James Patterson,
The Thomas Berryman Number
(Time Warner, 2006)

The Thomas Berryman Number was James Patterson's first novel, and he received rejections from some 20 publishers before it was finally placed and went on to win the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

Berryman, the central character, is a professional assassin who is hired to kill Jimmie Horne, the first black mayor of Nashville, Tenn. Ochs Jones, a reporter, isn't satisfied when Horne's death is blamed on a crazed stalker who is gunned down at the scene by a man believed to be a police officer. Jones' suspicions lead him to a patient in a New York mental hospital who was raving about the assassination weeks before it occurred.

Jones' investigation unearths the identity of Berryman, and he traces the killer's movements from New York to New Orleans and on to Nashville, adding along the way some insight into Horne and other people involved in the story.

Having won such a prestigious honor, it would be assumed this is a fine novel. