Private: Missing Persons: The Most Exciting International Thriller Series Since Jason Bourne (Private, 16)

Image of Missing Persons: The Most Exciting International Thriller Series Since Jason Bourne (Private Middle East, 1)
Release Date: 
January 30, 2024
Grand Central Publishing
Reviewed by: 

Captain Joshua Floyd is flying his MV-22B Osprey helicopter through the dark Afghan night; aboard are a cadre of Green Berets ready for their covert mission and so, too, is the reader, who is primed for thrilling suspense. After all, this is a James Patterson novel (with an assist by co-author Adam Hamdy).

Incoming fire. Floyd lands. The port engine is in flames. He must run for his life.

In Garrison, New York, Floyd’s wife Beth and their two children, Maria, nine, and Danny, seven, are in their car when Beth realizes the State Police, who have stopped her, guns drawn, are  hostile operatives. Beth, who retired from the military when she married Floyd, flees and begins a protocol she and her husband have arranged if he was captured or anyone threatened Beth. She knows—because of the attack on her and her children—that something dire has happened to Floyd.

In chapter four, Jack Morgan, our first-person narrator, appears. He’s the head of Private, the world’s largest detective agency, with offices from New York to Moscow, and a former military helicopter pilot in Afghanistan. When a man, purporting to be Beth’s father, wants Morgan to find his daughter and grandchildren, Morgan decides to return to the field himself. He organizes a search, employing his colleagues: Justine (a psychologist and profiler and his lover) and an assortment of other skilled operatives.

The most exciting narrative features Joshua Floyd’s terrifying adventures in Afghanistan. Floyd “knew better than to relax. He had been on missions that had gone from still water to a Category-5 hurricane in the blink of an eye.” We, too, know not to relax. The plot moves swiftly, with short, propulsive chapters that burst with the speed of automatic weapon gunfire, as the plot rushes headlong on three fronts: Floyd’s nightmarish journey, Beth’s attempts to save her children and elude abduction, and Jack Morgan and his team’s effort to rescue both.

Missing Persons is written by “the world’s #1 bestselling writer,” as the publicity promotion announces. Indeed, Patterson has shaped the modern thriller, with its fast-pacing, hyperactive plots, constant changes in location, and the use of dark forces endangering the hero, who, himself, acts with almost super-powered resilience and daring. Unlike more nuanced mystery or crime fiction novels, the thriller is a special genre that requires the reader to suspend realism and hang on for the ride.

Ignoring the Mission Impossible happenings, there are several plot snags that jump out. For example, when Beth and her two young children run from the rear of a cabin into the forest heavily laden with snow, her abductors never go around the building to see what surely must be three sets of footprints. Later, the threesome walk along a rural road, with Beth carrying an AR-15. Isn’t she worried about being seen by the men who are tracking her? And there’s no mention that she attempts to hide the rifle from cars going past. Kind of odd, particularly as two young children are in tow.

The style is lean, with a sufficient sprinkling of description to ground the reader in place, especially the scenes set in the forbidding landscape of Afghanistan: “The peak itself rose into the sky like a jagged tooth, reaching for stars and galaxies that were rich in depth and color. There weren’t many more beautiful places to die.”

This addition to the “Private” series will enthrall those who devour James Patterson’s novels and those who relish the exhilaration that thrillers provide. (Note: previous titles were co-authored by Maxine Paetro and Mark Sullivan.)