Kill Me If You Can Review
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James Patterson is known for his frequent collaborations with co-authors. Typically, they’re up-and-coming authors (or, in the case of 2010’s The Postcard Killers, a popular author from overseas) who get a nice career boost out of the deal. But, this time, for Kill Me If You Can, Patterson has teamed up with another established author—one who’s known for a lighter, quirkier brand of crime fiction. And, in doing so, he’s added a bit of Marshall Karp’s signature wit to his latest gripping crime thriller.

Kill Me If You Can opens with an assassination attempt that doesn’t go quite as planned. A contract killer known only as the Ghost is hired to do away with Walter Zelvas after his boss, Vadim Chukov, discovers that Zelvas has been stealing diamonds from him. But what should have been a simple job turns into a major event at Grand Central Station.

In the midst of the panic, art student Matthew Bannon finds Zelvas just before he dies—and he discovers the bag of diamonds that Zelvas had been racing to recover. Matthew walks away from the station with a bag that’s worth millions of dollars, setting in motion a massive manhunt.

Chukov hires both the Ghost and his fiercest competitor, Marta Krall, to find the diamonds. But as Matthew celebrates his newfound riches by taking his girlfriend, Katherine, on a spontaneous holiday, he sends the killers racing around the world to try to find him.

Especially in the beginning, Kill Me If You Can offers an entertaining blend of Patterson’s typically taut action and suspense and Karp’s easy-going sense of humor. It may be a tense thriller, filled with Russian mobsters, dirty cops, and contract killers, but Karp still manages to throw some quirky characters into the mix—like Leonard Karns, a pretentious snob of an art student who’s taken for just another nutcase when he tries to call the police with a tip regarding his more successful classmate. Although the laughs tend to diminish once Matthew and Katherine run off to Europe, the writing as a whole still has a natural levity that you don’t often find in Patterson’s serious thrillers.

Matthew’s story is fast-paced and fun as he sets off on an unexpected vacation with the woman he loves, visiting some of the world’s most romantic cities. His relationship with Katherine gives the story just the right amount of romance—while, at the same time, making his getaway so much more complicated. As you might expect, the relationship itself gets a little more complicated, too, once Matthew finally tells Katherine the truth. But although the romance may be a bit formulaic, it helps to give the main character a little more depth than the usual action hero.

At the same time, though, Kill Me If You Can isn’t without its awkward missteps. The relationship between Chukov’s boss, Nathaniel Pierce, and his own daughter, may have been intended as a shocking twist, but it serves no real purpose—other than turning readers’ stomachs, that is.

Still, Patterson’s breathtaking suspense mixed with Karp’s effortless humor makes Kill Me If You Can a thriller that’s both exhilarating and entertaining. The two crime novelists make a great team; I can only hope that we’ll see more from them in the future.

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