Patterson, James 1947–
Patterson, James 1947–
(James B. Patterson)
Born March 22, 1947, in Newburgh, NY; son of Charles (an insurance broker) and Isabelle (a teacher and homemaker) Patterson; married; children: one son. Education: Manhattan College, B.A., (summa cum laude) 1969; Vanderbilt University, M.A., 1970.
Home—Palm Beach County, FL. Agent—Arthur Pine Associates, Inc., 250 W. 57th St., Ste. 417, New York, NY 10019.
Writer and advertising executive. J. Walter Thompson Co., New York, NY, junior copywriter, beginning 1971, vice president and associate creative supervisor of JWT/U.S.A. Co., 1976, senior vice president and creative director of JWT/New York, 1980, executive creative director and member of board of directors, 1984, chair and creative director, 1987, chief executive officer, 1988, chair of JWT/North America, 1990-96.
Edgar Allan Poe Award, Mystery Writers of America, 1977, for The Thomas Berryman Number; ThrillerMaster Award, International Thriller Writers, Inc., 2007, for outstanding contribution to the thriller genre.
The Thomas Berryman Number, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1976.
The Season of the Machete, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1977.
The Jericho Commandment, Crown (New York, NY), 1979.
Virgin, McGraw Hill (New York, NY), 1980.
Black Market, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1986.
The Midnight Club, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 1989.
(With Peter Kim) The Day America Told the Truth: What People Really Believe about Everything That Matters (nonfiction), Prentice Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1991.
Along Came a Spider, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 1993.
Kiss the Girls, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 1995.
Jack and Jill, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 1996.
(With Peter de Jonge) Miracle on the 17th Green, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 1996.
Hide & Seek, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 1996.
See How They Run, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Cat and Mouse, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 1997.
When the Wind Blows, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 1998.
Pop Goes the Weasel, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 1999.
Cradle and All, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2000.
Roses Are Red, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2000.
First to Die, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2001.
Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2001.
Violets Are Blue, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2001.
Second Chance, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2002.
The Beach House, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2002.
Black Friday, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Four Blind Mice, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2002.
The Lake House, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2003.
(With Andrew Gross) Jester, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2003.
The Big Bad Wolf, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2003.
Sam's Letters to Jennifer, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Andrew Gross) Third Degree, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2004.
London Bridges, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2004.
SantaKid, illustrated by Michael Garland, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2004.
Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (children's fiction), Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Maxine Paetro) 4th of July, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Howard Roughan) Honeymoon, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Andrew Gross) Lifeguard, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.
Mary, Mary, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Maxine Paetro) The 5th Horseman, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.
School's Out—Forever, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.
(With Peter de Jonge) Beach Road, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.
(Editor) Thriller: Stories to Keep You up All Night (anthology), Mira, 2006.
(With Andrew Gross) Judge & Jury, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.
Cross, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.
(With Michael Ledwidge) Step on a Crack, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2007.
(With Maxine Paetro) 6th Target, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2007.
(With Michael Ledwidge) The Quickie, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2007.
(With Howard Roughan) You've Been Warned, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2007.
Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports (for children), Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2007.
Along Came a Spider was filmed by Paramount in 1997, starring Morgan Freeman and directed by Lee Tamahori; Kiss the Girls was filmed by Paramount in 1997; Roses Are Red was adapted for film. First to Die was adapted for an NBC television miniseries; "Women's Murder Club" series was the basis for a pilot for American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. (ABC) television. All Patterson's mystery novels and children's books are available on audio cassette. Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment has been adapted for audiobook.
Best-selling novelist James Patterson is the former chair of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. Writing in Publishers Weekly, Andre Bernard and Jeff Zaleski described Patterson as "a novelist who has achieved fame and great fortune through violence-splashed, suspense-pumped crime thrillers."
After writing five novels with modest sales, including the Edgar Allan Poe Award-winning The Thomas Berryman Number, Patterson found overnight success with Along Came a Spider. The story of a crazed math teacher who kidnaps two of his students, the novel, according to Marilyn Stasio in the New York Times Book Review, "does everything but stick our finger in a light socket to give us a buzz."
