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James Patterson's literary collaboration with other authors has been a bit of hit and miss. Similarly, the same is the case with his forays into differing subject matter and angles of attack than we are used to with his work. Judge & Jury sees Patterson once more working with Andrew Gross in a legal thriller which goes deep to the heart of corruption and the courtroom and jury system.
FBI agent Nick Pellisante has been chasing mob boss Dominic Cavallo for a long time. Finally, he has the mob boss, known as the Electrician, in the courtroom with a seemingly watertight case, but the problem with people like Cavallo is that they have power that reaches in and out of the courtroom, corruption littering in its wake. When the Electrician does something that makes the nation reel, juror number 11 finds the case becomes more personal than before, and she and Nick become even more determined to give Cavallo what he deserves.
What I found about this story is that it promises much and sort of delivers, but I was left wanting more by the end. Patterson's writing style is as fast and fervent as it always is in his novels, but I couldn't help that, despite my inability to put it down and stop reading at any point, the book needed a bit more courtroom attention and less of the action.
However, this is Patterson's style, and I shouldn't expect a John Grisham style novel from him, no matter what I am used to. The authors attack the tale with no holds barred and the characterisation is powerful despite the fact that the fast pace limits it somewhat. The combination of a hero and a heroine is a formula that historically works for Patterson, and crime boss Cavallo does come across as very scary, and I had to reel my mind in from the endless possibilties that corruption can do.
There are points where the authors go a little bit over the top, and the plot does become a bit unbelievable, but then this is fiction, and we must grant the authors a certain licence to play with our imaginations. I do recommend reading this book. I was impressed on the whole, but there was still that feeling that I wanted more from the courtroom scenes and that it had been glossed over a bit too much. I know that this is Patterson's style, but it still bugged me a bit.
Judge & Jury gets a 3 star rating from me. It is a high 3 star rating, verging on 4 stars, but the disappointment factor by the end swayed it. Judge & Jury is available from amazon.co.uk for £5.99.
FBI agent Nick Pellisante finally gets notorious mafia boss Dom Cavello on trial. Whilst there, he becomes attracted to one of the jurors.
Ive been a fan of James Patterson for a long time. Ive always found his blend of highly readable, fast paced books, likeable characters and good strong storylines very appealing. Recently, though, Ive felt hes started churning out too many books and the quality has, inevitably suffered. Sadly, Judge and Jury does little to reverse that trend.
But lets start with the positives, shall we? Patterson has a hugely readable and very natural style. Hes one of those authors who sees it as his job to tell a story, not to bog people down in lots of unnecessary details and descriptions. As such, he provides readers with what information they need and nothing more: place descriptions are brief and to the point, people are introduced and described briefly, before letting them get on with their part in the story. Best of all, Patterson is very good at writing conversations they sound very natural and normal, their patterns and rhythms very much like the conversations you or I would have with friends or colleagues. Fairly early on in his writing career, Patterson found a formula that worked for him, and has stuck to it closely.
Equally, the book uses very short chapters usually only around 2 or 3 pages per chapter. Again, this makes the book highly readable and gives it that just one more chapter appeal tempting you to read just a little further before putting it down. Writing in this way means that Patterson can move his plot along at high speed, chopping and changing between different characters or situations to keep the interest levels up and to pique our attention with a new plot development. Despite this, it never feels rushed or unnatural. It keeps things interesting for the reader, as well as keeping them on their toes! At the same time, you never feel there is so much going on that you are in danger of losing track of the plot. The other upside to this style is that Pattersons books are perfect for the journey into work or on the beach. Light, frothy entertaining and something you can easily pick it up or put down at a moments notice.
Judge & Jury also has all these characteristics, making it a fast, fun, if ultimately shallow read. Unfortunately, though, its not enough to rescue this particular title from mediocrity.
One of the downsides of having thinly-sketched characters is that it can be difficult to care about them. In previous novels, Patterson has got around this issue by having plots so fascinating and gripping that you just get swept up in the action. Here, sadly, thats not the case.
