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10 Page-Turning James Patterson Books for Book Lovers

best james patterson books

Ever heard of James Patterson’s works? Well, he is a well-renowned author that would intrigue you if you’re fun of murders and crime series. With over 200 million copies of his books, there are a collection of suspenseful stories to check out. There are also some of his writings that have been adapted into films and given goosebumps around the globe. Today, we have handpicked 10 of the best James Patterson books that will surely be worth your page to turn. So if you are ready to get fascinated and have a mind-blowing experience, continue browsing this article. 

Best James Patterson Books

  • Along Came a Spider 

Roses Are Red

The president is missing, 4th of july, jack & jill, alex cross, run, along came a spider.

along came a spider

When “ Along Came a Spider ” was initially released in 1993, it immediately shot to the top of the bestseller list. Wherein, the remarkable character of Alex Cross was introduced. Later, in 2001, the novel was adapted into a successful film starring Morgan Freeman as Cross. Readers will dive into a complicated web of clues and suspects as Cross hustles against time to free the abducted children. Further, it is considered one of the most thrilling and satisfying James Patterson books in order. Thanks to its vivid descriptions, complicated characters, and surprising twists.

1st to die

“ 1st to Die ” is the first book of James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series, released in 2001. The protagonist of the story is Lindsay Boxer, a San Francisco homicide detective. She works with three other accomplished women to look into a string of unrelated murders. Additionally,  A medical examiner, a reporter, and an attorney are among the group of women who face a sophisticated killer. Along with the intriguing investigation, the book delves into the friendship among the women. This suspenseful thriller is well-written and will have readers turning pages until the very end.

roses are red

“ Roses are Red ” is the sixth in the series of James Patterson books. It was released in the year 2000  and still follows the character of Alex Cross. Moreover, he looks into a string of bank robberies in Washington, D.C. that quickly develop into something much darker. The ruthless and cunning criminal genius with a horrifying plan for the city is the one responsible for the thefts. Cross competes against time to foil The Mastermind’s scheme and avert a dire situation alongside FBI agent Betsey Cavaliere. “Roses are Red” is a must-read crime book because of its tremendous action, nail-biting suspense, and well-crafted characters.

the president is missing

James Patterson and former US President Bill Clinton co-wrote the political thriller “ The President is Missing ” in 2018. The story follows President Jonathan Duncan, who vanishes during a national security crisis. As the government struggles to find him, it becomes clear that a massive cyber-attack is imminent. The President himself embarks on a covert mission to get to the bottom of the conspiracy. Nonetheless, the book maintains an exciting pace with action while giving readers a  glimpse of how the American government works. 

2nd chance james patterson books

Published in 2002, “ 2nd Chance ” is the second book in James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series. In the story, Lindsay Boxer, a detective, looks into a pattern of gruesome killings going after rich couples. Boxer uncovers a surprising link between the killings and a vicious group of thieves with the help of her friends. This is considered among the best james patterson book for its fast-paced, gripping thriller and unexpected twists. 

3rd degree james patterson books

Another series with an exciting plot and characters. 3rd Degree is a book to check out. It depicts social and political themes including police corruption, drugs, and terrorism. Besides, it delves deeper into the price of power and how could people get it. Nevertheless, it is a fantastic continuation of the Women’s Murder Club series that offers unique and refreshing thriller vibes.

4th of july james patterson books

The beloved character Lindsay Boxer takes readers on another crazy voyage in “ 4th of July ” as she attempts to solve a series of horrible murders in San Francisco. The killer, dubbed “The June 17 Killer,” has been on the run for decades and has returned with a vengeance. Boxer and her team labor relentlessly to find the offender, uncovering a labyrinth of lies and deception that takes them to some of the city’s most influential people. The novel also dives into the individuals’ personal lives, providing depth and emotional impact to the tale. 

jack & jill james patterson books

“ Jack & Jill ” is a masterful crime novel in James Patterson books in order.  The enigmatic and ruthless killers Jack and Jill are among the vivid and memorable characters that fill the book. Patterson brilliantly weaves numerous plot strands together, resulting in a complicated and deep novel that keeps readers guessing until the very end. For this reason, it is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys solving a good mystery.

red alert patterson books

James Patterson transports readers right into the middle of New York City in “ Red Alert “. As NYPD detective Zach Jordan and his partner Kylie MacDonald look into a series of murders that don’t seem to have any pattern or logic. They start to uncover a threatening plot that could have disastrous effects on the entire city. Jordan and MacDonald explore Hollywood’s ruthless industry, meeting prominent actors, directors, and producers. With time running out, they must utilize their investigative abilities to catch the killer before he strikes again.

alex cross run patterson books

Getting to our list of the best james patterson books is the gripping series of Alex Cross, Run . It still follows Detective Alex Cross as he faces one of the most dangerous adversaries of his career. Cross becomes involved in a web of deception and violence when someone brutally murders a beloved family member. So, he hunts down the killer and navigates the underbelly of Washington, D.C., encountering ruthless criminals and corrupt politicians. With time running out, Cross must use his unparalleled skills to solve the case and bring the killer to justice. 

Overall,  James Patterson’s best-selling books are not only thrilling and entertaining but also proof of his talent and skills. His books are undeniably fascinating to people, and his works’ contributions to literature and education also captivate them. So, grab one of these James Patterson books and get into a suspenseful and thrilling world of crime and murder. Anyway, if you want more exciting book recommendations that won’t disappoint you, follow GitMind .

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23 Best James Patterson Books to Read


This post is all about the Best James Patterson Books to Read!

james patterson's best books reviews

I’ve been a James Patterson fan for years. James Patterson books got me into loving thrillers, and he was the very first author to reshare one of my bookish photos on Instagram! But there are a LOT of James Patterson books, and I always get messaged about where to start in his line-up.

The answer? I always say, just pick one up that grabs your attention. The great thing about James Patterson books is you can read them as you see fit. Now, there are series like the Women’s Murder Club and Alex Cross where I think it helps reading them in order, so you get the full backstory, but I started reading them out of order (because I was a newbie), and I didn’t find myself lost while reading them.

The best James Patterson books I recommend I feel you can read as standalone books, but if they are a part of a series, you may enjoy reading them in order. Don’t worry. I’ll point out which books those are!

Whether you’re just starting out reading James Patterson or have been reading his books for a while, this list covers a wide range of his reads!

This post is all about the Best James Patterson Books.

Carly-Rae’s Top Favorite James Patterson Books

Best overall: lost by james patterson and james o. born.

“Lost remains one of my favorites because the setting is in Florida, where I’m from. I thought it was very well described, and the mystery was great. Detective Tom Moon has great characterization too!’

Most Heart pounding: Criss Cross by James Patterson and James O. Born

“Criss Cross was one of the most heart-pounding Cross mysteries for me. I really enjoyed all the twists and always recommend this one to readers.”

The longest one I’ve Read: The Summer House by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois

“This was one of the longer Patterson books I’ve read, but it was super-fast pace. I didn’t see the twists coming! Did not feel 400+ pages long.”

Great Twists: Blindside by James Patterson and James O. Born

“It’s so hard to pick just one, but Blindside caught me off guard in a good way. It hooked me on the Michael Bennett series.”

1. The Summer House by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois

james patterson's best books reviews

The Summer House caught me completely off guard (in a good twisty way)! The lake house was once very pristine, but now it’s dilapidated and barely standing. Major Jeremiah Cook goes to investigate and finds a harrowing scene with a local police force who are hardly welcoming. Read my full review here.

2. Run, Rose, Run by James Patterson and Dolly Parton

james patterson's best books reviews

The country music setting in this book is 5-star. While I don’t think the mystery is the greatest compared to other Patterson reads, I included it because Dolly Parton’s character makes this book shine. I highly recommend the audiobook (which Parton and Patterson voice)! Read my full review here.

3. 22 Seconds by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

james patterson's best books reviews

This book is one of 22 books in the Women’s Murder Club series. Now, this series you can read in order, but you don’t have to. The characters and couples are great…to this day, they are some of my favorites! I am a huge Lindsay Boxer fan!

4. 1st cast by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

james patterson's best books reviews

Angela Hoot is a programmer and on her first case…but her first case is definitely not for a newbie. I thought this was a great addition to the Patterson books. Angela was a great character and had great chemistry with William Keats! Read my full review here.

5. Shattered by James Patterson and James O. Born

james patterson's best books reviews

Michael Bennett thrillers are some of my favorites because they are very twisty. It is a fast-paced read, but a lot you need to pay attention to everything happening. This is part of a series. I started reading the first in the series, but again you don’t have to!

6. Deadly Cross by James Patterson

james patterson's best books reviews

One word: Alex Cross! For me, I love any and all Patterson books that have Alex Cross. He is a great character and always carries the stories. This is part of a series. I started the Cross series, not in order. You can too, but you do miss backstory and if you don’t like knowing what happens to Alex through the years, start this series in order!

7. Roses Are Red by James Patterson

james patterson's best books reviews

This is another Alex Cross mystery that I had to include. There are serious crimes in Washington, D.C., that Cross tackles, but we also see him dealing with personal matters.

8. Murder Interrupted by James Patterson

james patterson's best books reviews

This book is based on true crime and follows a husband who pays a hitman $750,000 to kill his wife, but that plan goes awry. Then there is a celebrity mother who pretended her daughter was sick for attention. A twisty Patterson read!

