So I picked up a James Patterson book on cassette last week from the library. Dave listens to this guy all the time, and I thought I should check out what his writing is like. Usually I disparage these big name writers – Patterson, Crichton, Grisham, Cornwell – because, well, because I think I’m supposed to, I guess. Literature profs aren’t supposed to like this stuff, but a few years ago my mom introduced me to Patricia Cornwell, and I was hooked (at least for a few books before they really did all start to sound the same and before they started getting pretty gruesome). Now, I think I could really enjoy Patterson, especially riding in the car. There’s something great about a fast-paced novel that makes traffic more bearable.

London Bridges is the story of a Russian terrorist named “The Wolf” who launches a plot to destroy cities around the globe. On the case is FBI Agent Alex Cross, a man with some depth who tries to deal with the legacy of working so long in such close proximity to serial killers and murderers while also moving forward in this life. The plot unfurls when The Wolf blows a tiny town in the southwestern United States absolutely and literally off the map. The investigators must move quickly to save other cities on the planet.

I like Patterson’s style. He doesn’t hype up the action for dramatic effect; instead, he sets in motion a plot and storyline that drives the action and emotion without manipulating the reader. His characters are more complex than I expected – with Cross dealing not only with his child that lives a continent away but also the women who cross his path as more meaningful relationships than most Bond books/films allow, and the story line is not simple or predictable. No simple timelines or tricky twists here. Just a good story.

So, once again, I find myself chagrined into admitting that my own snobbery denied me something. I have thoroughly enjoyed Patterson’s book (although I will add the caveat that I might not love it as much on the page as I do on tape), and I expect I will “read” along with Dave on more of these in the future.

What about you guys? Any books that you were hesitant to pick up but ending up really enjoying? Any “popular” authors that you would recommend?

Cover of London Bridges by James PattersonLondon Bridges by James Patterson