James Brendan Patterson (born March 22, 1947) is a prolific American thriller writer. By "prolific", we mean he releases at least two books a month, ranging from children's comics to adult non-fiction. Patterson's work is partly known for really short chapters, which are supposed to keep the plot moving. He credits shortening the chapters and focus-testing his books with leading to his big rise to fame.
As for his prolific output, he pulls it off by maintaining a stable of writers to 'help' with most of the books. Patterson comes up with an idea, writes a treatment of 60 to 80 pages containing all the key plot points, focus-tests it, makes some changes, and then hands the treatment off to a co-author who writes the actual book with Patterson's review and feedback. This practice is often criticized in literary circles, but Patterson defends it by saying that collaboration is common in practically all media. It also doesn't hurt that he donates millions of dollars to school libraries and independent bookshops.
Apart from his massive bibliography, he is notable for writing two books with ex-president Bill Clinton, both of which feature a badass fictional president foiling a plot against America. (A little wish fulfillment there maybe, Bill?) They are The President is Missing (2018) and The President's Daughter (2021). Patterson also wrote his memoirs, James Patterson by James Patterson, in 2022.
- Alex Cross - A detective in Washington, D.C.. Three novels have been adapted for the big screen: Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls (where the character was played by Morgan Freeman) and Alex Cross (based on Cross where he is played by Tyler Perry).
- Women's Murder Club - A detective, an ME, a DA and crime reporter. They fight crime in San Francisco. Was adapted as a TV series in 2007, it lasted one season.
- Michael Bennett - A widowed detective in New York City. With ten adopted kids.
- Maximum Ride - A teen science-fiction series with human-avian hybrids.
- Witch & Wizard - A teen fantasy series about fugitive magic users.
- Daniel X - A teen science-fiction series about a teenage alien bounty hunter.
- Middle School - Slice of Life illustrated novels about a troubled middle-school kid. They were popular enough to get some spinoffs, one is called I Funny and stars a wheelchair-bound comedian classmate, and the other is Middle School: My Brother Is A Big Fat Liar from the perspective of the protagonist's sister.
Also played poker with a fictional crime writer.
Works by this author with their own pages:
- Alex Cross series
- Daniel X series
- House of Robots
- I Funny
- Jacky Ha Ha
- Katt vs. Dogg
- Maximum Ride series
- Middle School
- Public School Superhero
- Unbelievably Boring Bart
- Witch & Wizard series
- Word of Mouse
Other works by this author provide examples of:
- Alpha Bitch: Three of them in My Brother Is A Big Fat Liar, collectively known as the Princess Patrol.
- Animals Hate Him: In Zoo, the mysterious animal attacks are found to be a result of pollution-induced pheromones emitted by human beings which are similar to the attack-pheromones of insects. Thus, this trope applies to everyone on the planet.
- Black Widow: Nora Roberts, the main character in Honeymoon. She kills two rich guys a short while after they propose to her with her two-piece signature dish: an omelet laced with one poison, and sparkle water mixed with a second poison.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: The Perfect Assassin revolves around a guy getting trained in this method. At the end he has 20/10 vision (i.e. twice as good as a normal person), can swim for miles in ice-cold water and survive getting shot with only a welt. Meanwhile, the bad guys are running an Academy of Evil using a less-powerful version of the same training.
- Expy: In Private: London, the lead character is Daniel Carter, a blonde, blue-eyed ladykiller with a military background and dry wit, even in crisis situations. The bad guy even turns out to be a lunatic out to destabilize a region of the world who kidnaps a scientist to that end. In short, he's essentially James Bond as a private detective, though a lot less sanguine about killing.
- Free-Range Children: In I Funny, then-sixth-grader Jamie Grimm goes to another town by himself for a comedy contest on his own — did we mention he's paraplegic? — and it's strongly implied he wheeled himself home in the middle of the night. (Overlaps with Handicapped Badass in that case.)
- Happily Adopted:
- Micheal Bennett's ten children.
- In My Brother Is A Big Fat Liar Rafe's sister, Georgia.
- Hate Plague: Played with in Zoo, in which a Hate Plague that affects all mammals except humans appears to be triggering an escalating global epidemic of animal attacks. It turns out that, while animals' behavior is indeed being altered, it's more of a Hate Me Plague: thanks to pollution plus radiation from cell phones, humans have begun emitting pheromones which incite other mammals to attack them.
- High-Class Call Girl: In Sail.
- Imprinting: The bird kids do this to the heroine of The Lake House.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each of the Womens Murder Club series incorporates its corresponding number into its title (First To Die, Second Chance, Third Degree, Fourth of July etc).
- Incongruously-Dressed Zombie: In Zoo 2, Jackson's group in Las Vegas is attacked by feral humans, whose clothes clearly peg them as casino employees, tourists, and (inevitably) an Elvis Impersonator.
- Irish Priest: Mike Bennett's grandfather Seamus (he became a priest after he was widowed).
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The celebrities taken hostage in Step on a Crack, particularly the Britney Spears-clone.
- Pheromones: A major plot point in Zoo involves pheromone signals influencing animal behavior.
- Post-Rape Taunt: In The Jester, one of the antagonists pulls this on the hero, whose wife was kidnapped while he was participating in the crusades.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: The Hubots in Humans, Bow Down.
- Robotic Spouse: In The Lake House, Dr. Ethan Kane, the head of the hospital where Max and the other children were kept, has a robotic wife that is "honored" to perform oral sex on him at any time and any place and even has a perfectly measured vagina.
- Rule of Cool: His action series — especially the ones for teens like Maximum Ride, and Daniel X — have a tendency to run on this at the expense of logic.
- Shown Their Work: In London, Dan Carter narrates that an actress, whose name he can't recall, in the restaurant he's in is rumoured to be the next Companion on Doctor Who and was "wearing a skirt even shorter than that worn by the current one" (Amy Pond).
- Stealth Pun: At no point in Sail is the phrase "Dunne In" used.
- Too Dumb to Live: Judge and Jury is about the trial of a powerful mob leader who is also a sociopath. The judge lets him hear the jury's names during selection. Even after he gets someone to break into her alarmed house, leave the evening paper under her pillow, and all but openly threatens her, she does nothing. By the end of the day, all but one of the jurors is dead. The retrial is locked down like Fort Knox.
- You Have Failed Me: Jiang Lijun is killed by his boss for this reason in The President's Daughter.