Book Review – The Red Book by James Patterson and David Ellis – 2021
My Rating – 4 out of 5
Plot Summary – The Red Book
The Red Book is the much awaited sequel to the 2017 blockbuster ‘The Black Book‘. This one is a blockbuster too! It just holds you by the scruff of your neck and does not let go till you reach the last page, and then you suffer from a major withdrawal symptom – ‘wish I had the next one to start with right away!!’ Also because most of James Patterson’s series’ – collaborative or solo – come after a one year gap (give or take), this one’s almost four year gap just whetted the appetite and prompted a frenzy amongst fans to get their hands on it.
Chicago PD Detective, Billy Harney, is coming off the tribulations of the earlier novel – where he was shot in the head, was suspected of murder and unearthed a widespread corruption scandal which took out a large of Chicago cops, including his own father, the Chief of Detectives. Billy comes from a family of Cops (his father having been one), his twin sister Patti is also a Detective in the department. Billy lost his own family to a devastating event – his four year old daughter died of a stroke and his wife Valerie, unable to accept the tragedy, apparently killed herself.
On his return to the department after convalescing, he is assigned to the SOS ( Special Operations Section), an elite squad formed to solve the most challenging cases. Though the Lieutenant of the SOS doesn’t like him, but because of Billy’s famous role in the upheaval in the Chicago Police Department, has to bear with him. But as a perceived slight against him, the ‘Lew’ pairs Billy with another troubled Cop, Carla Griffin – reputed to be a ‘cold and unfriendly’ woman and a suspected druggie. But wary as they maybe of each other, Billy and Carla form an uneasy but effective partnership.
Their first case, in fact the main story in this book, is a drive by shooting in the notorious ‘K-Town’ suburb of Western Chicago. Four people are killed, two drug dealers, a young girl and tragically, another small child. The city gets up in outrage, rallies and protests are planned – in short, the SOS needs a quick solve, otherwise the situation will quickly spiral out of control. Billy and Carla sincerely investigate and soon enough, ‘catch’ the perpetrators – dead. The department is happy, the media is satisfied and so are the public. But Billy is not, something doesn’t sit right with him, this doesn’t seem like a gang war for territorial control.
Billy embarks on his own private investigation, which leads him down a path of discovery and something far more diabolical than a gang war. It raises questions about his past, about the inferences he’s drawn and believed, things are not what they’ve seemed to be. He discovers a red book (hence the name), hidden in his parental home’s basement, giving him clues linked to his investigation in the present day. The more he digs, the more secrets tumble out. Every layer peels off to reveal a new angle!
Conclusion – Book Review of The Red Book
This is a humdinger, a book that you can and should finish at one go. So my warning to you, my dear friend, is to pick it up when you can read for four-five hours straight. Otherwise, you would just be one dissatisfied reader! It is the mother of all page-turners and there are so many twists that you’ll be confounded, this is a crime thriller at the top of its game. Almost all characters are flawed, troubled to a great degree and some have just pure evil in them.
There will be passages in the story which will appall your humanitarian feelings, make you cringe with loathing and disgust, but you will cheer the victories also. If you are a fan of well-written crime thrillers, you cannot afford to miss out on ‘The Red Book’. Oh, and before I leave you – if you haven’t read the ‘The Black Book’, no worries, this one will allude to enough incidents from that one that you will get the gist of what happened, and will not feel confused at not being able to relate.