Dear James Patterson,

Let me start by saying, I am a huge fan. Really. You’re awesome. I’ve read most of your books – yes, including the Confessions series. But, we need to talk.

I just finished your newest release, Alert, and I have to tell you, I think the good people at Little, Brown And Company just can’t say no to you anymore. Seriously. What the hell was that?

Alex Cross is a great character. He has flaws. Mostly because he is a stereotype that reads like The Cosby Show meets Beverly Hills Cop, but it is forgivable because the plots are great and the pacing is fantastic.

But Michael Bennett is barely a character. The ten children? The priestly father? The random love interest in the nanny? Not to mention your sudden obsession with Ireland. Seriously, did you go to Ireland on vacation recently and fall in love? It’s fine, the Emerald Isle certainly has that effect on people, but this feels like the writing equivalent of college students going on their European vacation and returning with an affected accent.

I know, it’s not like these issues haven’t appeared in the other Bennett books – well except perhaps the Irish obsession. That seems…new. But, the character’s issues have been apparent for quite some time. Yet, in this book the plot line was so ridiculously over the top that we can’t overlook the weakness of the protagonist.

We could perhaps forgive your ravaging of New York City. Although, really? You laid waste to the entire city and deposited the disaster at the feet of two people. Okay, fine, I can let it go – it certainly kept us turning pages. But why the hell did you send your detectives off to meet the Unabomber? Why?!

I think that may have been the moment I found unforgivable. Inserting a rant against technology, from the perspective of a real-life murderer, which your protagonist then guardedly supports, was a step too far. This theme of technology run rampant and used against us runs through the book, but then never really pushes the plot in any particular direction, leaving a dangling thread of WTF.

And this isn’t the only thread left hanging in Alert. Father Bennett, Priest to the Stars, has a moment of senility. Why? Because someone needed a way to humanize Bennett Jr? Who the hell knows. It’s almost like someone was provided an outline of the disasters to be included in the book with the note “put family stuff here”, “drop some politics on us here”, as the segues between the crises.

The worst part, James? I would still recommend your books to anyone who likes a good action adventure. I can’t get enough of them. I’ve already pre-ordered Murder House. But, I feel like you’ve gotten so big, that perhaps people aren’t comfortable saying

…and you need to know. Edit, James. Edit like your reputation depends on it.

Love,

Your Friends at Bitter Empire

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