The plot itself is relatively straightforward (cop pursues mafia boss), but the book itself has a bit of an identity crisis. It never quite seems able to decide whether it wants to be a courtroom drama, a mafia crime story or a vigilante tale. Its almost as if Patterson had vague ideas for a story in each genre, but didnt quite have enough material for any of then, so decided to combine the three ideas into a single tale. Its a tactic which never really pays off. The first part of the book is by far the strongest. This is fairly standard courtroom drama stuff, treading very close to Grisham territory. It covers all the concepts youll be familiar with if youve read Grishams work (jury selection, presentation of evidence, shock witnesses and revelations etc.) and is a thumping good read. It moves along at a cracking pace, brings in lots of interesting revelations and has all the entertainment you would expect. Had Patterson stayed on this track, hed probably have had a much stronger title on his hands. Sadly, though, he seems to run out of steam and strikes off in other, less successful directions.
Once it leaves the courtroom, the book loses much of its momentum and for the remainder, doesnt actually have a great deal of plot to work with. From this point on, its both annoyingly predictable and more than a little implausible. There are gaping plot holes and unlikely coincidences which rapidly become annoying. True, this criticism could also be laid against some of his other books, but they had such engrossing plots that you either didnt notice until afterwards, or you just didnt care. Remove the strong plot element, and the weaknesses become all too apparent.
Ive already mentioned the paper-thin characters and they are another weakness. They are massively underdeveloped and hugely stereotypical and clichéd. For example, all the time I was reading it, I couldnt help but hear Dom Cavello (the Mafia boss) speaking with the voice of Fat Tony from The Simpsons! As I said earlier, strong, detailed characters have never been Pattersons strong point, but he has always made them likeable (or unlikeable in the case of the bad guys). You wanted to see them triumph, or be brought to justice, or die or whatever. Here, the characters are just bland. You really dont care what happens to them one way or another. Given that there are, essentially, only three key characters in the whole book, this is a serious weakness.
Dont get me wrong, Judge and Jury is not a bad book. Its just a distinctly average one and, coming from James Patterson, thats a huge disappointment. Its probably the very epitome of holiday reading simple, undemanding and relatively enjoyable. Its a book youll read once and it will pass the time, but youre unlikely ever to go back to. On that basis, Id recommend borrowing a copy from the library or buying it as cheap as possible second hand. Vintage Patterson, this isnt.
Judge and Jury
James Patterson and Andrew Gross
ISBN: 978-0446619004 (paperback)
Available new from £3.49 or second hand from 0.01p (Amazon)
© copyright SWSt 2007
I love a good book and know Ive found a good one when I stay up until 3am, even though I know Ive got an important meeting at work the next morning!
I have no hesitation in saying that James Patterson is undoubtedly my favourite author of all time and even though my passion and love of reading has spanned the past 23 years of my life, I have yet to find another author that wows me as much as he does and explodes with emotion in every chapter and even after reading all of his books to date, the next still manages to keep me hooked with plot twists and turns that I dont always see coming!
When the Hardback copy of Judge and Jury hit the shops last summer, I knew I had to have it and luckily for me, my boyfriend actually listens to me when I talk (most of the time!) and knows that if there is a new JP book out then he may as well buy it for me to keep me quiet so I dont bug him while he is trying to watch the football and so I dont stop at every book shop we pass just to read the cover! (The paperback copy is now in the shops as it always appears several months after the hardback but I can never wait that long so the majority of my JP books are hardback!!)
Anyway back to the book Im reviewing!...
Judge and Jury (co-written with Andrew Gross who also co-wrote The Lifeguard with Patterson) certainly didnt disappoint and had me hooked from the first chapter. I was uncertain initially what to expect from this book as it stated it as being a legal thriller which moves away slightly from Pattersons normal genre giving room for greater criticism. It all worked very well though and didnt feel awkward or uncomfortable. He clearly has a great knowledge of the things he writes about as the intricate detail of the plot portrays. He takes on other great authors already acclaimed at this genre and more than delivers. The book has JPs usual fast pace and deeply drawn characters. The cleverly thought out short chapters of just a few pages, common in his books, means the reader is automatically drawn to the next to see what happens and before you know it, youve read the first 50 pages in one sitting!
