Book Review: Black Friday

Posted On: October 24, 2008
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Since picking up my first James Patterson book – Kiss the Girls, I have been searching for his first in the Alex Cross series – Along Came a Spider. Unfortunately, it proved an elusive item to get from the National Library, and I am too cheap poor to get a new one from the bookstore. Thus, I picked up Black Friday instead, which is actually not one of those Alex Cross series. I wanted to check out how his other books read like, and apparently this book got mixed reviews on the web.

Black Friday, by James Patterson, starts off immediately with the introduction of Colonel David Hudson and Sergeant Harry Stemkowsky – veterans of the Vietnam War. Apparently they are part of a terrorist group called Green Band, involved with the bombing of Wall Street. I should not say that the story starts off slow, because it actually jumps right into the action, but my first impression of the first few chapters was that it was disjointed, and confusing. Perhaps too many names were introduced, perhaps it was meant to be so, because as the reader finds out, deception is a key theme of the book.

On hindsight, this is a scary story because it seemed to have foretold what happened on that fateful Sep 11 day, more than ten years before it did. Haunting memories of the fateful events of 911 were brough back vividly. Is that how Wall Street worked back then? Not likely. But the reader will do well to remind himself that this is after all a work of fiction. You can argue that it is not meant to be fully accurate to the point of real life operations, and thus the premise can be an exceptable flow of events.

There are elements of mystery intertwined between romance, lust and deception. There was the relationship brewing between Caitlin Dillon and Arch Carroll, as well as the powerful connection of Hudson and Billie Bogan.

Hudson was still learning to feel, and the lovemaking helped enormously. She brought him closer and closer to climax… right to the edge. He just couldn’t make it over. The most debilitating wave of exhaustion swept over Hudson.

He felt shaky. Then he was sliding headlong toward a tranquil dream state. The warning alarms almost seemed a natural part of him, now.

It is a shame there are not enough memorable instances that make the reader really feel for any of the characters. Perhaps that is a weakness in introducing too many key characters to the story, each with their own problems.

According to the author, “I wanted to concoct a shamelessly manipulative story that the reader couldn’t wait to finish, but didn’t want to end.”. He did create a rather manipulative story, and I wanted to reach the conclusion. However, I was not sorry when it ended, unlike other books I had read before, such as the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, or even Noble House by James Clavell.

This time round, in comparison to Kiss the Girls, it was a little easier to guess who the villain was, and it lessens the suspense, compared to that last read. I sort of guessed who one of the villains could be, about a quarter way from the end of the book. Having said that, I feel this to be a compelling read in the end. Perhaps my first book had whet my appetite so much that I had expected and yearned for more. There should be something here for the casual reader though, and still an entertaining read nonetheless.