Along Came a Spider, the first in what has become known as the "nursery rhyme adventures," introduced Alex Cross, an African-American police psychologist who figures into several of Patterson's thrillers. Cross, wrote Cynthia Sanz in People, "is known for his obsessive investigations and his ability to get inside the minds of the most deranged killers." Patterson explained to Bernard and Zaleski why a white author chose a black lead character for his mysteries: "It struck me that a black male who does the things that Alex does—who succeeds in a couple of ways, tries to bring up his kids in a good way, who tries to continue to live in his neighborhood and who has enormous problems with evil in the world—he's a hero."
A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that Patterson dedicated his eighth "nursery rhyme" mystery book, Pop Goes the Weasel, to "the millions of Alex Cross readers who so frequently ask ‘Can't you write faster?’" The next release, Roses Are Red, which reveals the identity of Cross's nemesis elicited the comment from Rebecca House Stankowski in Library Journal that "Patterson's formulaic suspense machine is once again in high gear, and fans of his usual breakneck plotting won't mind that the story is implausible and the surprise ending so surprising that any hint of motivation is sacrificed. They'll be waiting for the next installment." That installment, Violets Are Blue, finds Cross following a chain of vampire-like murders across the country as he attempts to find a pattern in the seeming randomness of the bloody killings. At the same time, the Mastermind is closing in on Cross, leading—as Kristine Huntley wrote in her review of the book for Booklist—"to the showdown fans have been waiting for."
In London Bridges Patterson features two characters from earlier books in so-called "nursery rhyme" series. The tenth book in the series has appearances by the eponymous villain from 2003's The Big Bad Wolf, as well as an earlier Cross enemy known as the Weasel. A contributor to Publishers Weekly wrote that "the book is a model of economy, delivering a full package of suspense, emotion and characterization in a minimum number of words."
Between writing Pop Goes the Weasel and Roses Are Red, Patterson wrote Cradle and All, the "reimagined" version of his long-out-of-print Virgin. The plot, described by a reviewer for Publishers Weekly as "an exciting and moving religious thriller," centers around two pregnant virgins. According to a real-life Third Secret of Fatima carefully guarded by the Roman Catholic Church since 1917, one of these young women may bear the Son of God and the other the Son of the Devil. "While not subtle, this novel tackles issues of faith with admirable gusto," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. Steven Womak, who interviewed Patterson for the BookPage Web site, called Cradle and All a "crossover" book, in which the author "ventured into an area few mainstream authors have attempted: spiritual millennial fiction." Another interesting aspect of the book is that Patterson writes through the voice of two different women. When asked if he felt comfortable doing so, he commented to Womak that he "grew up in a house full of women—grandmother, mother, three sisters, two female cats. I cooked for my grandmother's restaurant…. I like the way [women] talk, the fact that a lot of subjects weave in and out of conversations. Sometimes men are a little more of a straight line."
While continuing to write his "nursery rhyme" series, Patterson began a new series with First to Die, which he followed with Second Chance. This series—also written through the female voice and from women's points of view—revolves around a Women's Murder Club consisting of a detective, an assistant district attorney, a reporter, and a medical examiner. Kristine Huntley, reviewing the second book for Booklist, commented: "Ás with Patterson's best novels, the surprises keep coming until the final pages. This novel solidifies the new series and helps guarantee that readers will flock just as eagerly … as they do to the Alex Cross novels."
Mary, Mary also features black police psychologist Alex Cross. Vacationing in Disneyland with his family, Cross is asked to help the Los Angeles police work on the case of slain and mutilated actress Antonia Schifman, whose chauffeur has also been murdered, along with a prominent movie producer. Although a person named Mary Smith is sending e-mails to the Los Angeles Times claiming responsibility for the murders, Cross is not sure that Mary is the real killer—or even if the confessed murderer is really a woman. Writing in Booklist, Kristine Huntley commented: "The thrills in Patterson's latest lead to a truly unexpected, electrifying climax."
In Cross readers flash back in time and get a detailed account of the murder of Alex Cross's wife, Maria, in 1993. In the present story, Cross is asked to help former partner John Simpson on a case involving a serial rapist of Georgetown coeds. Maria's killer was never found, but Cross soon discovers that there may be a link between the current case and his wife's death. In a review of Cross in Booklist, Mary Frances Wilkens commented: "Even as the story whips by with incredible speed, Patterson manages to pack it full of suspense, emotion, and a resolution that … carries the author's trademark teaser" of more to come.
