James Patterson’s ‘Never Never’ Is An Electrifying Thriller [REVIEW]
February 24, 2017 1 Comment
After receiving devastating news, a female investigator is sent to a makeshift town in the middle of nowhere, a place where danger lurks at every turn. There she is given a suspicious new partner, tasked with finding out what is happening to a growing list of missing persons, and forced to navigate her way through a plethora of transient characters with too much time on their hands. With so much against her, will she be able to fulfill her assignment? And more importantly, will she make it out alive? Find out in James Patterson and Candice Fox’s pulse-pounding new thriller, Never Never.
Detective Harry Blue is James Patterson’s newest protagonist. She’s the top investigator in the Sex Crimes unit and is one of the feistiest characters he’s created. Similar to Lindsay Boxer of his Women’s Murder Club series, she doesn’t take flack from anyone and is happy to challenge the “glass ceiling” in all aspects of her life. Also, like Boxer, Blue is a flawed character, which makes her all the more authentic. Yet that’s where the similarities end. A skilled boxer in the ring, Blue can typically hold her own against any attacker, and she harbors an inner rage that needs to be focused. Since her own brother has just been arrested as the Georges River Killer, something she would never have suspected, she has a very good reason to be angry.
In an effort to keep her out of the media spotlight as her brother is detained, she’s sent from Sydney to the Never Never, a desolate place in the Australian outback, where she must shift her focus from family to finding out what is happening to a growing list of missing persons. She is also paired with Edward Whittacker, a partner she wasn’t told about and who she suspects has been put there as her watchdog, and the mere idea of it irks her. Soon they arrive at the large mining operation populated by hordes of potential unsubs with rap sheets as long as her arm, and it quickly becomes apparent that no one wants either of them there. With a very tenuous case and virtually no support from other law enforcement, Blue and Whitt must tread lightly as they navigate through mine management, security personnel, environmental activists, prostitutes and drug dealers to find answers. All the while, they have the sneaking suspicion that they’re being watched by everyone, including the very person responsible for all the disappearances.
Altogether, Never Never is an electrifying thriller that takes us into unfamiliar territory, aka the Australian outback, which is the very hook Patterson seems to be relying on to keep us turning the pages. As mentioned in the outset, Blue seems familiar in many ways, and yet is rougher around the edges than Lindsay Boxer and other characters he’s crafted. Still, as of yet she isn’t distinctive enough that she is particularly memorable. I did, however, find her partner, Whitt, to be mysterious enough that I kept turning the pages. Although they are connected through their careers, they are disparate enough that readers will question if this union will ever fully work, and we can’t help but wonder what Whitt is hiding behind his straight-laced facade of practiced perfection. It is this conflict between them that keeps the characters interesting.
Also, using the barren wasteland of the mine, a landscape taken right out of a Mad Max movie, as a backdrop is a smart choice. It is a place that seems to incite madness, primarily due to its isolation from society, which makes it dangerous and sinister, even though there is very little there but a group of transient miners out to make a quick buck. But in an odd way we come to care about much of this hodgepodge cast and find ourselves biting our nails as one by one they are picked off by the unknown villain. Thus the setting quickly instills within the readers a sense of foreboding that only grows as the story progresses.
Although this isn’t Patterson’s best novel, Never Never is an enjoyable and suspenseful foray into the land down under where no one seems altogether trustworthy and the danger is as tangible as the broiling Australian heat. If you love hard-boiled detectives, add Harry Blue to your reading list. She’s someone who grows on you, because beneath the tough veneer, in the end she really does want to save the day, no matter what it may cost her.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
James Patterson is the bestselling author of the Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Women’s Murder Club, Private, and NYPD Red series, as well as numerous stand-alone thrillers, non-fiction, children’s, middle-grade, and young-adult titles. He has sold more than 350 million books worldwide and currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most number one New York Times bestsellers.
He is the recipient of the National Book Foundation’s 2015 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, the Edgar Award, the International Thriller of the Year Award, and the Children’s Choice Book Award for Author of the Year.
His novels Along Came A Spider and Kiss the Girls were turned into major motion pictures starring Morgan Freeman. In 2012, Tyler Perry starred in Alex Cross, the film adaptation of the novel Cross. Movies have also been made of his young-adult titles, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life and Maximum Ride in 2016.
Candice Fox is the award-winning author of Hades, Eden, and Fall. Most recently, she has started writing the Detective Harriet “Harry” Blue series with James Patterson which began with the novel, Black & Blue.
Born and raised in Bankstown, Australia, Fox served as an officer in the Royal Australian Navy. She also taught high school as she obtained her undergraduate and two postgraduate degrees.