Every month we feature a different author, publisher or bookseller who has earned the RLK! seal of approval! We will highlight and review their books/company as well as providing author biographies (where available) and publishing information. We hope you enjoy RLK! Spotlight On....

Author Bio:

Richard North Patterson's ten novels include the international best-sellers Degree of Guilt, Eyes of a Child, The Final Judgment, Silent Witness, and No Safe Place. His novels have won the Edgar Allan Poe Award and the Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere.

A graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Case Western Reserve School of Law, he studied creative writing with Jesse Hill Ford at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Patterson was previously a San Francisco trial lawyer and a partner in the firm of Doyle, Brown & Emerson. He is now a full time writer.

He and his wife, Laurie, live with their family in San Francisco and on Martha's Vineyard.



Books Published:

RATING:

Publisher: Random House

Review Source:

NO SAFE PLACE

In No Safe Place Patterson grabs a story straight out of today's headlines and then places his own bizarre twists to it to keep the story interesting. Once again, he provides us with a terrifically strong political/legal thriller that you just can't put down.

The plot has 1990s politics stamped all over it. We have a presidential candidate (his brother was assassinated right after winning the California primary 12 years before) who has a sex scandal coming back to haunt him only a few days before the election? (Hmmm, sound like anyone in particular???) But don't expect the same boring story that you can find on the news each night. No, Patterson has picked this idea and turned it into a first-class thriller. No Safe Place is an extremely entertaining and suspenseful novel.

Kerry Kilcannon, is the kind of rich, complicated character that Patterson has a knack for creating. He's successful and admirable, the kind of politician people naturally like. But he's far from perfect. And his past is coming back to haunt him. With seven days to go before election day, Kilcannon is about to get two big surprises.

One comes in the form of an ex-lover and an affair that is about to make headlines - big headlines - that he won't be able to shake; the other as a radical and violent anti-abortion demonstrator who has killed three people already, and who is determined to make an example out of the pro-women's rights and pro-choice Kilcannon.

The two plots simultaneously threaten Kilcannon's career - and ultimately his life - and are expertly told and plotted. Both share center stage and as the narrative shifts from past to present numerous times, we get detailed background information and perspective on Kilcannon.

Patterson is no stranger to this technique - having used flashbacks and narrative shifts in previous novels. In this case, carefully woven throughout the action in the novel, Patterson's narrative is a very large part of what makes No Safe Place such a successful novel.

While he has a reputation for courtroom dramas, this political thriller proves Patterson can write in any genre and turn out a terrific read.

No Safe Place combines elements from many genres including romantic suspense, political intrigue, family drama, and legal thriller. Characterisation is, once again, superb. If you're not a great fan of courtroom drama, this is the Patterson for you as the courtroom takes a back seat to political intrigue.

First class, top notch and excellent all round.





RATING:

Publisher: Random House

Review Source:

EYES OF A CHILD

San Francisco superlawyer Chris Paget returns for a gripping edge-of-your-seat ride in Eyes of a Child - easily one of Patterson's best novels.

Terri Peralta has been married to Richie Arias for six years. But now she's had enough of his manipulative irresponsibility. She's decided to leave him, and to take their daughter, Elena, with her.

Also, it doesn't help the situation when she realises she's in love with her lawyer-boss - the one and only, Chris Paget.

Meanwhile, Richie, a manipulative slimeball capable of deceptive charm, uses threats about Elena to try and force her to give up Chris. When she refuses, he begins to convince the judge he's a caring father who should have custody of Elena.

As Terri stumbles through Elena's custody hearings, charming, sociopathic Richie polishes his image for the psychologists and judges, extorts spiralling alimony and child support payments, sells his story to a scummy tabloid, and finally sues Chris's adored son, Carlo, for molesting Elena.

Terri wishes Richie were dead.

And, suddenly, he is.

And Chris is the main suspect.

The police have Chris's fingerprints at Richie's apartment, an eyewitness who saw him leaving the scene, and what looks like a clumsy attempt to stage an alibi.

Chris's lawyer has to make do with a wacky suicide theory nobody believes. The case isn't helped when Chris refuses to take the stand himself.

The trial is a stunning tour de force that will keep you holding your breath for 200 pages, but the most cunningly prepared surprises don't come until after the verdict is in.

The suspense is so good, it hurts!

They don't get much better than this.

The gripping plot and sharp dialogue make this book a winner. The plot twists keep coming page after page and the courtroom scenes are among some of the best you will ever read. This has it all: illicit affairs, sex and lust, murder, child molestation, a cute kid, and well defined characters.