9. Hush by James Patterson and Candice Fox

james patterson's best books reviews

Harriet was a top cop but is now behind bars. The last person she wants to see is the guy that put her there. But Joe Woods, the police commissioner, shows up and needs Harriet’s help when his daughter and his granddaughter go missing…

10. The Jailhouse Lawyer by James Patterson and Nancy Allen

james patterson's best books reviews

This is a small-town mystery where usually there’s hardly any crime, but the jailhouse is full of inmates. If you like drama and courtrooms, I think this is a Patterson book for you!

11. The Moores Are Missing by James Patterson

james patterson's best books reviews

3 Thrillers in one with The Moores Are Missing (a family who suddenly vanishes), The Housewife (a former detective learns her neighbor has been murdered), and Absolute Zero (Ed is framed for the murder of his friends)—it’s a twisty book filled with page-turner shockers!

12. The Perfect Assassin by James Patterson and Brian Sitts

james patterson's best books reviews

A story I never saw coming! Dr. Brandt Savage is a character who really carried this story. He gets taken to be trained as an assassin and learns a history he never knew existed. Have you read it yet?

13. Lost by James Patterson and James O. Born

james patterson's best books reviews

This book caught me off guard in a good way. It’s set in Miami, where I go all the time, and the setting is very authentic. Detective Tom Moon is a former football star and I just think everything about the plot and his characterization was great. My full review is here!

14. Texas Outlaw by James Patterson and Andrew Bourelle

james patterson's best books reviews

I did not expect to like this one as much as I did. It’s the second book in the series, and I enjoyed it more than the first. Texas Ranger Rory and his famous country singer girlfriend Willow bring an all-new vibe to Patterson’s traditional twisty reads.

15. Blindside by James Patterson and James O. Born

james patterson's best books reviews

This book introduced me to Michael Bennett, so it holds a special place in my heart. I took a selfie with this book, and James Patterson reshared it (which was amazing)! The twists and turns in this book are some of the best! Really enjoyed this one. Read my full review here!

16. The House of Kennedy by James Patterson and Cynthia Fagen

james patterson's best books reviews

This book was different than other Patterson reads. I really enjoyed learning about the Kennedys. Definitely worth a read!

17. 19th Christmas by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

james patterson's best books reviews

The 19th Christmas introduced me to the Women’s Murder Club, and I’ve been a fan ever since. It has great twists and strong characters. The book will hook you on this series! Read my full review here.

18. Private Down Under by James Patterson and Michael White

james patterson's best books reviews

This is one I went back and read. It was published in 2014 and definitely has Patterson’s signature twists with a bloody man stumbling into a local agency.

19. James Patterson by James Patterson

james patterson's best books reviews

James Patterson has always been an interesting author to me. I really enjoy his books, and as soon as I heard he was writing a book about his life, I went out and got a copy! It did not disappoint!

20. Now You See Her by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

james patterson's best books reviews

This twisty Patterson read I highly recommend. A woman, Nina, has been living a lie for 18 years after fleeing her ‘perfect’ life. But now she confronts her past, and oh wow…be prepared!

21. The Black Book by James Patterson and David Ellis

The Black Book by James Patterson

Set in Chicago, this is a fast-paced thriller centering around a missing ‘black book.’ Billy Harney scrambles to find it alongside many others. A book that had me turning the pages as fast as I could!

22. Count to Ten by James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi

james patterson's best books reviews

Santosh is a great character, which is why he has his own Patterson series. I really enjoyed the twists in this story. One of my favorites!

23. Criss Cross by James Patterson and James O. Born

james patterson's best books reviews

Criss Cross is a very twisty Cross mystery. I did not see the ending coming at all! I always recommend this one in the series! Again, if you want to read Alex Cross in the order you can, but you don’t have to!

Why is James Patterson so popular?

James Patterson has achieved tremendous success as a writer by understanding what his readers want and delivering it to them in an easily digestible format. His foray into television is just the latest example of how he’s able to adapt his work to new platforms and reach even more fans. If you’re looking for some summer reading that’s sure to be a page-turner, give one of James Patterson’s books a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Will there be a new Alex Cross book in 2022?

Published September 13th, 2022. The final battle is about to begin. Will Dr. Alex Cross and Detective John Sampson be able to outsmart the all-knowing genius who has been stalking them for years? Find out in the next installment of the series. stay tuned!

What is James Patterson’s best-selling book?

“Along Came a Spider” is the most popular James Patterson novel on Goodreads, with over 400,000 ratings. The first mystery novel in the “Alex Cross” series, it has 28 novels (and counting). If you’re looking for a good mystery series to get into, this is a great one.

Does James Patterson use ghostwriters?

Patterson has been able to achieve such success by honing in on his strengths and focusing on the parts of writing that he excels at. He surrounds himself with people who can help him with the rest. That’s not to say that Patterson doesn’t put in the work – he does, but he also knows when to delegate and when to ask for help. As a result, he’s become one of the most successful authors of our time. And it all started with a simple love for stories.

What is the best James Patterson book to start with?

Patterson’s work is some of the most captivating in the thriller genre. If you’re looking for a new series to start, Along Came a Spider is a great book—and a great place to begin your journey into Patterson’s unputdownable world.

james patterson's best books reviews

I am currently attending Harvard and pursuing a degree in Humanities. My passion is books and writing. Books taught me things about myself, the world, and society in ways I never thought possible. It is thanks to books I know who I am and allowed me to discover my passion for writing. There is nothing like crafting characters and capturing the voice of a story, bringing it to life on the pages. Thanks to every bookish bestie in the book world, it has allowed me to spread my joy of reading to people worldwide!

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18 Best James Patterson Books of All Time

Our goal : Find the best James Patterson books according to the internet (not just one random person's opinion).

  • Type "best james patterson books" into our search engine and study the top 5+ pages.
  • Add only the books mentioned 2+ times.
  • Rank the results neatly for you here! 😊 (It was a lot of work. But hey! That's why we're here, right?)

(Updated 2023)

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  • Best James Patterson Books

Along Came a Spider

Alex cross, book 1.

James Patterson

Women's Murder Club, Book 1

Kiss the girls, alex cross, book 2, the murder house, the president is missing, roses are red, alex cross, book 6, the angel experiment, maximum ride, book 1, the beach house, suzanne's diary for nicholas, sam's letters to jennifer, the thomas berryman number, nypd red, book 1, michael bennett, book 6, step on a crack, michael bennett, book 1, pop goes the weasel, alex cross, book 5, woman of god, confessions of a murder suspect, confessions, book 1.

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View all James Patterson books in order

What are the top James Patterson books to consider for my reading list?

If you're a fan of crime fiction, some of the best James Patterson novels to add to your list include "Along Came a Spider," the first book published in the Alex Cross series. Patterson's Alex Cross series is a great start for diving into James Patterson's thrilling detective novels.

Could you tell me more about the James Patterson book series?

James Patterson's books are renowned for their captivating plots, with Alex Cross being one of his most popular series. This series revolves around Alex Cross, a detective, and his thrilling encounters with murder cases. Other great series by Patterson include the Michael Bennett detective series.

I've heard a lot about James Patterson's crime fiction novels. How do they compare to his other books?

James Patterson's crime fiction novels, particularly the Alex Cross and Michael Bennett series, are often hailed as some of his best works. These novels deliver intense thrillers full of murder and detective work, making them a standout genre among James Patterson's diverse portfolio.

Where can I find James Patterson’s books for a refreshing read?

For a book refresh, you can find James Patterson's books at both online and physical stores. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, Target, and Walmart regularly stock Patterson's novels at a regular price. For a different angle pointing to free content, consider checking out his audiobooks on Audible.

What is the order of reading the James Patterson books in the Cross series?

The Alex Cross series by Patterson begins with "Along Came a Spider," which is an excellent starting point to get a clear picture of Patterson's crime fiction genre. As for the rest of the series, you might find it helpful to read them in the order they were published to follow the evolution of Alex Cross's character and his thrilling detective work.

I'm planning to buy books as gifts for men. Are James Patterson's novels a good choice?

Absolutely! James Patterson books make great men gifts, particularly if they enjoy thrilling crime fiction. Titles from Patterson's Alex Cross series or his Michael Bennett detective novels would be an excellent choice. You can find them in bookshops or online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, and Walmart.

What is the best James Patterson novel featuring Alex Cross?

It's subjective as to which is the best James Patterson novel featuring Alex Cross. However, "Along Came a Spider," the first book in the series, is often highly regarded. This novel introduced the world to Alex Cross and the thrilling, often murder-filled world he navigates as a detective.

Is there a guide to understanding the best James Patterson books in his series?

There isn't a specific guide for understanding the best James Patterson books in his series. However, the Alex Cross series, starting with "Along Came a Spider," is often recommended by fans. Reading the books in order of publication can help you appreciate the progression of Patterson's thrilling writing and complex characters.

Where can I find James Patterson's books at a bargain?

You can often find James Patterson's books at discounted prices or even for free! Keep an eye on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, Target, and Walmart for sales. Additionally, Patterson's audiobooks are often available on Audible for a reduced price or as part of a free trial.

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Which James Patterson Book Should You Read First?

Novel Suspects Featured Image Every James Patterson Reader

For the biggest James Patterson fan…

Red Alert

by James Patterson

by Marshall Karp

A fatal blast explodes in a room full of New York’s elite during a fundraiser. As the NYPD Red task force investigates, they discover that the A-listers they were formed to protect may be responsible for destruction on an unimaginable scale. Get it for the Patterson fan in your life, reminding them of how thoughtful you are.