Patterson delves into the romance genre with Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas and the similarly themed Sam's Letters to Jennifer. The latter concerns the recently widowed Jennifer, a Chicago newspaper columnist whose grief is compounded by the failing health of her beloved grandmother, Sam. When Sam falls into a coma, Jennifer rushes to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to care for her. To her surprise, she discovers a stack of letters Sam has written for her, which outline the grandmother's life story. The letters reveal that Sam's marriage was less than ideal and the love of her life was actually a man with whom she had an affair many years before. Jennifer, still reeling from the loss of her own husband, takes comfort in the letters and develops a friendship with Sam's neighbor Brendan. The novel quickly hit the bestseller list, firmly establishing Patterson as a successful cross-over genre novelist. As a romance novel, it is "cut from the same sentimental cloth" as its predecessor, wrote a contributor to Publishers Weekly, the critic calling Sam's Letters to Jennifer "compulsively readable." Kristine Huntley, writing in Booklist, appreciated Patterson's trademark surprise ending, which she found "unexpected, touching, and satisfying."
Ken Bolton introduced his Library Journal review of Lifeguard by writing that "Patterson's latest output … is the quintessential summer read." The story follows a lifeguard named Ned Kelly, whose idyllic beach life is suddenly transformed when he accepts a job helping some friends commit an art heist. Shortly thereafter, his co-conspirators, as well as his girlfriend, are all found murdered, and Kelly's name gets added to the F.B.I.'s Most Wanted list. A contributor to Publishers Weekly wrote: "It's a twisty story that will engage the interest of beach-goers everywhere."
Patterson worked with Howard Roughan to write Honeymoon, another crime story, this time featuring F.B.I. agent John O'Hara, who is searching for a serial killer named Nora Sinclair. The plot twists and turns as Sinclair manages to seduce her tracker, a fact that, as a Publishers Weekly contributor commented, makes "the narrative … nearly impossible to stop reading." The reviewer went on to write that Honeymoon contains "two of Patterson's most complex characters yet."
Turning to younger readers in 2005, Patterson produced the science-fiction-oriented thriller Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment. The story involves six children who are part human and part bird. The mutants are on a secret mission to save another child, named Angel, from rogue mutants. A Library Bookwatch contributor wrote that, while the book is a "departure from Patterson's usual formula … it shouldn't be missed."
Commenting on his effort in juvenile fiction, the author told Booklist contributor Stephanie Zvirin: "There's a crisis in this country to get kids reading. There's not enough today to compete with screens." Patterson continues the adventure of his young mutants in Maximum Ride: School's Out—Forever. In this installment, Fang, one of the mutant children, is injured and taken to hospital, resulting in an appearance by the FBI to investigate the child who is obviously not completely human. FBI agent Anne Walker takes the winged children, or "flock," home to her country farm to help them live a normal live, with the kids going to school and simultaneously looking for their birth parents. However, things begin to go wrong when the children are betrayed and once again find themselves in danger from their archenemies, the Erasers. Booklist contributor Diana Tixier Herald wrote that the author "once again demonstrates his ability to write page-turning action scenes." A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that many "questions are yet unanswered, leaving readers breathless for the follow-up to this action-packed page-turner."
Patterson has also continued to produce novels in collaboration with several other writers. For example, Patterson and Maxine Paetro are the joint authors of 4thof July, part of the "Women's Murder Club" series of books. This fourth installment in the series features Lt. Lindsay Boxer of the San Francisco Police Department, who finds herself charged with police brutality while involved in the investigation of a series of murders. "Heroic super-sleuthing, a steadily gripping plot line and 146 snappy chapters add up to suspense fiction euphoria," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor.
In Beach Road, written by Patterson and Peter de Jonge, who collaborated with Patterson on the earlier novel The Beach House, three locals in the Hamptons, New York, are murdered over the Labor Day weekend and suspicion falls on a local black basketball star from a poor family. It is up to down-and-out lawyer Tom Dunleavy to prove Dante Halleyville's innocence. He soon learns of a connection between the local cops and a drug dealer. Huntley, writing in Booklist, referred to the thriller as "gripping" and went on to note: "The novel races toward a conclusion so shocking that even longtime Patterson devotees won't see it coming."