Un-put-downable! Buy this now!





RATING:

Publisher: Random House

Review Source:

THE FINAL JUDGEMENT

Readers got to know a little about forty-five-year-old Caroline Masters in Degree of Guilt and Eyes of a Child where she played a minor role. But in The Final Judgment we learn much more about her as she steps forward into the limelight as our hero.

As the novel opens, Caroline is waiting for a message from the White House appointing her to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Finally, she has made it! And all she needs is a nod from the President.

But then, out of nowhere, her long-distant father gives her a call.

Just when everything was going so smoothly, her family comes back to upset the status quo.

Her father informs her that her niece has just been named the primary suspect in the murder of her boyfriend. The college-age Brett Allen was found naked, passed out from drugs and alcohol, with a knife in her hand, and covered in her boyfriend's blood. The family begs Caroline to return to New Hampshire to defend the girl.

The problems begin to mount quickly for Caroline. By taking the case, Caroline clearly jeopardizes her chances for the Court of Appeals appointment. And by returning home, she must face the memories and resentments of the New Hampshire crowd, including Caroline's high-school boyfriend who is, believe it or not, the prosecuting attorney.

But her niece's life is at stake and she's the only one who can save her.

Much of the suspense in The Final Judgement derives from the slow unwrapping of Caroline's past including the death of her mother and estrangement from her father. Told with a captivating style that makes the characters all too human, Patterson manages to weave another terrific thriller about the deep and twisted history of a New England family.

Top notch courtroom drama!





RATING:

Publisher: Random House

Review Source:

SILENT WITNESS

It's the late 1960s...

Tony Lord is the young star of the Lake City, Ohio, high school football team. He's young, carefree and has a girlfriend. Life couldn't be better.

But then his girlfriend, Alison Taylor, is found strangled behind her house and Tony's world begins to fall apart.

No one knows who the killer is and even Tony's closest friend, Sam Robb, suspects him of being the murderer. Alison's true killer is never found, and Tony flees his home town to forge a career as a high-powered, high-profile San Francisco criminal attorney and marries a movie star.

Zoom forward to present day...

Sam Robb is now a married father of two, assistant principal and track coach of Lake City High, and a local football legend.

Sixteen-year-old track star Marcie Calder is found dead on the shore of Lake Erie, and Sam is accused of the murder. He was the last to see sixteen-year-old Marcie Calder alive, and as shocking forensic evidence at the trial reveals, he is the father of her unborn child.

Tony is called back to Lake City to defend his old friend. But then a series of scandals slowly erodes Tony's confidence in Sam's innocence as Tony comes to terms with his own troubled past. Tony will discover things too disturbing to ignore - that Sam wasn't the only one in Lake City with a motive for killing Marcie, that small-town secrets can hide devastating betrayals, and that the past has a way of repeating itself...even in murder.

As with Patterson's previous work, Silent Witness is a novel with subtle characterisation and compelling criminal trial scenes. For dedicated Patterson fans, there's even some insight into the life of actress Stacey Tarrant. She's Tony's wife in the present world of the novel but was the lover of Senator James Kilcannon before the senator was assassinated (See Private Screening review). James was the brother of Kerry Kilcannon, (see No Safe Place review). Confused yet?

The story line is totally captivating, packed with surprises, and with a terrific ending. No Safe Place has everything: great storytelling, suspense, character development, and courtroom scenes. Patterson takes you on a great ride, keeps you on the edge of your seat and, naturally, saves the best for last. One of his best.





RATING:

Publisher: Random House

Review Source:

DARK LADY

In Dark Lady, the latest release from Richard North Patterson, we once again see his mastery of setting, characterisation, psychology, and story that makes him one of today's most original and enthralling suspense writers.

In Steelton, a struggling Midwestern city gambling for an economic turnaround, two prominent men are found dead within days of each other. One is Tommy Fielding, a senior officer of the company building a new baseball stadium, the city's one and only hope for the future. The other is Jack Novak, the local Mafia's attorney of choice. Fielding's death with a prostitute, from an overdose of heroin, seems accidental; but Novak seems to be the victim of a ritual murder. But in each case the character of the dead man seems contradicted by the particulars of his death. Coincidence or connection?