  • Hardcover (Large Print)
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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around October 2, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Also available from:

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For the first-time James Patterson reader…

Along Came a Spider

Along Came a Spider

Along Came a Spider  is the first book in Patterson’s most popular series, Alex Cross—in which every book is downright addictive. Compelling and twisty, this is a quintessential thriller and the perfect place to start with his work. The story kicks off with the kidnapping of a famous actress’s daughter and a politician’s son and pits a brilliant forensic psychologist against a dangerous serial killer that the FBI and Secret Service can’t outsmart—even with him in custody.

  • Audiobook Download
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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 1, 2003. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

For fans of The Terminator ‘s Sarah Connor…

Humans, Bow Down

Humans, Bow Down

by Emily Raymond

With Jill Dembowski

Illustrated by Alexander Ovchinnikov

Let’s get real—who is not a fan of Sarah Connor? In a world where the robots have just won the Great War, Six is a warrior woman with nothing left to lose. Six and her partner-in-crime, Dubs, are the only thing standing in between humanity and their permanent destruction. To do so, they must put their trust in the unlikeliest of allies.

  • Trade Paperback

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around January 30, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

For the true crime junkies…

Filthy Rich

Filthy Rich

by John Connolly

With Tim Malloy

This is the true story of Jeffrey Epstein, a man who amassed incredible wealth in the financial sector and fell from grace due to his taste in young girls. This book explores all sides of the case, including the girls employed in Epstein’s home, the cops investigating the charges, as well as Epstein himself.

  • Mass Market (Media Tie-In)

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around April 18, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

For the nonfiction fan…

The Murder of King Tut

The Murder of King Tut

by Martin Dugard

James Patterson is known for his page-turning novels, but occasionally he brings his literary prowess to the world of nonfiction. Explore one of the oldest unsolved mysteries through the lens of Howard Carter’s arduous discovery of the pharaoh’s hidden tomb. It may be true, but the story still has all the intrigue, passion, and betrayal of the best James Patterson thrillers.

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 28, 2009. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

For the teen who won’t put their phone down during dinner…

The Injustice

The Injustice

With Emily Raymond

Theo’s Twitter account was anonymous until someone posted a photo that went viral and got him expelled. He pairs up with Sasha, who was also expelled for a crime she didn’t commit, to find out who set them up. Not even his own best friend can be excluded from the list of suspects.

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 13, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

For those interested in exploring faith in fiction…

Woman of God

Woman of God

by Maxine Paetro

This is a fictional thriller about a woman who may, or may not, become the next Pope. The main character, Brigid, is an incredible woman whose faith has never come easily to her. All this is set against the backdrop of a Sudanese civil war, drug dens, high-powered lawyers, Boston churches, and an evolving Catholic church.

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around June 20, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

James Patterson  is the world’s bestselling author, best known for his many enduring fictional characters and series, including Alex Cross, the Women’s Murder Club, Michael Bennett, Maximum Ride, Middle School, I Funny, and Jacky Ha-Ha. Patterson’s writing career is characterized by a single mission: to prove to everyone, from children to adults, that there is no such thing as a person who “doesn’t like to read,” only people who haven’t found the right book. He’s given over a million books to schoolkids and over forty million dollars to support education, and endowed over five thousand college scholarships for teachers. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.

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James Patterson has written more 'New York Times' bestselling books than anyone else — these are his best ones

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  • James Patterson is one of the bestselling American authors of all time.
  • We turned to Goodreads members to rank his most popular novels.
  • Readers' top favorites include " Along Came a Spider " and " Kiss the Girls ."

Insider Today

James Patterson is a bestselling American author known for his mystery novels, thrillers, and crime fiction. He's one of the highest paid authors of all time , has the most New York Times bestsellers , and became the first author to sell one million ebooks in 2010. He is also a proud philanthropist and has donated millions of dollars to fund classroom libraries across the country. 

To rank the most popular James Patterson novels, we turned to Goodreads members . On Goodreads, over 125 million readers rate, review, and share their favorite books . So whether you're looking for a new thrilling James Patterson read or hoping to find your next favorite mystery or thriller , here are the 21 most popular James Patterson novels, according to Goodreads members.

The 21 most popular James Patterson novels, according to Goodreads members: 

'along came a spider'.

james patterson's best books reviews

"Along Came a Spider," available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.19

With over 400,000 ratings, " Along Came a Spider " is the most popular James Patterson novel amongst Goodreads members. This is the first mystery novel in the " Alex Cross " series, which now has 28 novels (and another due to be published next month). This first book introduces readers to Alex Cross, a brilliant homicide detective determined to stop a psychopathic murderer in this electric thriller.

'Kiss the Girls'

james patterson's best books reviews

"Kiss the Girls," available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.98

" Kiss the Girls " is the second mystery featuring homicide detective Alex Cross who is now hunting for two collaborative, conniving serial killers working from coast to coast. Told in short chapters, this thriller is fast-paced and gripping, demanding readers' attention until the very last page.

'1st to Die'

james patterson's best books reviews

"1st to Die," available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.36

The first book in the "Women's Murder Club" series, " 1st to Die " is a mystery about four friends with different careers linked to criminal investigation: A homicide inspector, a medical examiner, an assistant district attorney, and a crime reporter. Together, they sidestep their bosses to collaborate and catch a killer who's tormenting San Francisco.

'The Angel Experiment: A Maximum Ride'

james patterson's best books reviews

"The Angel Experiment," available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $4.59

As a teenager, I was completely obsessed with this young adult fantasy series about six homeless, parentless children that all have special abilities including the ability to fly. Bred in a lab with avian DNA, the six kids have escaped and must evade the evil scientists that are constantly trying to recapture them.

'Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas'

james patterson's best books reviews

"Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas," available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $16.99

" Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas " is a James Patterson romance novel about Katie Wilkinson, who has found everything she's ever wanted in her perfect life partner. When he suddenly and mysteriously disappears from her life, she's left with a strange diary that reveals heartbreaking secrets in this overwhelming and emotional read.

'School's Out—Forever'

james patterson's best books reviews

"School's Out—Forever,"   available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.73

In this second installment of the " Maximum Ride " series, Max and her flock are discovered by the FBI after an accident leaves one of them hurt and in the hospital. Making a deal with the FBI in exchange for their brother's treatment, the flock attends a special school as Max uncovers how she's meant to save the world.

'2nd Chance'

james patterson's best books reviews

"2nd Chance," available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.27

In this shocking thriller, the four women of the Women's Murder Club reconvene when two terrible and tragic events seem to be linked. When the women discover the connection, the answer and the killer's motive stun the entire nation in this action-packed murder mystery.

'Sam's Letter to Jennifer'

james patterson's best books reviews

"Sam's Letters to Jennifer," available at Amazon,  $15.99

This contemporary romance follows Jennifer, who returns to her hometown to be with her ill grandmother while still mourning the loss of her husband. When Jennifer discovers a packet of letters addressed to her from her grandmother, the writing inside unveils the stories of her grandmother's life.

'Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports'

james patterson's best books reviews

"Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports," available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.95

" Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports " is the third book in the " Maximum Ride " series, where Max and her flock discover a sinister plot to genetically engineer a select population into a superior race and eliminate the rest of humanity. Though the group has been separated, they must work together to stop the experiment and save the world.

'3rd Degree'

james patterson's best books reviews

"3rd Degree," available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.36

In this third installment of the "Women's Murder Club" series, Detective Lindsay Boxer discovers three dead bodies, accompanied by a mysterious message. When more bodies are discovered, she brings in her three friends to help find a killer who has vowed to kill every three days — and it seems the next target is one of their own.

'4th of July'

james patterson's best books reviews

"4th of July," available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $9.20

This "Women's Murder Club" mystery focuses on Lieutenant Lindsey Boxer who finds herself on trial after a dramatic chain of events that all began when she fired her weapon. In this suspenseful story, Lindsay's friends must help her clear her name and stop a killer before they strike again.

'The Beach House'

james patterson's best books reviews

"The Beach House," available at Amazon, $10

"The Beach House" is a compelling mystery novel about law student Jack Mullen and his brother, Peter, who works as a valet in the Hamptons. When Peter's body is found on the beach, Jack knows his brother did not drown by accident. As it seems the police have been paid off to turn the other way, Jack must take the investigation into his own hands.

'Jack & Jill'

james patterson's best books reviews

"Jack & Jill," available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.36

In this third suspenseful mystery in the " Alex Cross " series, a US senator is murdered in his bed while Alex is called to the devastating murder scene of a little girl. As Alex Cross rushes to solve the murders, the killer strikes again, sending the homicide detective on a desperate race against the clock.


james patterson's best books reviews

"Max," available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.99

In this fifth book of the " Maximum Ride " series, something is destroying ships and animals off the coast of Hawaii and the Navy elicits the help of Max and her flock in their top-secret investigation. At the same time, they discover Max's mom is being held prisoner underwater and they must deep-dive through evil waters to rescue her.

'Cat & Mouse'

james patterson's best books reviews

"Cat & Mouse," available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.99

In this " Alex Cross " mystery, an infamous killer returns for revenge, determined to kill Alex before his terminal diagnosis takes his life. At the same time, Thomas Pierce is hunting his own murderous rival and when their path crosses with Alex's, the outcome could prove deadly.

