Whatever opinion you may have of the man and his work, there is absolutely no denying that an output as prolific as Patterson’s demands a certain respect. As it turns out, he’s also a notable champion of bookshops and booksellers, which means, of course, that we’re impelled to do him the proper credit. But we’re really here about the books themselves. Certainly we all know Alex Cross and The Women’s Murder Club, but are you aware that Patterson has created and authored books that form more than 20 different series ranging from adult fiction to middle-grade readers? And that’s without mentioning the standalones.
In this blog, I’ll be choosing ten of those series, providing a quick overview of each of them along with a look at the most recent instalment. We’ll be beginning with:
The Women’s Murder Club
This series, featuring fan favourite Detective Lindsay Boxer, is set mostly in San Francisco. The cases that she and her colleagues (each from different professions that coalesce perfectly to create a formidable crime-solving team) converge to investigate invariably involve murder – as the name suggests – and are typically complex while remaining entertainingly fast-paced.
Most Recent Instalment: 20th Victim
Sergeant Lyndsay Boxer is drawn into a strange case that blurs the line between assassination and serial killing when three people are simultaneously killed, by one precise gunshot each, in three different cities. It’s not long before she discovers that each of the victims was an influential criminal, each one of them involved in nefarious enterprises important to the press and the public. These could be serial killings, they could be acts of vigilantism, or there could be something less brazen behind these killings. While all this is happening, the members of the “club” are facing their own particular battles, adding new strain to a situation that is already dangerously tense.
On top of the trademark thrills, tight plotting and relentless action, 20th Victim leaves room for intriguing ethical conundrums and considerable grey areas, making it a highly entertaining addition to the series, as well as a quick and accessible standalone.
20: The 20th Victim (Women’s Murder Club Series) Out now!
19: 19th Christmas
18: 18th Abduction
17: 17th Suspect
16: 16th Seduction
15: 15th Affair
14: 14th Deadly Sin
13: Unlucky 13
12: 12th of Never
11: 11th Hour
10: 10th Anniversary
09: The 9th Judgment
08: The 8th Confession
07: 7th Heaven
06: The 6th Target
05: The 5th Horseman
04: 4th of July
03: 3rd Degree
02: 2nd Chance
01: 1st to Die
Cross doesn’t need much of an introduction. An FBI agent and psychologist, he is renowned for his intelligence, rationality and ability to keep a handle on his emotions while also being empathetic. As the main character suggests, this series is defined by its psychological engagement and the ingenious lengths to which Cross will go to crack a case.
Most Recent Instalment: Criss Cross
This one is built around one of the most classically riveting crime propositions.
Fearsome convicted serial rapist and killer Michael Edgerton has been given the death penalty for his crimes. His execution has just been carried out when… another victim shows up. The murder fits Edgerton’s MO, but Cross himself witnessed the execution. He helped bring the killer to justice. He thought that he could move on. And now he has to face the inevitably torturous question: did they actually get the wrong man, or is there a copycat out there every bit as terrifying as the original? It’s a gruelling and painful situation, but Cross is determined to finally lay this case to rest.
25: Criss Cross (Alex Cross Series)
24: Target: Alex Cross
23: The People vs. Alex Cross
22: Cross the Line
21: Cross Justice
20: Hope to Die
19: Cross My Heart
18: Alex Cross, Run
17: Kill Alex Cross
16: Cross Fire
15: I, Alex Cross
14: Cross Country
13: Double Cross
12: Alex Cross (Also published as Cross)
11: Mary, Mary
10: London Bridges
09: The Big Bad Wolf
08: Four Blind Mice
07: Violets Are Blue
06: Roses Are Red
05: Pop Goes the Weasel
04: Cat & Mouse
03: Jack & Jill
02: Kiss the Girls
01: Along Came a Spider
Others (not part of the main series)
02: Merry Christmas, Alex Cross
01: Alex Cross’s Trial
Michael Bennett is a New York City detective who routinely tackles the most horrifying cases while he also keeps up with the needs and lives of his ten adopted children. Throughout his career he tackles serial killers, drug lords, kidnappings, mysterious societies and assassins. The series is breakneck action at its finest.
Most Recent Instalment: Blindside
Michael Bennett must marshal all of his discreet detective faculties in order to help find the missing daughter of New York’s Mayor – a man that Bennet has never really considered an ally. His investigation leads him to a murder committed in the Bronx. The victim has ties to a high-level hacking collective, a group who may also be connected to the Mayor’s daughter, who is, herself, a skilled digital operative. But the murder turns out to be the first in a string of serial killings that ultimately undermines national security. Now Bennett finds himself trapped in a triangle formed by feuding government departments and global criminal organisation. The situation quickly sees Bennett struggling to maintain the principles he holds dear as he races to save more vulnerable innocents.