Entering the scene is Assistant County Prosecutor Stella Marz. Despite a harsh childhood with an alcoholic father, she has risen from a working-class background to become head of the prosecutor's homicide unit. A driven, dedicated woman, she is called the "Dark Lady" by defense lawyers for her relentless, and often ruthless, style. In fact, in seven years only one case has gotten away from her, and only because the defendant took his own life. She has earned every inch of both her official and her off-the-record titles, and recently she's set her goals even higher: to become the first woman elected Prosecutor of Erie County.

But that was before the brutal murder of her ex-lover - Jack Novak...

Suddenly, Novak's death leads her personal and professional lives to become dangerously intertwined. There is the possibility that Novak fixed drug cases for the city's crime lord, Vincent Moro, with the help of law enforcement personnel, and perhaps even with someone in Stella's own office. Plus, the mayoral race is becoming more bitter and threatens to undermine her own ambitions. Not to mention her growing fondness for a colleague who may not be what he seems. Add to this the lingering, complicated effects of her painful affair with Novak and his sudden death. And also the growing certainty that she is being watched and followed.

Making her way through a maze of corruption, deceit, and greed, trusting no one, Stella comes to believe that the search for the truth involves the bleak history of Steelton itself - a history that now endangers her future, and perhaps her life.

Patterson's sharp dialogue, subtle characterisation, and thrilling narrative all come to the fore in Dark Lady. Dense, knotty, and earnest, with liberal servings of kinky sex, political fixes, and Mafia wise guys, Dark Lady is a riveting story of evil, betrayal, corruption, and greed, filled with dark introspection, nail-biting suspense, and unexpected twists. It is a superbly crafted, provocative stunner. A must-read for thriller fans.

Buy it today!





RATING:

Publisher: Random House

Review Source:

THE LASKO TANGENT

William Lasko has it all. He's a self-made millionaire who doesn't take no for an answer. He's got wealth to buy his way, influence to force his way and the President's ear to smooth his way.

Lasko knows just the right strings to pull to get what he wants and when he wants it.

But no-one told the Economic Crimes Commission. The ECC wants to bring the untouchable Lasko to his knees for stock manipulation and illegal financial dealings.

Enter US Attorney Christopher Paget - he's the one with the task of making the dirt finally stick on Lasko. Paget has got his work cut out for him with a delicate balancing act of gathering enough evidence without over-stepping the line and alienating the White House. He has to play his hand strictly by the book and without resorting to the kind of tactics Lasko would use. But when Paget witnesses the murder of a key figure in his investigation, he begins to fear for his own life.

Because Lasko makes his own rules. And eliminating his enemies is Lasko's favorite....

This is Patterson's first novel with dynamic attorney Christopher Paget - the hero of Patterson's blockbuster novel Degree of Guilt and others. Once again Patteron's great style, intricate plots, excellent characterization and sophisticated dialog make this novel a must read.





RATING:

Publisher: Random House

Review Source:

PRIVATE SCREENING

Presidential hopeful James Kilcannon is shot dead right in front of his rock-star girlfriend Stacy Tarrant.

The nation is stunned by the violence and calls for justice.

Daring to go where all other attorneys fear to tread, head-strong and independent attorney Tony Lord comes forward to defend the shooter.

Pretty straight-forward so far, right?

Hang on to your hat...

As the trial gets underway - beamed to a live tv and radio audience of millions - out of nowhere springs a mysterious and ruthless figure, known only as Phoenix. He takes to the airwaves and takes the wife of a wealthy newspaper mogul and Stacy's manager as his hostages. Phoenix mounts a televised trial of his own, in which Stacy Tarrant and Tony Lord are helpless defendants. And millions of viewers are jurors.

And, unless his chilling demands are met, the Phoenix will also be the unstoppable executioner...

This is one of Patterson's earliest books and because of this, it suffers slightly with two dimensional characters and stunted dialogue. Still, it's a page-turner for Patterson fans who have read his other works and want to read all his novels. The plot is as intricate as his bestsellers and the use of the terrorist angle is perfect - full of fresh twists and surprises you would never expect. The plot drives this novel (unlike many of Patterson's later novels that are character based) and there's just enough thrills and spills to keep you turning the pages.

Private Screening shows an early insight into Patterson and highlights the skills that would be sharply honed and refined in later works. Not one of his best - first-time readers should try some of his other works - but still a good read.





RATING:

Publisher: Random House

Review Source:

DEGREE OF GUILT

The strength of Richard North Patterson's legal thrillers is characterisation, and Degree of Guilt, the novel that relaunched his career in 1993, features two captivating individuals: Christopher Paget and Mary Carelli.

