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Monday, 30 January 2012

The 6th Target, by James Patterson, Reviewed

James Patterson's The 6th Target is, of course, a thriller. I'm not a particular lover of thrillers, though I wrote a romantic thriller as my own first novel. I read this book because it was amongst a large number on my shelves and I'd made a decision at the start of the year to read all that were unread. I think I picked this one up second hand at a charity shop.
Patterson's book took me some time to enter, largely because I couldn't initially find a character I cared about. But this book is one of a longish series, so perhaps the author assumed readers would already be familiar with his female homicide detective. It took me a lot of chapters to become involved but, once I was hooked, I read the book quite quickly.
With over a hundred chapters, some only 2 pages long, and the usual short sentence structure of the genre, it was a relatively quick and undemanding read. Though, at times, I lost track of who was who amongst the dozens of characters.
Three basic story threads weave through the book and at times I was puzzled about which we were looking at. But the stories are told in linear form and, once I got used to the style of presentation, I moved swiftly forward. I try not to write reviews with spoilers, so I'll leave the story itself unexplained. Enough to know that the book contains murders, of course, kidnapping and other crimes. Such acts should generally absorb the reader and make him care but I found I only started to really care towards the end of the book.
There is quite a lot of detail that adds little to the story and I guess a good fifth of the text could be removed without detriment. In fact, it would improve the pace.
There's plenty of drama here and some moral messaging amongst the violence that drives the story. There's a lot of procedural detective work, and some court scenes, that enlightened me about the US justice system.
I gradually came to know the main characters and slowly grew to find some empathy with the female detective, Lindsay Boxer, and her mission to capture the guilty parties for the various crimes. Naturally, she had a complication in her love life; what detective doesn't? But that aspect of her life was written in such bland terms that I had little response to it. Her professional concerns, however, were depicted with more emotional content and I was with her toward the end of the book as the denouement unwound and the natural conclusion was presented.
Would I read any more of this? Well, I have another Patterson book on the shelves, unread, and I won't be getting to it soon, though it was originally the first title on my 'to read' list. There just isn't enough emotional connection for me. The story is told and I prefer to be shown. But the guy sells a lot of books, so the failing is probably with me. I just didn't ever feel sufficiently involved; I felt like a neutral observer presented with enough superficial facts to make judgements on the crimes but lacking any real connection to the characters that might make me care about them.
If you're into crime and more interested in details than the deeper interaction of characters, you'll probably enjoy this a lot more than I did.

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