*** The Characters ***
Dominic Cavello - Godfather of the mafia. He is standing trial for the many crimes he has supposedly ordered. Cavello is a very disturbing character, completely unperturbed by the testimony against him.
Nick Pellisante - FBI special agent, and narrator of parts of the book. Nick holds a personal grudge against Cavello, and is determined to see him put away.
Andie DeGrasse - An actress and single mother selected for jury duty. She is not impressed in the least, and is determined not to be picked for the jury. She has a plan to avoid being picked.
Andie is another superbly portrayed character. She is witty without always meaning to be, and gets along with all sorts of people. She has a kind of "spark" within her, and loves her son Jarrod with all her heart.
Richard Nordeshenko - Outwardly a family man and keen chess and poker player. In actual fact he has been hired by Cavello. We, as the reader, are not told what it is he has been hired to do which makes the story even more intriguing. It is clear that he is really quite cold-hearted and will do whatever he must with no guilt or regret.
*** The Plot *** (excerpts taken from www.jamespatterson.co.uk)
Andie DeGrasse, an aspiring actress and single mom, is not your typical juror. Hoping to get dismissed from the pool, she tells the judge that most of her legal knowledge comes from a bit part curling around a stripper's pole in The Sopranos. But she still ends up as juror #11 in a landmark trial against a notorious mob boss.
The case quickly becomes the new Trial of the Century. Mafia don Dominic Cavello, known as the Electrician, is linked to hundreds of gruesome, unspeakable crimes. Senior FBI agent Nick Pellisante has been tracking him for years. He knows Cavello's power reaches far beyond the courtroom, but the FBI's evidence against the ruthless killer is iron-clad. Conviction is a sure thing.
As the jury is about to reach a verdict, the Electrician makes one devastating move that no one could have predicted. The entire nation is reeling, and Andie's world is shattered. For her, the hunt for the Electrician becomes personal, and she and Pellisante come together in an unbreakable bond: they will exact justice-at any cost.
*** My Opinion ***
I can safely say that Judge and Jury is one of my favourite Pattersons to date. The characters and plot are interesting which keeps the pages turning. It draws the readers emotions to the surface causing them to feel empathy for the victims and abhorrence of the bad guys. One of the great things about this book is that because I have read so many books, I can sometimes see the twists and turns that will happen and can predict who dunnit etc, and this is even sometimes the case with Pattersons books (though doesnt make them any less brilliant) but there are a couple of twists with this book (obviously I wont tell you what they are!) that I literally did not see coming and I would turn the page and then wham!, out of nowhere something would happen that had me literally gasping with shock or welling up with tears at the turn of events!
Whether youre an avid James Patterson fan or not, and like a good page turning, unputdownable (not sure if thats a word!!) thriller then I highly recommend this and dont think youll be disappointed.
You can pick up a copy now in most bookstores and on Amazon from £3.99, available in paperback, hardback and on audio.
Thanks for Reading
It's the trial of the decade - Dominick Cavallo, the modern-day Godfather, has finally been put in the dock, and there's enough evidence to make it certain he'll be convicted. Heavy security surrounds the courtroom, and Nick Pellisante, the FBI agent who helped to nail Cavallo, keeps a close eye on proceedings. But things quickly start to go wrong. Faced with anonymous threats, the jury is sequestered. Then, the bus taking them to their hotel is blown up, and only Andie Echeverra survives. Andie's child was on the bus too - so she now has the strongest possible reason for wanting to see justice done, not to Cavallo alone, but to whoever planted that bomb. She and Pellisante both know that will be difficult, but they can't foresee just how difficult.