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James Patterson is more well known for his Alex Cross series of books, however I have read the majority and they do tend to get a bit samey, so I thought I would try another of his works. Black Market was one of his first novels, published in 1986.
The lead character in the book is Arch Carroll who, similarly to the majority of Patterson's leads, is a policeman who plays the game his own way and whilst having respect for his superiors, will break the rules if it fits with his own plan. A widower, Arch has four children and lives with his sister. Again, as with all most of Patterson's novels the female lead is tough and feisty, this time in the form of Caitlin Dillon who is a successful Wall Street lawyer.
There are numerous "bad guys" in the book, but the main two are Francois Monserrat and David Hudson. Francois Monserrat is a global terrorist and a man of mystery, who's true identity is not revealed until the end of the book. Colonel David Hudson is the main focus on the bad guy side; a Vietnam veteran who doesn't agree with the treatment the vets have been given since their return.
At the beginning of the book an organisation by the name of "Green Band" blows up Wall Street. Nobody knows why and the 'terrorists' give no clue as to their reasons. We are let in early on in the book that Green Band is consisted of a group of Vietnam veterans, headed up by David Hudson and that their reasons for doing so is because of how they have been treated since they returned from war, and now want to bring down America. However all is not what it seems, and we follow Arch Carroll's journey as he gets further and further involved in the case and the web of deceit that we find the country is run under, with links to terrorists and political corruption running rife. Can they save the day before the globe sinks in to financial catastrophe?
With the economic world in the state that it is, I thought this would be an interesting read, even though it was written over 20 years ago. The plot is good, if a little complicated in places, however I found myself not really caring about the characters much, probably empathising more with the Vietnam vets than the victims of Green Band! I found the revelation of Francois Monserrats identity to be quite obvious and I found the fate of Arch and Caitlin to be pretty weak.
It did take me about 100 pages to really get into the book (there are 400 in total) and in these first 100 I was not really inclined to read on. However I hate not finishing a book, and it did get going after this. The reasons for Green Band were quite clever, however the rest of the ending was fairly poor.
RRP is £6.99 but can be found on Amazon for £0.84 (!) plus shipping.
The plot is good, however there are less twists than in a normal Patterson book and the ending is fairly weak. I would probably recommend trying "The Midnight Club" if you wanted to read an earlier Patterson novel, which I enjoyed far more than this book.
Black Market is a dark and touchy thriller from the pen of James Patterson. The book has more recently been rereleased under the title Black Friday, and broaches the subject of Vietnam Veterans and respect and remuneration. Patterson is more famously known for his thrillers featuring Detective Alex Cross or the Women's Murder Club.
In Black Market/Friday, we see a basically good plot delivered unconvincingly by Patterson as a small band of Vietnam Vets hold the financial market of New York under threat as they seek to get what they believe is due to them for their efforts in the Vietnam conflict. As is usual with a Patterson book, he combines a male central character and a female one to stop what is happening and restore New York to a financial norm before the entire city and potentially the country is sent into financial crisis.
Patterson's earlier works are generally considered to be substandard in comparison to his later works. The emergence of Alex Cross in Along Came A Spider marked the turn into better quality production from him, and this stark thriller is one fo those lesser, former works. The rerelease of the book under a different title helped push the sales along, but essentially, the story from start to finish held little intrigue for me in comparison to some of his later work.
The writing style is as fast as we have come to expect of Patterson, and he set out early on to ensure that we as the readers don't need to wade through endless deep and descriptive paragraphs, and this, at least, is a welcome sight, as that would really make me want to read the book even less. The characterisation is where the weakness lies mainly, and the writing style doesn't help here, glossing over the characters as if they are hardly important to the plot.
Overall, I found this to be one of this weaker books, and the emergence of the series of Alex Cross books has helped with the quality as we have been treated more recently to characterisation and development over a number of books as opposed to witnessing the cramming of an impatient tale into a front and back cover with not enough room between them for what we get. If you want to buy it, Black Market (or Black Friday) is available from amazon.co.uk for £3.98, but I wouldn't recommend it.