'The 5th Horseman'

james patterson's best books reviews

"The 5th Horseman," available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $8.50

In this 2006 installment of the "Women's Murder Club" series, a new woman joins the club- attorney Yuki Castellano. With the help of Yuki, the Murder Club women uncover a merciless killer that may be linked to a string of mysterious patient deaths in a hospital that's determined to protect its reputation more than anything — or anyone — else.

'Hide and Seek'

james patterson's best books reviews

"Hide and Seek," available at Bookshop , $9.20

In " Hide and Seek ," Maggie Bradford is a famous singer on trial for murdering two of her husbands, a celebrity trial that has drawn the attention of the nation. As this standalone crime thriller untangles the mystery, it seems one of Maggie's famous husbands had dark and dangerous secrets of his own.

'Roses Are Red'

james patterson's best books reviews

Roses Are Red, available at Amazon, $8.99

In this nail-biting thriller with elements of touching romance, detective Alex Cross is hunting down a brilliant killer who calls himself "Mastermind," robbing banks and killing bank employees that don't comply with his explicit instructions. While juggling a personal crisis at home, Alex must stop the bank robber before he can pull off one final crime.

'The Final Warning'

james patterson's best books reviews

"The Final Warning," available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.59

In this suspenseful and action-packed fourth novel in the young adult series "Maximum Ride," Max and her flock escape to Antarctica to help study the causes of global warming. Though Max thought she'd finally escaped the dangers that have been following her for years, it becomes obvious that she and her genetically engineered siblings have a constant target on their backs.


james patterson's best books reviews

"Cross," available at Amazon, $8.79

"Cross" is the 12th novel in the " Alex Cross " series, where Alex Cross is trying to move on years after his wife was killed by an unknown shooter. Now a free agent from the police and FBI looking for a calmer life, Alex Cross is called to help his former partner in tracking down a serial rapist when a connection is revealed that might lead Alex to his wife's killer.

'Pop Goes the Weasel'

james patterson's best books reviews

"Pop Goes the Weasel," available at Amazon and Bookshop , from $7.36

" Pop Goes the Weasel " is the fifth " Alex Cross " mystery, where detective Alex Cross pursues complex, dangerous, and thrilling murderers. In this novel, a series of twisted murders have left Washington, D.C. investigators reeling but when Alex Cross identifies a suspect, proving he's the murderer could become a deadly task.

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james patterson's best books reviews

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James patterson’s best books to read in 2023.

james patterson's best books reviews

James Patterson stands out among contemporary literary fiction as one of the masterful storytellers known for creating complex plots and memorable characters and taking readers on an emotional journey through his words. Patterson proves his versatility with every book he publishes – from gripping crime thrillers that keep readers riveted to emotionally powerful tales that touch readers’ hearts – demonstrating both genres equally with every offering he produces.

Patterson’s stories reveal his immense creativity and profound understanding of human emotions by depicting the psychological journeys of detectives pursuing criminals, depicting difficulties faced by women banding together against daunting odds to accomplish important missions, or providing tales of love and loss. They all testify to his extraordinary skill at exploring our humanity. 

His stories, filled with suspense, romance, and interpersonal dynamics that resonate deeply with everyday reality, capture readers and shed insight into its intricacies. Through many stories penned over his career thus far,  James Patterson firmly cements himself as a literary giant while delighting audiences worldwide with each page turn.

Along Came a Spider  

“Along Came a Spider,” written by James Patterson, introduces readers to Alex Cross – one of America’s premier detectives and forensic psychologists based in Washington D.C. The novel chronicles how Dr. Alex Cross becomes involved in an intricate kidnapping case spanning Washington, D.C. Beginning the film is Gary Soneji’s abduction of Maggie Rose Dunne and Michael Goldberg from an elite private school through Gary Soneji himself. 

As this case proceeds, it becomes evident that Soneji’s motivations extend far beyond merely seeking ransom; his true ambition may lie in perpetuating an act of violence that will remain an iconic crime. Cross and Jezzie Flanagan form an unlikely bond during this high-stakes game of cat and mouse, becoming intimately involved personally and professionally with the investigation. 

james patterson's best books reviews

1st To Die  

“1st to Die” marks James Patterson’s inaugural novel of his Women’s Murder Club series. This captivating tale centers around four dynamic San Francisco women: Lindsay Boxer (homicide inspector), Claire Washburn (medical examiner), Cindy Thomas (crime reporter), and Jill Bernhardt (assistant D.A.). These women join together as an unofficial team known as “Women’s Murder Club” to collaborate outside of their departments and collaborate on an elaborate plot that involves several grisly murders on newlywed wedding nights – murderous sprees! 

As they further investigate, Lindsay becomes personally affected when diagnosed with an incurable blood disease and begins receiving treatments in her hospital room.

Meanwhile, evidence leads them to suspect someone from within their inner circle as part of this story arc.

The four women become closer as a group as they navigate the challenges this case presents, their personal lives, and any inherent risks of their professions. “1st to Die” sets an exciting scene for this series with its captivating blend of suspense, romance, and interpersonal dynamics – emphasizing female collaboration in high-stakes environments while keeping readers enthralled until its very conclusion. Patterson perfectly crafts her tale to keep audiences turning pages until the last page has been read!

james patterson's best books reviews

The Angel Experiment

“The Angel Experiment,” by James Patterson’s “Maximum Ride” series, is an intriguing blend of science fiction and adventure that introduces readers to Max (Maximum Ride), her friends Fang Iggy Nudge the Gasman Angel as well as Max herself. These children aren’t ordinary; they’re genetically engineered creatures created through hybridization between human DNA and bird DNA that gives them wings that allow them to fly! After fleeing “The School,” where they had been subject to experiments, a flock lives in hiding while searching for answers about themselves and why they came into being. 

james patterson's best books reviews

Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas

“Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas” by James Patterson offers an emotional tale of love, loss, and healing. Katie Wilkinson, an established book editor living in New York City, is devastated when Matt ends their relationship abruptly. While grieving this sudden departure, she discovers a diary written by Suzanne that chronicles their journey of love, tragedy, and resilience over five years – an ordeal which she chronicled through writing this diary that addressed directly to Nicholas – who now reads it aloud to Katie at an earlier point during his writing stint.

james patterson's best books reviews

School’s Out – Forever

“School’s Out – Forever” by James Patterson continues the adventures of Max (Maximum Ride), Fang Iggy Nudge Gasman Angel, and their “flock.” Following their escape from “The School,” Max is being pursued by both FBI agents and unknown individuals who wish to capture or eliminate her and her flock members.

As part of their search to learn the truth about themselves and why they were created, the flock heads toward Washington, D.C. Along the way, they encounter new threats, make unexpected allies, and experience what appears to be normal life when briefly enrolling at school – only for this to quickly end as danger lurks around every corner – particularly with Erasers (wolf-human hybrids) constantly on the lookout. Their pursuit stresses cohesion among members of their flock, putting its cohesion under scrutiny.

james patterson's best books reviews

Sam’s Letters to Jennifer

“Sam’s Letters to Jennifer,” written by James Patterson, explores love, loss, and rediscovery themes. When Chicago newspaper columnist Jennifer is informed about Sam, her grandmother who has fallen into a coma, this prompts her to return home to Lake Geneva, where they spent their childhood years.

Jennifer quickly discovers a series of letters written by Sam that illuminate his deeply emotional love story with Brendan, chronicling their passionate, heart-wrenching, and hopeful moments together. While reading through them, Jennifer learned more about Sam and began healing herself after recent tragedies, such as losing her husband and miscarrying their baby girl.

james patterson's best books reviews

“3rd Degree” by James Patterson continues the Women’s Murder Club series by following four female protagonists: Homicide Inspector Lindsay Boxer, Medical Examiner Claire Washburn, Assistant District Attorney Jill Bernhardt, and reporter Cindy Thomas as they work together to solve crimes in San Francisco.

Patterson masterfully crafts an intriguing thriller to keep readers engrossed, interweaving personal relationships and high-stakes crime-solving to create “3rd Degree”, an electrifying read that offers suspenseful mystery plotlines and explores their complex dynamics as four friends.

james patterson's best books reviews

4th of July  

“4th of July” by James Patterson is the fourth book in his Women’s Murder Club series and features suspense, action, and interpersonal drama. This novel centers around Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer, a San Francisco Homicide detective caught in an intense legal dispute.

Boxer and her partner were attacked during a routine traffic stop; during her response to these assaults, she shot back, hitting and killing an 18-year-old teenager. Following this tragedy, she is charged with police brutality and stands trial, while their former client’s family has accused her of murder.

Patterson masterfully weaves Boxer’s court proceedings together with an unfolding murder mystery in Half Moon Bay. Her writing provides an absorbing look into police work, justice system complexities, and one’s determination to uncover the truth; her Women’s Murder Club provides an unbreakable bond that remains at its heart throughout.

james patterson's best books reviews

Pop Goes the Weasel  

“Pop Goes the Weasel” by James Patterson is another thrilling novel featuring Alex Cross, an expert detective and forensic psychologist. This time, his narrative delves deep into a dark world: serial killing in Washington D.C. targeting young women; hence, the title comes from its use by this serial killer as their signature refrain in nursery rhyme form – hence its intriguing name as well.