05: I, Michael Bennett
04: Tick Tock
03: Worst Case
02: Run For Your Life
01: Step on a Crack
The Private novels follow an elite detective agency that operates in numerous corners of the globe. They are routinely entrusted with the secrets of world leaders, corporate big wigs and the influential rich. Led by Jack Morgan, the agency comprises the most skilled investigators in various forensic fields and is as discrete as they come. The fact that these books typically take place in different major cities throughout the world means that the storylines remain dramatic and varies while maintaining all the trademark Patterson action. A new novel, Private Moscow, is expected late this year.
Most Recent Instalment: Private Princess
Jack Morgan heads urgently to London when his services are request by Princess Caroline, a royal high up in the British succession to the throne. His legendary discretion has never been more important as he is charged with finding Sophie Edwards, a friend of the royal family, who has gone missing. Not only is the investigation a race against the media, it soon becomes clear to Morgan that the princess is hiding something, and that she knows more than she is willing to let on.
06: The Games: A Private Novel
05: Private Paris
04: Private Vegas
03: Private L.A.
02: Private: #1 Suspect
Others (not part of the main series)
08: Princess: A Private Novel
07: Count To Ten: A Private Novel
06: Missing: A Private Novel
05: Private India: City on Fire
04: Private Down Under
03: Private Berlin
02: Private London
01: Private Games
Harriet Blue is a detective who specialises in hunting and catching the worst that humanity has to offer. Having grown up in Australia’s foster care system, Blue is particularly empathetic when it comes to trouble people, but she checks her empathy at the door when in pursuit of evil. She is the lead detective of a sex crimes unite, and is often called upon to deal with uniquely disturbing cases, including that of infamously savage serial killer, the Georges River Killer.
Most Recent Instalment: Hush Hush
The forth novel in the Harriet Blue series sees the tough-as-nails detective navigating threats in a new environment.
At the end of the last novel in the series, Liar Liar, Blue is stripped of all her detective functions and locked away in jail. Prison is hardly the place a cop wants to find herself, though, of course, there are certain inmates positively foaming at the mouth for such a chance, and a danger that even Harriet would be hard pressed to weather well surfaces almost immediately. However, support comes in an odd guise, and wrapped in a tragedy of its own, in the form of Joe Woods – the Deputy Police Commissioner who had her put away in the first place. Woods’ daughter and young grandchild have gone missing, and he is desperate to think that Blue might be the one to help recover them. A deal is struck – her freedom for his family – and what follows is a pure Patterson adrenaline-soaked white-knuckle-ride of suspense and sharpness… Devourable crime fiction from a writer whose popularity shows no signs of waning and a co-writer with sizeable chops of her own.
04: Hush Hush
03: Liar Liar
02: Fifty Fifty
01: Never Never
Maximum Ride is a teen-oriented series. It begins with an experiment performed by a sinister institution, a surgical endeavour to graft avian DNA onto human genes, resulting in a select group of young individuals capable of flight. The thing is, this special power often leads them headlong into dangerous tussles. Throughout their adventures, Maximum Ride and her altered companions come up against clones, nefarious mutants, diabolical plans to decimate the world’s population and global warming… among other catastrophic threats.
Most Recent Instalment: Maximum Ride Forever
The series finale sees Max and what remains of her flock roaming a devastated world, navigating a post-apocalyptic Earth, searching for answers as to what happened. They’ve made it through impossible trial after impossible trial to find themselves here, at what seems to be the end of it all. They may not have saved the planet, but there is still much to tie up. Though the main storyline officially ended with the previous book, Nevermore, Maximum Ride Forever is an action-packed encore – one last thrilling ride.
09: Maximum Ride Forever
04: The Final Warning
03: Saving the World & Other Extreme Sports
02: School’s Out-Forever
01: The Angel Experiment
Not dissimilar to the Maximum Ride series, but featuring its own cast of characters and its own particular sci-fi world. When Daniel X’s parents are killed, he steps up to take their place as Defender of Earth. His journey begins in Oregon, where he tracks down and defeats lower-ranking members of the List of Alien Outlaws on Earth, but ultimately he plans to work his way up to number one, The Prayer, the alien who murdered his parents. His quest takes him far from home and into bold allegiances just as it leads inexorably toward that final confrontation. The series’ scintillating alien flavours, sympathetic characters and inventive action make it a winner.
