Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Quickie - James Patterson, Michael Ledwidge

The Quickie
James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
Little, Brown and Company


Lauren Stillwell followed in her father’s footsteps and joined the NYPD. After years of work, she’s attained the rank of Detective First Grade in Homicide. Her husband, Paul, works in the financial district. But Lauren’s world starts falling apart when she decides to surprise Paul for lunch and witnesses him entering a hotel with a young blonde. Her sense of betrayal is immense. So, when Scott Thayer, a detective in the Narcotics division wants to take their office flirtation into the bedroom, Lauren goes along with it.

After their few hours together (the “quickie” of the title) Scott leaves to get some food. Lauren watches in shock from a window as her husband assaults Scott and drives away with him in the car. Searching for the two, Lauren comes across a crime scene thronged with police. Scott is dead; beaten, shot, and then dumped in a park known for drug activity. Of course, Lauren knows exactly what happened, but her guilt at being the cause overwhelms her. Designated the lead investigator on the case, Lauren is in a pretty good position to manipulate facts and evidence to protect her husband and her own career.

The main problem with this whole setup is that Lauren is presented as a strong, intelligent woman with a solid moral compass. To have sex with another man as revenge of sorts on her husband is a completely different shade of pale than actively covering up a violent murder. In short, Lauren is not a character that the reader can really root for, since her hands are filthy, too. Her moral ambiguity may have been a conscious choice, as opposed to presenting a ‘good guy’ main character, but that’s a significant flaw that makes it difficult to empathize.

As it turns out, many of the characters presented here are morally ambiguous. What it boils down to, in the end, is watching a bunch of characters betray one another, for their own ends. Realistic? Maybe. And it’s still a very fast read. The narrative is kept moving along with the help of the characteristic Patterson micro-chapters. There are plenty of twists and turns to uncover, making this a perfect beach book.

Rating: 7
July 2007
ISBN# 978-0-316-11736-4 (hardcover)


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