In what is proposed as another new series, Patterson and coauthor Michael Ledwidge introduce Michael Bennett, a New York cop raising ten children on his own. The novel, Step on a Crack, finds Michael's wife dying in a hospital from cancer as he struggles with his children. Before long, Michael finds he has more troubles as he grapples with the case of the Neat Man, a clever killer whose many "A-list" victims include a former first lady of the United States and a pop singer. However, the Neat Man has a much bigger plan in mind when he traps the late first lady's millionaire friends in the church where her funeral is being conducted. "Totally gripping and downright impossible to put down, this is a promising start to a potential new series," wrote Kristine Huntley in Booklist.
During their interview, Womak also asked Patterson about his writing style and whether he made a conscious decision to write in a "decidedly unliterary" manner, although he studied classic literature in the doctoral program at Vanderbilt University. Patterson responded in the affirmative: "I read Ulysses and figured I couldn't top that, so I never had any desire to write literary fiction." At about the age of twenty-six, Patterson explained, he read The Exorcist and The Day of the Jackal. "And I went, Ooh! This is cool. I like these…. And I set out to write that kind of book, the kind of book that would make an airplane ride disappear."
A contributor to Publishers Weekly called Patterson "always a generous author (lots of plot and intrigue) if not a stylish one." Patterson told Bernard and Zaleski that in his early books "I was writing sentences, and some of the sentences were good. What I've learned over time is telling stories…. Ideally, somewhere along the line, I'd like to write sentences that tell a story." In a review for Violets Are Blue in the New York Times, Janet Maslin commented that much of the popularity Patterson finds among his audience can be attributed to his "shorthand approach." Maslin added: "This author likes simple sentences. He keeps his chapters quick and neat. It is very easy to read them. Nobody has to think hard. And the dialogue is uncomplicated, too. ‘Martha! There's something behind me!’ exclaims one of the … victims. ‘Oh God! Run! Run, Martha!’ It's as if Spot were stalking Dick and Jane."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Book, May-June, 2002, Chris Barsanti, review of The Beach House, p. 76.
Booklist, November 1, 1995, Donna Seaman, review of Hide & Seek, p. 435; September 1, 1996, Bill Ott, review of Miracle on the 17th Green, p. 3; September 1, 1997, Emily Melton, review of Cat and Mouse, p. 8; August, 1998, Emily Melton, review of When the Wind Blows, p. 1924; May 15, 2001, Kristine Huntley, review of Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, p. 1708; October 15, 2001, Kristine Huntley, review of Violets Are Blue, p. 356; January 1, 2002, Kristine Huntley, review of Second Chance, p. 777; April 15, 2002, Kristine Huntley, review of The Beach House, p. 1363; September 15, 2002, Kristine Hutntley, review of Four Blind Mice, p. 180; February 1, 2003, Kristine Huntley, review of The Jester, p. 956; May 1, 2003, Kristine Huntley, review of The Lake House, p. 1554; July, 2004, Kristine Huntley, review of Sam's Letters to Jennifer, p. 1799; April 15, 2005, Kristine Huntley, review of 4th of July, p. 1413; September 15, 2005, Kristine Huntley, review of Mary, Mary, p. 7; May 1, 2006, Kristine Huntley, review of Beach Road, p. 38; May 15, 2006, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Maximum Ride: School's Out—Forever, p. 54; May 15, 2006, Stephanie Zvirin, "Man with a Mission. (Story behind the Story: James Patterson's Maximum Ride)," p. 54; October 15, 2006, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Cross, p. 6; February 1, 2007, Kristine Huntley, review of Step on a Crack, p. 5.
Bookseller, November 18, 2005, review of The 5th Horseman, p. 40; February 3, 2006, Joanna Trollope, review of The 5th Horseman, p. 10, March 3, 2006, Patrick J. Eves, "Horseman Rides High," p. 18.
California Bookwatch, July, 2006, review of Maximum Ride: School's Out—Forever.
Economist, December 13, 1997, review of Cat and Mouse, p. S14.
Entertainment Weekly, January 20, 1995, Gene Lyons, review of Kiss the Girls, p. 46; March 10, 2006, "Horseman by a Nose," p. 73; April 28, 2006, Jennifer Reese, review of Beach Road, p. 139; February 9, 2007, Jennifer Reese, review of Step on a Crack, p. 77.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2001, review of Second Chance, p. 1712; April 15, 2002, review of The Beach House, p. 519; September 1, 2002, review of Four Blind Mice, p. 1257; May 1, 2003, review of The Lake House, p. 636; June 1, 2004, review of Sam's Letters to Jennifer, p. 513; September 15, 2005, review of Mary, Mary, p. 998; April 1, 2006, review of Maximum Ride: School's Out—Forever, p. 353; September 15, 2005, review of Cross, p. 998.