Most Recent Instalment: Lights Out
Daniel X has been hunting aliens most of his life. Aided by his power to create anything he can think of, he’s fought his way up the list of the galaxy’s most wanted aliens, demons and scumbags. There’s only one name left.
The Prayer. Evil incarnate. The one who robbed Daniel of a normal, happy life the day he gunned down Daniel’s entire family. They say The Prayer is basically a god, hell-bent on bringing death to every corner of the universe. And only Daniel X can stop him.
But Daniel’s amazing power seems to have abandoned him, and he’s grasping at answers he can’t quite reach. With the fate of Earth hanging in the balance, can Daniel find a way to win a fight that has him hopelessly outmatched?
06: Lights Out
04: Game Over
03: Demons and Druids
02: Watch the Skies
01: The Dangerous Days of Daniel X
Witch and Wizard
James Patterson does fantasy! Dystopian fantasy, in fact. The Witch and Wizard novels take place in a troubled future in which witchcraft is punishable by execution… though many insist that it does not exist. When brother and sister Wisty (15) and Whit (18) begin to show an aptitude for the magic, they are taken from their parents and given to the New Order – a totalitarian regime dedicated to eradicating people with those particular gifts. Wisty and Whit’s quest for freedom and acceptance lead them through realms and dimensions that unite them with other persecuted young people, all while the New Order, and particularly their sinister leader, continue to seek out and quell any form of magic, even going so far as to ban all creative and imaginative endeavour.
Most Recent Instalment: The Lost
Everything is about to change. The government has seized control of every aspect of society, and this is the astonishing story of Wisty and Whit Allgood, a sister and brother who were torn from their family in the middle of the night, slammed into prison, and accused of being a witch and a wizard. Thousands of young people have been kidnapped; some have been accused; many others remain missing. Their fate is unknown, and the worst is feared-for the ruling regime will stop at nothing to suppress life and liberty, music and books, art and magic . . . and the pursuit of being a normal teenager.
05: The Lost
04: The Kiss
03: The Fire
02: The Gift
01: Witch & Wizard
Another series for younger readers, Treasure Hunters is exactly what its name suggests: super-entertaining treasure hunting adventures. It centres around the Kidd siblings, the children of legendary treasure hunter, Thomas Kidd. After their father goes missing in a storm and their mother is kidnapped by pirates, it falls to Bick, Beck, Storm and Tommy to carry on the daredevil family occupation, searching the globe and investigating all sorts of ancient secrets in their quest for treasure. It’s related in audience and style to the popular Middle School series.
Most Recent Instalment: All American Adventure
Bick, Beck, Storm and Tommy are stuck in Washington, D.C. without any priceless antiques to hunt–BORING! But everything changes when the Kidds uncover a dastardly conspiracy: a fake Bill of Rights!
Now they’re crisscrossing the country in a race to prove the document is a forgery. But the key to exposing the conspiracy may have been under their noses the whole time. And if they don’t find it soon, the U.S.A. as we know it could be gone forever…
07: Plunder Down Under (Expected June 2020)
06: All-American Adventure
05: Quest for the City of Gold
04: Peril at the Top of the World
03: Secret of the Forbidden City
02: Danger Down the Nile
01: Treasure Hunters
This is another series that runs more or less parallel to the Middle School series (which is right up there with Diary of a Wimpy Kid in terms of humour, illustration and readability). I, Funny follows Jamie Grimm and his unending efforts to become the world’s greatest stand-up comedian. Behind the scenes, however, Jamie’s life probably isn’t all that funny. He’s new in town, he lives with his aunt and uncle and his loathsome son Stevie – a bully who has no qualms about picking on a young comedian in a wheelchair. But Jamie catches a glimpse of his starry future when he hears about a contest called The Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic. It’s a hilarious and accessible series that’s perfect for reluctant readers and whacky youngsters.
Most Recent Instalment:
Comedian Jamie Grimm can’t help feeling like he’s reached the top – he has his own smash hit TV show and he’s won a national funny-kid competition. But now he’s taking his fame and fortune to international levels by competing in the upcoming world kid comic contest! Will Jamie prove that he’s the funniest kid on earth – or does he stand (or sit!) to lose his crown?
06: The Nerdiest Wimpiest Dorkiest I Funny Ever
05: I Funny School of Laughs
04: I Funny TV
03: I Totally Funniest
02: I Even Funnier
01: I Funny
Series that I Did Not Mention:
For the several series that I didn’t get to, and especially if you are halfway through one of them, visit this handy James Patterson checklist: https://www.jamespatterson.com/landing-page/james-patterson-checklist/