Cross discovers during his investigation that Geoffrey Shafer, a British diplomat with diplomatic immunity, is the prime suspect. Shafer leads an unconventional life both publicly and underground as part of dangerous role-playing games; their cat-and-mouse game with each other becomes ever more intimate and potentially risky as time progresses.

james patterson's best books reviews

Four Blind Mice  

James Patterson’s Alex Cross series provides readers with one of its riveting novels in “Four Blind Mice.” Detective Alex Cross finds himself involved with an emotionally charged case: his longtime partner John Sampson has asked for help when one of their former Vietnam War comrades has been wrongfully charged and sentenced to death; these efforts eventually resulted in their team working tirelessly on clearing his name – Sampson was determined to clear their friend’s name! Sampson and Cross collaborate to investigate deeper.

james patterson's best books reviews

Athena Nagel

Athena is a seasoned freelance writer, influencer, and blogger with 22 years of expertise. She likes to breathe life into words and transform them into engaging stories and compelling content. With a passion for blogging, Athena is on a mission to inspire and inform through the art of storytelling.

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12 Best James Patterson Books to Suit Every Mood

  • by Sam Howard

James Patterson once said: “I want to prove to everyone, from children to adults, that there is no such thing as a person who doesn’t like to read, only people who haven’t found the right book.” He then went on to write the ‘right book’ for many, his genres ranging from thrillers, suspense, and horror, to romance and YA. 

Since his first published book, The Thomas Berryman Number (1976), won The Edgar Award for best novel of the year, Patterson has had a string of success stories (literally!). Today, he is among those who have written the most number of New York Times bestsellers in history. 

He’s most famous in the thriller and suspense realm, because he has a way of keeping you hooked from the first line, making sure you turn the pages to the very end with his fast-paced writing style. And I, like many other Patterson fans, got to know and love him through his crime and mystery novels. Then I read a bunch of other genres he’s written in and, just as I expected, he did right by those books too. 

So I’ve compiled a list of some of his best page-turners here for you, and since my heart always sings for the romance genre, I included two of his best romance novels as well. 

How I rated these books

I’m a mood reader, so whatever I felt at the end of the book makes it into my rating. But there are a few more things I think of when deciding on it:

  • Whether the plot makes sense
  • Whether there are interesting characters and character arcs
  • If the style of writing is appealing
  • Whether the book is worth a second read
  • What other readers say about them

Best James Patterson Books List

Best james patterson book reviews, 1. along came a spider – my favorite.

Along Came A Spider

  • Genre/Sub-genre – Mystery, crime, mystery thriller, thriller, suspense, detective, adult, murder mystery
  • Content warnings – Burying alive, death, murder, kidnapping
  • Type – Series
  • No. of pages – 449
  • First publication – February, 1993
  • Goodreads rating – 4.13

Gary Soneji, the psychotic killer, is about to commit the ‘crime of the century’. The latest of his unspeakable crimes happen at the precinct of the brilliant homicide detective, Alex Cross. Soneji is soon becoming his worst nightmare, especially since he needs to be at the top of his game and not be distracted by the smart and seductive Jezzie Flanagan, the first female supervisor of the Secret Service.

Nobody ever truly forgets their first Patterson and for me, it was Along Came a Spider from the Alex Cross series. My favorite genre after romance is mystery thriller (probably because I binge read the Nancy Drew series as a kid) so when I came across the first book featuring Alex Cross, I didn’t think twice about reading it. I was delighted to find that it was a chilling read featuring a psychopath wreaking havoc in Washington D.C. 

Our psychopathic antagonist, Gary, is the kind that deserves a spot on Criminal Minds because he’s ruthless, manipulative, and treats all humans as his next victim. Patterson writes about him very skillfully, especially about Gary’s human side. I was left thinking about the motives behind the killer, what made him who he is, and his mental health. The story is about him committing his latest crime in the precinct of Alex Cross, the skilled homicide detective. 

Cross is brilliantly portrayed as a detective who started from the ghettos and rose up the ranks, working up to a massive career. In short, it’s so easy to root for this protagonist – I was completely invested in him winning both cases and at life. 

I loved the tension between Alex and Jezzie. Their forbidden romance gave us some great angst and longing scenes, but my one complaint is that Jezzie’s portrayal wasn’t as fleshed out as I would’ve liked it to be. I hate when FMCs are just there as a plot device with little to no character development of their own, and that’s what happened with Jezzie too.

That aside, the thriller/mystery element of this book was top-notch. I couldn’t rest without finding out the truth behind the mysterious killings and the plot twists just kept throwing me off my guard. 

Along Came a Spider has the best parts that make a great mystery thriller: a relatable detective, a frightening psychopath, and a fast-paced plot. This is your quick weeknight read for when you need something to pick up your mundane work days.

  • Best for – Fans of psychopath villains, homicide detectives, forbidden romance
  • Not for – Readers who are uncomfortable with murders, depiction of child murders/kidnapping

2. 1st to Die

1st to Die: A Novel (Women's Murder Club, No 1)

  • Genre/Sub-genre – Mystery, thriller, crime, mystery thriller, suspense, murder mystery, detective, adult
  • Content warning – Domestic abuse, sexual abuse
  • No. of pages – 424
  • First publication – March, 2001
  • Goodreads rating – 4.10

Four crime-solving women team up to pursue a killer whose crimes have shocked San Francisco. But just as they near the end of their chase, a shocking revelation leaves them reeling with more questions than answers about everything they thought they knew.

What is the best thing that could make a James Patterson mystery thriller better than it already is? A women’s murder club, tasked with solving brutal crimes. I literally squealed when I read the synopsis of book 1 of the Women’s Murder Club, 1st to Die, because it’s about four women teaming up to catch a killer in San Francisco. 

My favorite thing about this book is the individualities of these four women. Each one has a specific career in the field of forensics and criminal science, and each one has their own battles to win. We love strong FMCs over here, so I was engrossed in their stories from the beginning. It certainly helped that Patterson expertly painted the female dynamics, their sisterhood, and teamwork throughout the story. 

Now let’s get to the thriller aspect of it. I have one thing to say: what on earth was that plot? The plot had me holding my breath until the end of the story to let out a sigh of relief, only to scream at that last twist. I won’t say more here because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but Patterson really hit a home run with this mystery. 

This is one of my favorite Patterson mystery thrillers for two reasons: the nail-biting plot and the fabulous group of women who are intent on solving the mystery. Since reading this book, I’ve been a staunch fan of the Women’s Murder Club, and I’m sure you will be too. Pick it up for strong FMCs and a killer plot (yes, literally).

  • Best for – Fans of strong FMCs, female investigators
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for a slow burn

3. Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas

Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas

  • Genre/Sub-genre – Romance, chick lit, contemporary, adult, mystery, drama, love, contemporary romance
  • Content warning – Abandonment
  • Type – Stand-alone
  • No. of pages – 289
  • First publication – January, 2001
  • Goodreads rating – 4.17

Katie thinks she has found the perfect man until he suddenly leaves her with no explanation. When a diary turns up at her door with a note from her lover urging her to read it, she doesn’t hesitate. But will the answers she’s looking for be more painful than the breakup she’s just been through?

I first came across the movie version of Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, but when I saw the reviews online, I decided to give the book a chance. I was left with tears in my eyes at the end of this book – a reaction I never thought I’d have to the work of a writer best known for mystery thrillers.

We start the story with Katie sitting in a bathtub in tears, after having read the diary that Suzanne had written for Nicholas, her son. She realizes that Suzanne’s husband is Matt, her lover who had suddenly left her, the night before she had received the diary. Patterson’s opening lines were enough to catch me off guard because it was clear that both Suzanne and Katie were so in love with Matt. 

After Katie’s initial shock of reading the diary, there was an almost eerie calmness in her that I got a bit confused. You wouldn’t have expected a woman who had just found out that her lover was married to be this calm about everything, right? Did her love run so deep that she wasn’t angry? What was in the diary that made her feel empathy for Matt, even after he had wronged her? 

In answering these questions, Patterson treats us to two beautiful love stories in this novel. The plot twists and the ending were slightly predictable but Patterson’s portrayal of characters was the true winner in this book because we get to see the surprising tenderness and understanding between all of them. Their vulnerabilities were so heart-wrenching that I was ugly crying my way through the entire book 😭. 

Ultimately, this is a story which shows us that love isn’t black or white and that it instead exists, in a multitude of colors, in the ordinary moments of everyday life. I loved reading this mature romance and I would 100% recommend it for those of you looking for a slow, emotional, romance.

  • Best for – Fans of slow burn romances, mature romances
  • Not for –  Readers who are looking for a one love trope

4. Sam’s Letters to Jennifer

Sam's Letters to Jennifer

  • Genre/Sub-genre – Romance, chick lit, contemporary, adult, mystery, drama, contemporary romance, love
  • Content warnings – Grief
  • No. of pages – 263
  • First publication – January, 1991
  • Goodreads rating – 4.16

Six months after losing the love of her life, Jennifer moves back to Wisconsin to care for her ill grandmother. Here, she finds a painful secret that her grandmother has been harboring for years and discovers another chance at love.

I swear, I didn’t pick this book up because of the namesake. It’s just that Patterson did such a great job with Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, I decided to dive right into his other romance novel, Sam’s Letters to Jennifer. This was another haunting love story with themes of grief and loss, which left me at a loss for words once I was done with it. 

I love the second-chance love trope in this book where Jennifer, our FMC, returns to her hometown to care for her ill grandmother and ultimately ends up falling for Brendan. The way she falls in love with him is so heartwarming to see because Jennifer is giving herself a second chance at love, after going through the grief of losing her former partner. I found the depiction of her loss very painful to read about, but it was so beautifully written, capturing the mourning that follows the loss of a partner, and the conflicting feelings that come with finding love again. 

