Writing bestselling thriller novels on a global scale, James Patterson is an author whose name is synonymous with a certain brand of high-octane suspense and action. Well known for creating the Alex Cross novels featuring the eponymous FBI agent, he’s established himself at the forefront of the commercial thriller genre. Not just publishing suspense though, he’s also produced a number of romance novels over the years as well, along with comedy and Young Adult fiction. A versatile author, he’s a master of both tension and suspense, allowing his readers and fans to get lost within his work.
In 1976 James Patterson would come to publish his first novel titled The Thomas Berryman Number, and since them he’s written over 147 novels. The first Alex Cross novel, the series for which he is perhaps most famous, would arrive in 1993, and was called Along Came A Spider. These would be highly engaging thrillers, and he holds a Guinness World Record for holding the most #1 New York Times bestsellers, totalling in at 67. Knowing what audiences want is part of his gift, and he’s also adept at collaborating, which he has successfully done with fellow authors over the years. Notably he would write a book with former president Bill Clinton, called The President Is Missing, released in 2018, which would also be a thriller.
Previously Patterson has had twelve of his works adapted for film and television, many of his films featuring Alex Cross. Morgan Freeman would star twice as the FBI agent, whilst Tyler Perry would star once. There’d also be a television show called ‘Instinct’ based on his book Murder Games. Winning Edgar and Audie awards for his work, he’s received a lot of critical acclaim, with plenty of highlights in his literary career.
Best James Patterson Books
In my own opinion, these are the top five books that I feel James Patterson has to offer:
See at Amazon#5: 10th Anniversary (2011)
Called in to investigate a horrendous crime, Detective Lindsay Boxer has a long planned wedding celebration disrupted after a teenage girl is left for dead, along with her now missing newborn. That’s when Assistant District Attorney Yuki Castellano is called in to prosecute a young woman charged with murdering her husband in front of their two young children. Looking to find the baby, Lindsay must do whatever it takes, all whilst keeping off the radar of her new boss, as well as holding her own marriage together.
Marking the tenth title in the ongoing ‘Women’s Murder Club’ series of novels, this is a great addition to the thriller franchise. It’s also a brilliant stand-alone title, with it being extremely easy to pick up, yet difficult to put down, setting it apart as a noteworthy title. Exemplifying some of the best of Patterson’s writing, this is a good solid thriller, with a self contained narrative for fans and newcomers alike.
See at Amazon#4: Hope to Die (2014)
With his children and wife being savagely ripped away from him, Alex Cross must contend with a psychotic genius’s demands if he ever hopes to see them alive again. Pushed to the edge, he must do whatever it takes to make sure they’re safe, with his family being his whole world now and the only thing that’s important. Pitting himself against the dangerous killer, Detective Alex Cross must remain one step ahead in a deadly game of cat and mouse.
With a straight-forward premise, this crime thriller really takes the action up a level, in what is the 22nd title in the Alex Cross series. Thrilling the whole way through, Patterson is extremely gifted at building the suspense with his deceptively simple plot. The characters are very well drawn, getting straight into the action, delivering exactly what the readers want on every page.
See at Amazon#3: The Angel Experiment (2005)
All with no homes and no families, six children are ostensibly left to take care of each other, defending themselves at every turn. Now they must run for their lives, as Max Ride has the power of flight, along with her friends, and there are those that wish to control them. With no clear information on their enemies or their background, they have no idea where they powers came from, but they’re going to find out.
Setting up an exciting Young Adult series of novels titled ‘Maximum Ride’, this really does deliver when it comes to establishing the premise. Fun and entertaining, Patterson knows exactly what he’s doing at every moment, taking what might fall into cliché in lesser hands and elevating it. There was a film adapted from it, but it’s best to start with the books first, as these offer another side to Patterson’s output as a writer.
