Richard North Patterson’s latest, Exile, has divided the critics — well, two of them, anyway. Peter Millar in the Times thinks the book is great, Sarah Weinman in the Washington Post emphatically doesn’t.
RNP writes legal thrillers; being keen on the genre, I’ve read them all and usually enjoy them. The characterisation and the plots are both well above John Grisham level (Grisham is stronger on atmosphere and "place"). RNP’s earlier books featured members of a legal family, their complex personal relationships and their social circle; the reader was guaranteed various crime-related cliffhangers with each volume. Some time ago, though, the author switched into "issues"; his more recent books have featured an American presidential candidate and later president, selection for the supreme court, the abortion issue and capital punishment. Some of the earlier characters figure fleetingly, but increasingly the books have focused more on the political, moral and legal issues than on plot and characterisation. Nevertheless, I’ve enjoyed the intricate accounts of the Amercian political-legal-media process provided by the books, and always look forward to the next.
This time round, RNP takes on the Middle East: the plot concerns a Jewish-American lawyer with political ambitions who becomes involved in defending a Palestinian, possibly radical Islamist, ex-girlfriend accused of aiding an attempt to assassinate the Israeli Prime Minister. I imagine the book features long passages weighing up all aspects of the Middle East conflict from the US perspective, and I can well imagine that this would grate with readers wanting less preach and more pace.