Last night I learned that James Patterson is among the artists who will receive a National Humanities Medal tomorrow night “for being one of the most successful American authors of our time”. Patterson is reportedly worth $800 million. This is well-deserved. He has written a book about Jeffrey Epstein, collaborated with ex-President Bill Clinton in writing the book The President Is Missing, often puts his name on books with other writers, and has been on the best seller list for years. Currently he is on it with Maxine Paetro as co-author of The 19th Christmas (Women’s Murder Club Series). I have been waiting for weeks to see his name on at least 2 best sellers simultaneously on The New York Times weekly list, but this has not happened….yet.
In summer of 2019 I was in a library looking for a book to read when I came across The Cornwalls Are Gone, a book James Patterson co-wrote with Brandan Dubois. I had never read a book by Patterson so it was time. I had just written in my trusty log this quote by the first wildly successful novel writer Charles Dickens. Dickens said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” I was definitely not feeling burdened, but I was curious to see why Patterson is so successful. I began reading.
The story was immediately propulsive and offered frequent surprises throughout. It was a blend of hot, contemporary subjects such as Middle East unrest and Mexican drug cartels. The non-essential male characters were all young, good-looking, and slim. The main character, Amy Cornwall, was a butt-kicking woman who traveled a lot to solve the disappearance of her family. Her husband, a slightly shady man, was less svelte and was ultimately forgiven for his negative involvement in the main plot. Amy performs some superhuman feats to rescue her loved ones, and the story is full of conspiracy and plot holes. I could not put it down for long and could easily see why people would read and enjoy it. I doubt that anyone would read it twice, but it had all the elements of a national bestseller and was one.
Will I read lots of James Patterson’s books in the future? No. Will I read more of his books? Yes, because I always try to figure out what makes some storytellers successful while others with obvious talent are not so much. Not having met James Patterson, I didn’t have a personal photo of him or of the book I read. I had to rely on free downloads of both. Amazon and others helped.