time bouncing ideas from each other much as two script writers or songwriters do. What was unclear was the actual contribution when pen is put to paper. Some series are more Patterson in style (Alex Cross), whilst others (The Zoo and I, Michael Bennett for example), seem to find a diluted Patterson input. The Mistress is a mystery from this perspective. If Patterson's name is highlighted, it seems reasonable for the purchaser and reader to expect him to have contributed the lion's share and certainly take responsibility along with the publishers for the final product. The other quandary is whether this is a 'good book' despite the above.
Having now read 'Mistress' and re-read some parts again, I think I understand the reviewers' comments better. The story is convoluted. The main protagonist, Ben Casper, has to tackle an obstacle course barbed with hazards and parties chasing him to prevent him reaching the final line. Ben Casper is a wealthy owner and journalist of an online newspaper. He installed sophisticated surveillance equipment in his girlfriend Diane's apartment at her request. Shortly after she fatally plummets from a fifth story window. Ben takes it upon himself to show it was murder rather than suicide and find the reasons why. Ben is well-connected respected and liked up to Presidential level. The Government agencies, CIA, police, Russian agents do not like Ben. They dislike him enough to want him dead. If, as seems likely, he has acquired secret information of importance, they wish it to remain in his afterlife and will do whatever necessary to achieve this.
Ben is certainly a quirky character with good intentions. He has obsessional thoughts ('mind-scrolls') and ramblings with flights of fancy triggered by trifling stimuli and manifested by trivial responses unrelated to his task in hand; irrelevant details mainly concerning presidents and media. They did not particularly bother me but I understand the constant irritation they could provoke. It may have upset or slowed the early chapters' narrative but it did not affect me unduly as the pace increased during the latter stages of the book with added suspense, twists and surprises right up to the ending.
This did not have the right feel or background of the many Patterson books I have read or reviewed and agree with many it is more likely David Ellis's input with tinkering by Patterson. Is it a 'good book'? My opinion, for what it is worth, is that this is still an entertaining read albeit with flaws and having accepted the caveats. I had no problems reading nor reaching the end. If you want Patterson it is probably best avoided (or borrowed). If not, this is a decent enjoyable novel that stands alone. Not a page-turner but I couldn't help warm to Ben and his predicament.