A Book Spy Review: ‘The Games’ By James Patterson and Mark Sullivan

51hgPM4P6hL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_Every four years, the entire world is captivated by one event. As all eyes turn to the athletes who give everything they have to represent their country in their respective sports, one man faces the opposite way, watching everyone else. 

For Jack Morgan, owner of an international security consulting firm called Private, the Olympic games are a different type of challenge. His job is to run security and make sure that all the athletes, government officials, representatives, family members, and celebrities are safe from the moment the cauldron is lit until they depart for their return home. 

Private has bureaus in major cities all over the world, making them an obvious choice for the Olympic Games committee. Their job is to make sure that security is tight and that it runs smoothly and effectively. With lots of people coming and going nonstop around the clock, twenty-four hours a day for sixteen days straight, a practical, yet thorough, security system is crucial.

Apart from the split-second when he caught a glimpse of the breathtaking monument on Corcovado Mountain, known unto the world as Christ the Redeemer, from the helicopter as he was flown into Rio de Janeiro, things started going sideways pretty much from the moment Jack Morgan touched foot on the ground. 

First up is the final match of the Fifa World Cup in 2014. As Germany gets set to face-off against Argentina for the football championship of the world, a doctor–unbeknownst to Jack and Tavia, a former Rio homicide detective who left the force to run Private Rio–makes a shocking discovery in his laboratory. 

A virus known as Hydra was found present in two deathly ill children, both of whom were brought to Dr. Lucas Castro sweating and shaking from high fevers. They were also found to have decreased function in nearly every major organ and then, after a brief period, both children died.  

The last time Hydra surfaced was three years prior in the Upper Amazon Basin. Back then, it carried a mortality rate of sixteen percent, but Castro believes that this time around, the virus has mutated to become even deadlier. 

When the hospital went to great lengths to conceal the fact that a deadly virus was present in an effort to stop any panic ahead of the World Cup, the doctor took matters into his own hands. His plan, though, failed when FIFA and government officials once again hid the fact that another person fell ill from Hydra. This time, it was a spokesman with FIFA, and he died in a private box during the championship match. 

When the story picks up twenty-four months and two weeks later, it’s revealed that Dr. Castro is still angry at everyone who worked to hide the fact that children had died from a deadly virus that makes Ebola look like a case of the common cold.

With the summer Olympics set to begin, he’s developed a plan that he believes will bring justice for the dead children who were swept under a rug, by releasing an updated version of Hydra–his own special cocktail that he’s been perfecting since the World Cup. 

With Castro’s sights set on the Olympic Games and the athletes and officials partaking in the events, it’s up to Jack Morgan and his Private employees to stop the mad doctor before it’s too late.  

My thoughts 

While Dr. Castro is working on the details of his plan, Jack and Tavia investigate a kidnapping and other crimes, which eat up a good portion of the story. My gripe with that is that it takes an awfully long time for the story to get where the reader already knows it’s heading.

Once the overall plot is revealed, and this happens very early in the story, then the secondary plotlines just feel like filler material. They’re not bad, but they’re not really needed, either. It’s sort of like taking a detour when you’re close to Disneyland so you can take in the scenery and look around. That’s fine, but wouldn’t we all be happier to just get to the park and hop on a rollercoaster?

I also wish that we could have seen more behind-the-scenes stuff between athletes at the Games. Instead, there’s some buildup to that, but the story then moves in a different direction. It felt like a missed opportunity, honestly. 

Those complaints, though, are all minor compared to the glaring plot-hole surrounding the motives of Dr. Castro. I still don’t understand what made a good, smart, caring man suddenly flip out and become an evil mastermind. At the same time–because of the recent scandals involving FIFA, and the concerns over the Zika virus outbreak in Rio–this is a timely thriller that doesn’t feel completely impossible. 

Overall, The Games is a promising story that teases readers with some strong early chapters, but it is ultimately plagued by inconsistency and an antagonist whose motives are far-fetched and head-scratching. 

James Patterson’s Private series has been really hit-or-miss in the past, and The Games misses in all the areas where it really counts. If you’re a fan of Patterson or this series in particular, then you’ll likely enjoy this story and the character development that’s in it. If you’re not, I’d say either skip this and wait for the next one, or go back and read an earlier book from the series.

Book Details

The Games is the eleventh novel in James Patterson’s bestselling Private series. While many readers could pick this up and dive into it without having read any of the other books, I would recommend first reading some of the earlier novels. Also, and this is definitely pretty odd and confusing, The Games seems to be listed online under another title, Private Rio. As far as I can tell, both titles are the same book. 

Authors: James Patterson and Mark Sullivan

Pages: 400

Publisher: Little Brown and Company

Release Date: June 27, 2017 (Order now!)

 

 

 

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