See at Amazon#2: Red Alert (2015)
Called in to deal with New York’s most high-profile crimes, the NYPD Red is an elite unit, and it’s up to Detective Zach Jordan to solve the case once again. He must also put aside his feelings for Kylie MacDonald, his partner who once broke his heart whilst they served together at police academy. After everything that they’ve previously faced together though, they must now deal with their most deadly challenge yet as a dangerous killer is on the loose.
The fifth title in the NYPD Red series of books, this definitely is the best with it managing to sustain the tension of the previous books, and raising it. Writing alongside the author Marshall Karp who helps by collaborating with Patterson, it’s definitely a team-up that works here. Keeping the action tense all the way, it knows precisely what territory it’s in, making the most of its premise in a fun and engaging manner.
See at Amazon#1: Along Came A Spider (1993)
A brutal serial killer is evading and outsmarting the authorities at every turn, despite the fact that he’s already been captured. Stepping up where others have failed, Alex Cross is pitted against Gary Soneji, with Jezzie Flanagan as the female supervisor for the Secret Service. With Cross and Flanagan embarking on an ill-fated affair, they must do whatever it takes to keep one step ahead of Soneji and finally put a stop to his games once and for all.
This was the one that started it all, and it’s a great first story for Alex Cross, arriving on the scene and making a mark that’s still felt today. Perfecting the art of writing addictive stories early on, Patterson keeps the reader glued to the action, regardless of what else they’re doing. With Cross jumping into action almost instantly too, this wastes no time in delivering high-class suspense from a world class author.
Best Authors To Read If You Like James Patterson:
Patricia Cornwell: The American crime writer Patricia Cornwell is known for her sense of realism when it comes to producing her novels. Writing series such as the Scarpetta franchise featuring medical examiner Kay Scarpetta, Cornwell pays close attention to detail through her own fascination with forensic science. Basing a lot of her work on real-life cases, she’s authentic and down-to-earth, creating both drama and suspense.
Michael Connelly: Perhaps best known for creating his series of Harry Bosch novels, Connelly is well regarded for his crime novels. Using the police procedural and the thriller as the template for much of his work, he writes grounded and fully rounded characters. Dealing with a whole range of different themes, there’s a conscience active in his work, making his stories compelling to read.
Harlan Coben: Creating top quality mysteries, Harlan Coben is known for his many twists and turns that always keep the reader guessing. Some of his best known books are from the Mryon Bolitar series, which follows a retired basketball player turned sports agent, who now solves various cases. Recently Coben has made a deal with Netflix, meaning that a lot more of his work is going to be adapted for television in the future.
Karin Slaughter: With her finely crafted thriller novels, Karin Slaughter is an excellent American crime novelist who excels in her genre. Selling internationally, she will also be seeing a Netflix series, with her novel ‘Pieces of Her’ being adapted for television. Creating franchises such as her ‘Grant County’ and ‘Will Trent‘ series, she has legions of fans all across the world.
Lee Child: This will be perfect for fans of action, with his gripping series of thrillers focused on the character of Jack Reacher. With films and a television series featuring his main protagonist, this is definitely one for those looking for more Alex Cross style stories. Whilst the novels are more focused on action than that of Patterson’s, they still have plenty of twists and turns along the way.
Best Podcasts If You Like Alex Cross:
Fully Booked by Kirkus Reviews – James Patterson and Gerda Saunders: Speaking directly to the author himself, this is great background information for any and all Patterson fans. Easy-going and laid-back, it’s a fun and informative show.
The B&N Podcast – James Patterson: This pretty much covers everything on James Patterson as an author, as he goes over his life and what’s led him to this point creatively. Examining each of his novels, he looks behind the creative decisions in all of them.
HBR IdeaCast – Bill Clinton and James Patterson on Collaboration and Cybersecurity: Speaking with the former president Bill Clinton, the two of them discuss their collaboration and what goes in to cybersecurity overall. This provides a background to Patterson’s ideas as an author, and who he is as a person.