Kliatt, March, 2006, Paula Rohrlick, review of Maximum Ride: School's Out—Forever, p. 16.
Library Bookwatch, June, 2005, review of Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment.
Library Journal, October 1, 1997, Charles Michaud, review of Cat and Mouse, p. 124; October 1, 1998, Rebecca House Stankowski, review of When the Wind Blows, p. 135; October 1, 2000, Rebecca House Stankowski, review of Roses Are Red, p. 148; July 2001, Margaret Hanes, review of Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas, p. 126; October 15, 2002, Jeff Ayers, review of Four Blind Mice, p. 95; July 1, 2005, Ken Bolton, review of Lifeguard, p. 70; October 1, 2005, Ronnie H. Terpening, review of Mary, Mary, p. 68; June 1, 2006, Michele Leber, review of Thriller: Stories to Keep You up All Night, p. 96; November 1, 2006, Jeff Ayers, review of Cross, p. 70.
Massachusetts Lawyer Weekly, August 7, 2006, Alan S. Pierce, review of Beach Road; October 16, 2006, Matt Harper-Nixon, review of Judge & Jury.
New York Times, July 24, 2001, Janet Maslin, "Love Story, or Is That Death Story?," p. 6; November 29, 2001, Janet Maslin, "Bodies Hang in California, and Bullets Fly in Florida," p. 7.
New York Times Book Review, February 7, 1993, Marilyn Stasio, review of Along Came a Spider, p. 19.
Orlando Sentinel, November 25, 2002, Ann Hellmuth, review of Four Blind Mice.
People, January 29, 1996, Pam Lambert, review of Hide & Seek, p. 34; October 7, 1996, Cynthia Sanz, "Jack and Jill," p. 38; Nov 17, 1997, Cynthia Sanze, review of Cat and Mouse, p. 38.
Publishers Weekly, October 30, 1995, review of Hide & Seek, p. 45; September 16, 1996, review of Miracle on the 17th Green, p. 68; October 21, 1996, Andre Bernard and Jeff Zaleski, "James Patterson: Writing Thrillers Is Not His Day Job," p. 58; October 13, 1997, review of Cat and Mouse, p. 56; August 10, 1998, review of When the Wind Blows, p. 365; August 2, 1999, review of Pop Goes the Weasel, p. 69; March 20, 2000, review of Cradle and All, p. 68; February 18, 2002, review of Second Chance, p. 75; March 18, 2002, Daisy Maryles and Dick Donahue, "Don't Get Mad, Get Even," p. 19; April 22, 2002, review of The Beach House, p. 45; October 7, 2002, review of Four Blind Mice, p. 51; February 3, 2003, review of The Jester, p. 55; May 19, 2003, review of The Lake House, p. 50; June 7, 2004, review of Sam's Letters to Jennifer, p. 33; July 12, 2004, Maryles, "A Passionate Patterson," p. 12; November 8, 2004, review of London Bridges, p. 37; January 31, 2005, review of Honeymoon, p. 50; April 25, 2005, review of 4th of July, p. 39; May 16, 2005, review of Lifeguard, p. 35; March 27, 2006, review of Beach Road, p. 58; January 22, 2007, review of Step on a Crack, p. 161.
School Library Journal, August 2006, Heather M. Campbell, review of Maximum Ride: School's Out—Forever, p. 127.
Time, March 20, 2006, Lev Grossman, "The Man Who Can't Miss: James Patterson Writes Four Best Sellers a Year. How Does He Do It? With a Lot of Help from Friends," p. 108.
Reviewer's Bookwatch, October, 2004, Marty Duncan, reviews of The Lake House, Four Blind Mice, and Jester; March, 2005, Gary Roen, review of Third Degree.
Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly, August 7, 2006, Alan S. Pierce, review of Beach Road; October 16, 2006, Matt Harper-Nixon, review of Judge & Jury.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (April 2, 2002), Steven Womak, "Stretching the Boundaries of the Thriller" (interview).
James Patterson Home Page,http://www.jamespatterson.com (June 6, 2007).