Patterson once again explores two love stories in this book. The second one is Jennifer’s grandmother, Sam’s, told through the letters that she has left for her granddaughter. I really enjoyed picking out the similarities between the stories of Jennifer and Sam, and I think this plot device really shows Patterson’s skills as a writer. Sam’s story is also a great (and pretty heartbreaking) insight into marriages from a different era. 

Sam’s Letters to Jennifer is a haunting, occasionally painful story of love and loss and I can confirm that James Patterson did wonders in the romance genre this time around as well. I’m recommending this with high praise, but be warned, you might need a weekend blocked out to sob your heart out as you read this book.

  • Best for – Fans of themes of love and loss, second chance love 
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for a quick burn, happy romance

5. The Murder House

The Murder House

  • Genre/Sub-genre – Mystery, thriller, suspense, crime, mystery thriller, adult, murder mystery, detective
  • Content warnings – Murder
  • No. of pages – 451
  • First publication – September, 2015
  • Goodreads rating – 4.07

Former NYC cop Detective Jenna Murphy has just moved back to the Hamptons in an attempt to escape her troubled past and to rehabilitate her struggling career. The last thing she expects is the town’s cursed gothic mansion to be the scene of depraved killings. With everything on the line, Jenna must risk her life to expose the truth behind the murders.

Haunted houses both terrify me and intrigue me, so when I found that James Patterson has a mystery thriller set around a creepy house, I knew I had to read it. This turned out to be one of the best stand-alones of Patterson’s I’ve read, mostly because I loved reading the chapters written from the point of view of the unknown killer. 

The book is told in a series of POVs, mainly between Detective Murphy and the unknown killer, who calls himself Holden. Reading his perspective gave me the shivers, but I loved that deep dive into the deranged thoughts of the criminal. 

Now, when they caught Noah Walker — the bad boy carpenter of the Hamptons for the murders — I immediately knew something smelled fishy. He didn’t really come across as a ‘deranged criminal.’ But (I’m ashamed to say) that was the only thing about this book that I was able to predict. I kind of pride myself on being able to figure out who the killer is before the end of the book, but Patterson almost always wins this game in his books. This was the same for The Murder House, and the twists had me jumpy right to the very end. 

The only issue I had with this story was the depiction of Detective Jenna Murphy’s character. She came off a bit annoying and careless as a detective, ready to point fingers at everybody instead of thinking things through first. 

However, if you’re in the mood for a fast-paced murder mystery, this is the perfect book for you. Check it out for its FMC who’s also a former NYC cop, the town bad boy who’s arrested for murder, and the POVs from the killer himself. And the cherry on top is the eerie, abandoned house where the story takes place.

  • Best for – Fans of murder mysteries, fans of abandoned houses
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for a likable FMC

6. The Postcard Killers

The Postcard Killers

  • Genre/Sub-genre – Mystery, thriller, crime, suspense, mystery thriller, adult, murder mystery
  • Content warnings – Death of a child
  • No. of pages – 420
  • First publication – August, 2010
  • Goodreads rating – 3.82

NYPD Detective Jacob Kanon is on an adventure through Europe’s cities for a heartbreaking reason: his daughter was a victim of a series of murders while holidaying in Paris. The killings are always preceded with a riddle written on a postcard to local newspapers, and the killers always claim couples on vacation. Enlisting the reluctant help of reporter Dessie Larrson, Kanon is ready to bring justice for his daughter.

Since murder mysteries are a surefire way of turning a boring weekend around, I picked up this novel during one slow weekend, and was completely blown away by the chilling murder spree depicted here. I had to call a fellow Patterson fan in the middle of reading this book just to calm myself down. 

I really loved that this book was set in Europe with the murders being in multiple locations, giving a sense of adventure to the whole mystery-solving aspect of the book. I also enjoyed that the detective pursuing the crimes, Kanon, was doing so for a very personal reason, bringing his determination front and center throughout the book. There’s nothing quite like a personal vendetta in a thriller novel to keep you captivated in the story. 

The book carried elements of erotica and historical art within the themes of murder and mystery. Adding that to the backdrop of adventure, the combo of themes made it a captivating read, especially as the crimes were linked to two killers who have a very interesting relationship to one another. 

I do wish though that the characters of the two killers were more fleshed out in this story. I was excited to find out what made them killers and how they connected, but my questions went unanswered and now I’m trying to manifest a sequel or spin-off featuring the killers.

So while I draft a letter to James Patterson asking for more of the Postcard Killers, go read this book! It’s an amazing stand-alone novel featuring a spree of gruesome killings, an adventure, and a detective with a personal vendetta.

  • Best for – Fans of adventure novels, murder mysteries
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for well-developed villains

7. Red Alert

Red Alert: An NYPD Red Mystery (NYPD Red, 5)

  • Genre/Sub-genre – Mystery, thriller, crime, suspense, mystery thriller, adult, murder mystery, detective
  • No. of pages – 338
  • First publication – March, 2018

Detective Zach, from NYPD Red, is in his element with his partner Detective Kylie, doing what they do best: solving high-profile crimes. What’s keeping them up at night is their next case: investigating the connection between two bomb explosions and the suspected murder of a high-profile NY-er known for her kinky sexual interests. Adding fuel to the suspense of solving a high-stakes, complicated mystery is the romantic tension between the duo.

The NYPD Red series is no stranger to the hardened Patterson fan. I pretty much binge-read the books as they were released because they feature one of my favorite tropes in murder mysteries, NYPD detectives. Patterson writes about an NYPD special unit named NYPD Red, featuring Detectives Zach and Kylie, and my favorite happens to be Red Alert.

I completely believe that the secret to a great detective story is one thing: the messiness. Hear me out, nobody wants a ‘clean’, easily predictable mystery where we can see the twists coming a mile away. But when there are multiple mysteries with little to no connection between them, that’s when things get a little messy and a whole lot interesting. 

Red Alert is the perfect example of such a book with the mysteries ranging from a bomb explosion at a fundraiser and a suspected murder of a high-profile New Yorker known for her kinky sexual explorations to a second bomb explosion. And I assure you, all these interconnected puzzles and the NYPD Red squad’s attempts to untangle everything will keep you hooked from the beginning. 

As usual, my favorite NYPD detective, Zach, was well characterized in this book. His witty banter with Kylie is hilarious while his longing for her is delightfully angsty. I loved seeing their personal relationship develop as a backstory, though I sometimes wanted to throw the book at the pair because they couldn’t see that they were good for each other. 

This remains my favorite NYPD Red book because of the insight it offers into the investigation of three gruesome crimes and the personal relationship between Zach and Kylie. I love the book for its pace, and I’m sure you’ll love it too – it’ll keep you occupied, twisting and turning the mystery in your head until you reach the very end.

  • Best for – Fans of NYPD-detective trope
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for a low-stakes mystery

8. Woman of God

Woman of God

  • Genre/Sub-genre – Mystery, thriller, religion, suspense, adult, Christian fiction, mystery thriller
  • Content warnings – N/A
  • No. of pages – 362
  • First publication – September, 2016
  • Goodreads rating – 3.84

Brigid Fitzgerald has faced a life of trials and tribulations, from a difficult childhood with drug-addled parents to a career as a doctor on the frontlines of war-torn Sudan. Her faith in God has only grown stronger through the years, but it must be put to the test again as those who fear that the Church has lost its way have made her a target.

Ever since I read the likes of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code , I’ve been fascinated with books inspired by religious history and mythology. That’s how I stumbled across Patterson’s Woman of God, which left me reeling from the story about politics in the highest institution of religious power in the world, and about one’s personal relationship with religion. 

I love when FMCs disrupt things (especially patriarchal institutions) and I had a good laugh reading this book as Brigid, our FMC, pretty much wreaks havoc in Rome. She is called for an audience with His Holiness Pope Gregory XVII for starting a movement to modernize Roman Catholic views, and she does NOT hold back. 

What I enjoyed the most about this book was the soft portrayal of a woman’s evolving relationship with God and faith because it was fascinating how Brigid’s character arc took shape with her faith. Her character development itself was very fast paced (true to the classic Patterson style) and it kept me gripped throughout the novel. 

I’m used to Patterson’s harsh-edged crime thrillers, so it came as a surprise when this story broke my heart with the personal trials that Brigid went through. The portrayal of loss and grief was so acute that for a second I forgot I was reading a thriller writer. 

I do have to say though that this book has some critical undertones of religion, especially about Roman Catholicism. If that’s not your cup of tea, I totally get it; but if you do decide to give it a chance, I recommend going into it with an open mind because it’s a fascinating fresh perspective on topics that have been hashed out for centuries. If you’re looking for a read that veers from conventional thriller and suspense novels, Woman of God might fit the bill.

  • Best for – Fans of religious history, fans of strong FMCs
  • Not for – Readers who are uncomfortable with religious politics

9. The Murder of King Tut

The Murder of King Tut

  • Genre/Sub-genre – Nonfiction, history, mystery, Egypt, historical, true crime, thriller, biography, mystery thriller
  • No. of pages – 332
  • First publication – January, 2009
  • Goodreads rating – 3.37

The life and death of the ‘Boy King’ has fascinated the minds of many across the decades. Howard Carter went a step further and made it his life’s mission to find answers to the 3,000-year-old mystery, and finally uncovered the long lost crypt. In The Murder of King Tut, Patterson unpacks these findings to disclose the truth behind the mystery.