Paget, the brilliant young upstart hero of Patterson's 1979 Edgar-winning The Lasko Tangent, is now a sophisticated trial lawyer raising a teenage son in San Francisco. He's a man to be admired: famous for bringing down the president in a financial scandal, he has settled into the comfortable, and lucrative, life of a successful attorney.

But then his life is transformed when his former lover (and mother of his son), Mary Carelli, pays a visit...

The novel begins in a San Francisco hotel room as Mary, now a famous NBC journalist, stands in the middle of author Mark Ransom's trashed apartment. Ransom is, or was, America's most eminent writer. But now he's dead.

As she tells the police, Ransom had uncovered new recorded evidence of an affair between a long-dead starlet and a now-sainted senator. While Ransom and Mary were listening to the tapes, she claims, he tried to rape her and she killed him in self-defense.

Mary turns to Paget to defend her in what becomes a complex case of missing and conflicting evidence. Old emotions are stirred between the two just as Paget begins to doubt Mary's innocence.

The suspense of Degree of Guilt is grounded in the twists and turns of the trial at the novel's center, but just as compelling is the emerging history of Mary and Paget, and Paget's struggles to keep his son out of the media frenzy surrounding his mother's case.

Not the most spellbinding of Patterson's books, but this is a solid courtroom thriller along the lines of "Presumed Innocent" and its strength again lies in the characterisations of the characters. The plot is intricate and the dialog believable. However, read The Lasko Tangent first, as Christopher Paget is introduced there. While the plot and the court action keep our interest, it is the characters and our interest in them that keep the pages turning.





RATING:

Publisher: Random House

Review Source:

ESCAPE THE NIGHT

Peter Carey has always lived the good life.

But he also has his own demons.

They're all in his mind and they stop him from dealing with life.

He can't deal with the family owned firm he is poised to head, his girlfriend, or the death of his parents.

These demons take on very twisted and real images in his recurring nightmares and the problems are further exacerbated by real demons from his own past - violent, ruthless men who will stop at nothing to prevent Peter from learning the truth.

Suddenly, the nightmare becomes all too real and Carey realises that this is one nightmare from which he can't wake up.

The twisted, violent force that had claimed his parents many years before now stalks him too. But the key to his survival lies locked deep in Peter's own mind. And he must discover it before the final night closes in. . .

Not the best work by Patterson, but still an intriguing read. The characters are not defined too clearly and the plot suffers from being about 100 pages too long. There's too many bad guys running around trying to be more evil than the next and the plot tends to get bogged down here and there. The climax, though, is well worth it.

A good read for the dedicated Patterson reader - but it wouldn't be the choice for the first-time Patterson reader.





RATING:

Publisher: Random House

Review Source:

THE OUTSIDE MAN

The outside man is successful society lawyer Adam Shaw. He's haunted by the murder of his father years ago and now he's a northerner in a closed town deep in the South that is jealous of its secrets. He finds the brutally killed body of his best friend's wealthy wife - and now his friend is missing too.

In this closed, privileged world where wealthy people will stop at nothing to maintain a genteel image, Shaw must gamble his career, his marriage, and his very life in a passionate quest for the real murderer - and learn the shocking truth about his own past and future.

This is an early work by Patterson, and it shows. The plot and characters jump around too much to keep the reader on the right track and this makes it very hard to care for those involved. The plot developments at some stages are cliched and easily foreshadowed and the characterisation is two dimensional.

The pace is a little slow in the beginning, but it certainly picks up. Sex, money, power and racism is what you'll get with this Patterson novel where everyone is a suspect. Adam Shaw is supposedly a lawyer - but you'll find most of the time he's playing a cop who is out of his element.

The ending, however, makes the whole novel worthwhile and certainly worth a read. The Outside Man is for dedicated Patterson fans only who wish to take a peek into an early work by a writer who was still refining his talents. For the casual reader, we would suggest Degree of Guilt or Silent Witness as better examples of Patterson in fine form.





Websites:

Richard North Patterson does not currently have an Official website.


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 RLK! Spotlight On...
Past Features

 March 2000: Ed Gorman Click here to view.
 February 2000: Harry Turtledove Click here to view.
 January 2000: J. N. Williamson Click here to view.
 December 99: Phil Rickman Click here to view.
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 September 99: Leisure Books Click here to view.
 August 99: Gerald Seymour Click here to view.
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 June 99: Michael Connelly Click here to view.
 May 99: Stephen Laws Click here to view.
 April 99: Gemma O'Connor Click here to view.
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 January 99: John Case Click here to view.

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