James Patterson and Mark Sullivan
Little, Brown and Company 2013
Private Berlin is the fourth mystery novel in the Private series. Consistent with other Patterson novels, this complex and layered European thriller grabs you from the start, and compels you to read. However, the often brutal subject matter is akin to watching a grisly accident unfold in front of you in slow motion. It can be hard to digest. Kindle version at Amazon
Chris Schneider is a highly trained and effective operative for the international investigation company, Private Berlin. Secretly bent on avenging a traumatic past, he goes missing. When he is found murdered and his body abandoned, a terrible and haunting secret from Germany’s dark history begins to unfold, putting more lives of innocents at risk.
The crack Private team including Chris’ colleague and former love Mattie Engle, scours his most recent investigations for clues to his disappearance. No one is beyond suspicion.
A particularly chilling character is The Invisible Man who executes for pleasure and necessity. He addresses readers directly as “my friends” which can be disturbing in its familiarity. Depraved and sadistic, he snares his victims using disguises and surprise, emerging from their past to first terrify them, then delight in their recognition.
The task of Private Berlin is to find out who he is, what drives his mission, and why was Chris targeted.
A lot happens in Private Berlin, maybe too much. Although containing some loose connections, compared to the main storyline, Chris’ cases are only mildly interesting, of limited depth, and pretty run of the mill. Mostly distracting, this reader could have done without much of them. Ditto for the red herrings.
Not for the faint of heart and described as “spectacularly violent”, Private Berlin represents a genre that does not appeal to this reader. Although generally good from a literary point of view, being fast-paced, and high on suspense and drama, it is not one of Patterson’s best. (This reader is not familiar with Mark Sullivan.)