I was digging around for some reading on ancient Egypt when I came across Patterson’s The Murder of King Tut. I was immediately obsessed because I’ve been invested in Tutankhamun like everyone was, for the same reason: the mystery surrounding King Tut’s death. This book was a thorough, intriguing collection of information and narratives that really opened my eyes to the scale of the mystery surrounding the Boy King.

I loved the cross-mixing of forms explored in this book. It starts with personal introductions by Patterson while the story is written in almost a report-style, making it an interesting take on true crime and historical writing. These liberties that Patterson has taken play a pivotal role in bringing to life the case of a murder mystery that has gone cold centuries ago. 

I also loved that writing this story meant that Patterson himself got to play detective, a role dedicated to his MCs in most of his other novels. He takes us on his journey of combing through history and Howard Carter’s findings to give us this compelling read. It’s not one of his fast-paced mystery thrillers, but it made me admire his skill as a writer all the more. 

In short, this book is such a fun and fascinating deep dive into a niche of history. If you’re a history buff, you would definitely love this book. If you’re not a history buff, you would still love this book because the mystery/suspense element is as appealing and fulfilling as any other James Patterson. Happy exploring, folks!

  • Best for –   Fans of Egyptian history
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for a fast-paced mystery thriller set in contemporary times

10. Filthy Rich

Filthy Rich: The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein – The Billionaire’s Sex Scandal (James Patterson True Crime, 2)

  • Genre/Sub-genre – Nonfiction, true crime, biography, crime, politics, history, mystery, biography memoir, adult
  • Content warnings – Sexual abuse, child abuse
  • No. of pages – 637
  • First publication – October, 2016
  • Goodreads rating – 3.38

Starting from humble origins, Jeffrey Epstein amassed wealth with his penchant for numbers. But even after rising to the highest rungs of society, he wanted more and this meant indulging in his pedophilic tendencies. Filthy Rich examines all sides of his case as he fell from grace, rocking the foundations of high society.

When Jeffrey Epstein died in his jail cell in 2019, I, like literally everybody else on the internet, searched high and low for all details of his vile actions. That’s how I came across this book that Patterson had written three years prior to Epstein’s death, detailing the shocking nature of Epstein’s conduct.

Nothing has ever really prepared me for the horrors of true crime. I know that these stories are part and parcel of the society we live in, but I can never seem to wrap my head around how these atrocities are real and all possible. However, Patterson’s writing on the Epstein case was so direct and to the point that I had to come to terms with the existence of evil and those who commit it. 

It was difficult to stop reading about the horror show (akin to how we cannot look away from a car accident) because Patterson’s recreation of interviews and conversations with victims were extremely informative and captivating. 

I also really admired that Patterson critically examined the justice system in this book, showing us just how lightly they handled Epstein’s crimes when they were first brought to light. This, coupled with Patterson’s criticisms of the rich and powerful, made for a compelling and bone-chilling read. 

I finished the book thinking, “What a damning portrayal of today’s society” so I want to warn you – this book is difficult to stomach because the story is about some gruesome crimes towards children. With that warning in place, I really do urge you to read this story for a very dark but much needed insight into the world’s capacity for unspeakable acts against humanity.

  • Best for – Fans of true crime
  • Not for – Readers who are uncomfortable with the depiction of child abuse

11. The Injustice

The Injustice

  • Genre/Sub-genre – Young adult, mystery, contemporary, realistic fiction, high school, mystery thriller, teen, thriller
  • No. of pages – 305
  • First publication – October, 2017
  • Goodreads rating – 3.51

Theo Foster is expelled when his anonymous Twitter account is used by someone to post a compromising photo of the school’s star quarterback player. Resigned to a life of working at the local mini-mart, he runs into Sasha Ellis, his long-time crush, who has also been expelled for a crime she didn’t commit. Teaming up together, they decide to uncover the truth behind who set them up.

I haven’t read a lot of Young Adult mysteries because I haven’t come across well-recommended ones, but since The Injustice is a James Patterson product, I decided to give it a go. I was so thrilled to find that this was a Pretty Little Liars meet The Breakfast Club kind of a book because I loved both of them as a teen. 

Right from the start, I enjoyed the friendships between the group of students expelled from their high school for various reasons. They are so different from each other that they wouldn’t have been friends in another lifetime, but in the book, their common experience brings them together. Then they have to learn to put up with each other to find out who used Theo’s social media account to upload a compromising video of Parker, in order to clear their names. 

Our MMC, Theo, had excellent character development. He’s no perfect teenager by any means, and Patterson expertly captures the conflicting nature of young adulthood. Theo grew to be resilient and learned to fight back, and I was so moved by the way he handled the challenges that life threw at him. 

Similar to Theo’s, the storylines of two of the other three MCs were also great. I loved reading about Jude’s struggles with his sexuality and Parker’s personal story, but I was not a fan of Sasha’s storyline because the twist at the end about her home life came off a bit unnecessary. There was absolutely no need to give her that character arc, and then just leave us hanging there with no explanation or resolution. 

However, if you’re looking for an easy-read YA mystery, this is the book for you. It has some beautiful explorations of friendship and an interesting plot, so it’ll quickly fill up your slow weekends!

  • Best for – Fans of YA mysteries
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for a mature mystery/crime thriller

12. Humans, Bow Down

Humans, Bow Down

  • Genre/Sub-genre – Science fiction, dystopia, young adult, thriller, post apocalyptic, fantasy, mystery, adult
  • No. of pages – 416
  • First publication – February, 2017
  • Goodreads rating – 3.07

Hu-bots, originally created by humans as perfect versions of themselves, have waged war against humankind and won. Under the hu-bot rule, the remaining humans are either imprisoned or forced to work as servants. One teenage girl, Six, unknowingly holds the device that can change everything, but will the hu-bots get to her before she realizes its potential?

From Divergent to The Hunger Games, I love reading post-apocalyptic dystopian novels which show the alternative worlds that humans can create, and the fight to ensure that they are just and fair. That’s why I decided to give Humans, Bow Down a go, and I was completely taken by it. 

One thing I really enjoyed about this book was Six’s character development. In a post-apocalyptic world where humans are enslaved to robots, she unknowingly holds the secret to a device that could change everything because she’s the granddaughter of the inventor of the first original robot. We get to see how she tries to do right by humankind while dealing with the trauma of being kicked out of her family and the hu-bot war that nearly wiped down humanity; I was impressed by the high stakes and the challenges they presented, especially in a YA book. 

I also really loved the symbolism in this book because Patterson used symbols to draw parallels between the dystopian world of the novel and the world we live in today – like the modern-day class structure, for example. It’s a bit of a jarring outlook on reality but I like it when authors force me to see the world in a different light. That’s what reading’s all about, right?

The novel was really rushed though. I think a great dystopian novel is one that properly fleshes out the world, the plot, and the characters so we can connect with the story. In Humans, Bow Down, there’s no space for this to happen because Patterson’s classic short chapters aren’t structured for comprehensive worldbuilding. 

However, it’s still a fresh take on a common dystopian trope of robots ruling the world with its symbolism, the FMC, and the reflections it left me with. So if you’re looking for a fast-paced YA dystopian novel with a strong FMC, this is the book for you.

  • Best for – Fans of YA dystopian genre
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for slow-paced dystopian books

And that’s my list of the best James Pattersons! Whether you’re new to reading or a seasoned bookaholic, Patterson has something for everyone from true crime to mystery thrillers to romances. Pick up your next Patterson read to dive into worlds of crime, shrouded by mystery and thrill.

What Are the Must Read James Patterson Books?

Patterson’s Alex Cross series is his most popular one, and its first book, Along Came a Spider , is definitely a must read. Many Patterson fans were indoctrinated into the fanbase through this book and it remains a winner, even today. 

The NYPD Red series is another one of his most famous works, and the biggest James Patterson fans will tell you that the fifth installment in this series – Red Alert – should not be missed. 

From his recent works, Filthy Rich follows the shocking true crime tale of Jeffrey Epstein. The depiction of America’s richest communities and the scandal that rocked their foundation is a must read.

What to Read Next

If you enjoyed my list of James Patterson books, especially ones from the true crime/mystery thriller genres, then my list of Harlan Coben books might feature your next mystery read!

Along Came a Spider is considered his best book because it’s wildly popular – it’s the most reviewed Jamed Patterson book on Goodreads and it has over 200 published editions.

James Patterson is mostly known for his thriller and suspense novels.

James Patterson has written many series of novels that can be read as stand-alones, so you can read any book without too many confusions. That said, it’s good to start a series with its first book. For example, you can start the Alex Cross series with Along Came a Spider , Women’s Muder Club series with 1st to Die , the Private series with Private , the NYPD Red series with NYPD Red , and the Maximum Ride series with The Angel Experiment .

Along Came a Spider is the first book of the Alex Cross series, so it’s good to start from there.

James Patterson books are easy to read as the author draws us in quickly with accessible language and fast-paced action. However, keep in mind that though his books are easy to read, they contain serious and dark themes like crime, substance abuse, and psychopathy.

The Murder House , The Postcard Killers , Woman of God , The Injustice , and Humans , Bow Down are a few stand-alone novels by James Patterson.

Lee Child, David Baldacci, Robert Ludlum, and John Grisham have a similar writing style and write in similar genres.

