Book publishing phenomenon James Patterson has enlisted veteran writer Marshall Karp to write this flashy cop fiction series NYPD Red. Having little experience with books written entirely by James Patterson, I’m unable to tell how much of this book is influenced by the powerhouse publisher, but my research suggests that Marshall Karps voice shines through loud and clear in this series.

In a city full of high-rollers, NYPD Red is a taskforce dedicated to dealing with the problems of New York’s rich and famous. After his partner takes some time off due to an injury, protagonist Detective Zach Jordan is forced to partner up with ex-girlfriend Detective Kylie MacDonald.

Outside the 19th Precinct building where the NYPD Red is based in the book

Meanwhile, the Mayor of New York has welcomed A-List Hollywood stars to the city to host the first ever “Hollywood on the Hudson” event. This glamorous event kicks off to a rocky start however, as a Hollywood producer dies while eating breakfast at a crowded, upscale Manhattan restaurant. The detectives are assigned to investigate, and it becomes evident that the producer was poisoned. Shortly thereafter a high-profile star is mistakenly shot while filming a scene. It becomes clear that someone is out to make an example during Hollywood on the Hudson, and the Mayor won’t be too happy about it.

The premise of NYPD Red is strong, and it’s presented as though we’re in for a good mystery. However, early in the book we’re introduced to the culprit (calling himself The Chameleon) and we begin to see and understand his motives. This eliminates any sense of mystery, but it does create some interesting and psychologically intense moments. It becomes clear that the The Chameleon is bitter at his failed Hollywood career, and now he wants to create the perfect script based on his own actions.

At times NYPD Red can read like a cheesy police action show; but then at other times there’s some brilliant dialogue that makes the setting feel authentic. New Yorkers are known to be blunt and outspoken; and this is portrayed well throughout the book. They also do a great job name dropping the streets where the action is taking place, which – for a New York lover like me – is great for looking up the scenes and getting some visualisation.

One of the major scenes happens near the Time Life building

Our main detectives are developed well throughout, and the romantic history between them can leave you wondering if there will be any romantic tension between the two. Kylie’s husband becomes an active part of the case, sharing insight as someone who works in showbiz. Detective Zach Jordan also gains a new love interest of his own.

But, while the detectives are often a cliché, our antagonist The Chameleon steals the show in terms of character development. Though he commits acts nonchalantly, his aura of insanity and unpredictability adds a flair and intrigue to him. By no means is he an intelligent criminal, and rarely does he actually outsmart the detectives. Once our detectives are aware who they’re after, it simply becomes a game of cat and mouse, but it’s exciting to see it play out with such an eccentric criminal.

NYPD Red concludes in a way that opens up the doors for many possibilities in the series, but it didn’t leave me eager to read the next one. I imagine I will someday when I need something laid back to read, but it didn’t leave me feeling like it should be a priority to continue.

If you’re the type of person who enjoys police based drama like The Wire, The Shield or CSI: New York then NYPD Red‘s fast moving flow, mixed with its sharp and inappropriate police banter will give you everything you need. The chapters are short, allowing you to fly through the book in mere hours. Making it a perfect read for long journeys and commutes. If you like your fiction with a little more depth then perhaps you shouldn’t be reading a James Patterson book in the first place. James Patterson books are often described as Fast Food Fiction; but that’s not exactly a bad thing because who doesn’t enjoy a little McDonalds every now and then?

NYPD Red James Patterson book cover

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