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How James Patterson Became the World’s Best-Selling Author

By Laura Miller

An illustration of James Patterson sitting with piles of books

“Man, do I have stories to tell,” James Patterson writes in his new autobiography, “ James Patterson ” (Little, Brown). The best-selling author does serve up stories, lots of them; the book is a grab bag of anecdotes, many of which have the tone and the import of a humorous icebreaker in a Rotary Club speech. There was the time that Patterson and a fellow altar boy—Patterson grew up in a devoutly Catholic family—almost got caught with a stash of unconsecrated Communion hosts that his friend had squirrelled away for post-Mass snacking. Or the time that, as a junior in college, he went to a Broadway production of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” and the woman seated next to him began stroking his leg, distracting him from the performance. Or the time he and a buddy were caddying for a surly golf pro at a country club in Patterson’s home town of Newburgh, New York, and the buddy stole one of the pro’s balls—while it was in play.

Because Patterson has been selling more books than any other living author for many years now, these tidbits often involve famous actors, politicians, and recording artists. Patterson has almost as many names to drop as he does stories to tell, although the celebrity encounters tend to be less amusing than his boyhood escapades. Serena Williams makes a brief appearance on a plane, whispering to Patterson of the other passengers, “They want my autograph, but I want yours.” Patterson once had a meeting with Tom Cruise, who was “smart and a total pleasure to talk to,” and also “not that short,” although nothing much came of the potential collaboration they discussed. (He relates a similarly anticlimactic meeting with Warren Beatty.) Hugh Jackman and Charlize Theron, Patterson tells us, “both look amazing in real life. Also, they don’t seem full of themselves.”

These stories aren’t very interesting, but Patterson himself is. As with many popular authors, his success—his books have sold more than four hundred million copies—rankles those who wish the reading masses had different tastes. Critics complain about his generic characters, his workmanlike, plot-driven prose, and, above all, his practice of churning out multiple titles per year with the aid of co-writers. This productivity is the secret of Patterson’s success. He has published two hundred and sixty Times best-sellers, and Publishers Weekly has determined that he is the best-selling author of the past seventeen years. And yet no Patterson title made the magazine’s list of the hundred and fifty best-selling books since 2004. The number of titles is the key. Like the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which, in the early twentieth century, produced hundreds of novels for young readers, featuring such characters as Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, Patterson supplies detailed outlines for his books. His co-writers then flesh out these narrative skeletons into installments of popular series that include the Women’s Murder Club (a crime-solving group of friends in San Francisco) and Michael Bennett (a police detective in New York City with ten adopted children). But, where the Stratemeyer Syndicate masked its legion of ghostwriters behind collective pseudonyms like Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon, Patterson credits his co-writers, even if his eminently bankable name appears in much larger type on their books’ covers.

As frustrating as “James Patterson” can be to read if you’d like to know more about how Patterson came to create his publishing empire, the book does generate some sympathy for its author. Patterson is keenly aware of the disdain heaped on his work, and he seems to feel every slight. In 2009, Stephen King described him as a “terrible writer,” and Patterson occasionally starts speaking engagements by joking, “Hi, I’m Stephen King.” In 2016, Patterson planned to publish a novella titled “The Murder of Stephen King” but withdrew it after King’s representatives complained. (In “James Patterson,” he insists that King is the hero of the novella and “ doesn’t get murdered .”) But Patterson will have you know that he is not a philistine. A reluctant reader throughout his childhood, he fell in love with books while working the night shift as an aide at a psychiatric hospital; he recounts devouring the work of James Joyce and Gabriel García Márquez, but also writers offbeat enough (John Rechy, Evan S. Connell, Stanley Elkin) to ward off suspicions that he’s just dropping more names.

“I was a full-blown, know-it-all literary snob,” Patterson writes of himself back then, describing a guy who looked down on the sort of genre fiction he now writes. But how to communicate to other literary snobs that he does indeed appreciate the great novelists, thank you very much, and yet avoid implying that he thinks less of pulp fiction and those who prefer it—namely, his own fans? It isn’t easy to defend yourself without coming across as defensive. Patterson is rich and famous , and things would be easier for him if he didn’t care what King or some literary critic says about him, but he clearly does, despite his efforts to hide it. Perhaps this is why “James Patterson” contains so little about its author’s writing processes and strategies.

Patterson’s thrillers may be formulaic, but if anybody could write them everybody would, and Patterson would not be selling millions of books a year. Some inkling of the particular techniques that helped him attain this supremacy would be welcome. Patterson offers a few recommendations to aspiring writers: pare off every speck of fat and keep things moving along—fairly basic action-writing advice. He also instructs writers, from would-be novelists to elementary-school children composing book reports, to “outline, outline, outline”—the title of his two-page chapter on craft. Patterson’s breakout thriller, “ Along Came a Spider ” (1993), began as a full-length outline of the plot, and then essentially stayed that way. “When I went back to start the novel itself,” Patterson recounts, “I realized that I had already written it .” The short chapters and one-sentence paragraphs that became his signature style, and that are often the object of critics’ scorn, struck him as the ideal way to keep the novel “bright and hot from beginning to end.”

“Along Came a Spider” launched twenty-eight sequels featuring the Washington, D.C., police detective Alex Cross; it’s a series that Patterson writes without a collaborator. Patterson explains that he’d originally conceived of Alex as a woman, then got stuck. After he changed the protagonist’s gender, the novel “seemed to write itself.” But Alex Cross is also Black, like the politician targeted by an assassin in Patterson’s first published novel, “ The Thomas Berryman Number .” And in “Along Came a Spider” Cross’s race is more than just a bit of liberal-minded color-blind casting. For a commercial novel written by a white man in the early nineteen-nineties, “Along Came a Spider” is notably alert to structural racism and what are now called microaggressions. Cross protests when his investigation of the murders of three Black residents in his neighborhood in southeast D.C. gets sidelined by a high-profile kidnapping of two white children from an exclusive private school. When he and his partner show up at the school, he immediately notes that they are among the very few Black faces in the lobby. After Alex begins an affair with a white colleague, his sage grandmother tells him, “I do not trust most white people. I would like to, but I can’t. Most of them have no respect for us.”

Anyone curious to know how Patterson came to create his most celebrated character, what interested him in writing about the experience of Black Americans, and how he researched that experience will find no answers in “James Patterson.” (Anyone who wants to read about Patterson’s golf game, if such a person exists, will be well served.) Patterson describes the “thick folder of ideas” he keeps in his office, but not where he finds the materials in it. Does he have criteria for the heroes and heroines of his series? Rules of thumb for concocting a hateable villain? Types of conflict that reliably keep readers engaged? Tricks for getting the maximum effect out of the minimum description? Mistakes he’s learned never to make again? Wider or deeper thoughts about the thriller genre and what makes it so popular? These are mysteries “James Patterson” leaves unsolved.

Patterson’s common touch may have something to do with his onetime day job in advertising. After starting out as a copywriter at J. Walter Thompson, in the early nineteen-seventies, he rose to become the C.E.O. of the agency’s North American branch and held that position until 1996, when he left to pursue writing full time. Although Patterson refers to the quarter century he spent at Thompson as “advertising hell,” he seems to have loved it: the wild characters, the location shoots for TV commercials, the celebrities he met, the nutty campaigns like “The Battle of the Burgers” between Burger King and McDonald’s, a gimmick for which Patterson claims credit. There are more stories about advertising in “James Patterson” than there are about his writing process. (There are even more stories about advertising than there are about golf, which is saying a lot.) Patterson recounts the day he met with his publisher and proposed releasing multiple books under his name each year, a plan initially regarded with skepticism. He doesn’t, however, explain why he wanted to do this. “James Patterson” implies that its author is so overflowing with story ideas the only way he could find peace was to outsource them to collaborators—but why not just winnow that folder down to the very best of the bunch?

A 2010 profile of Patterson in the Times Magazine portrays him as a brilliant marketer closely involved in every level of the publication and promotion of his books. According to the profile, Patterson felt so strongly that “Along Came a Spider” should be advertised on television that he produced a commercial at his own expense. He urged his publisher to release the subsequent titles in the Alex Cross series with a signature style of cover art, making himself not just an author but a brand. This marketing savvy is another side of Patterson that’s absent from “James Patterson.” Instead, the author presents himself as a “blue-collar kid” (his father was an insurance salesman, a detail also not mentioned in the book) who lucked into the best job in the world. In the book’s first chapter, he ascribes his success to a saying drummed into him by his grandmother: “Hungry dogs run faster.” Yet the ravenous ambition that so obviously drives him is a subject he skirts again and again.

“One thing that I’ve learned and taken to heart about writing books or even delivering a good speech is to tell stories,” Patterson writes. “Story after story after story.” In “James Patterson,” the stories—a cavalcade of mostly trivial tales, often told out of chronological order and sometimes having little to do with the author—come across as a screen he hides behind. The book has occasional moments that pierce this veil, in particular three chapters on Jane Hall Blanchard, a woman Patterson lived with for seven years before she died of a brain tumor, at the age of thirty-nine. He describes holding Blanchard’s hand as she slipped away, then ends the chapter with “I can barely write these words, even now, after all this time.” It’s a rare instance in which Patterson’s brevity seems less an economizing measure than an allusion to a feeling too deep for words. In another moment of candor, Patterson admits, “My entire life, I honestly have had no idea who the hell I am. It’s still that way. I look at myself as just another idiot wandering planet Earth with no real idea what makes the world go ’round, no particular identity, just another lost soul.” And this is perhaps the most forlorn aspect of “James Patterson”: that a man so relentlessly bullish on storytelling seems never to have formulated the story of his own life. ♦

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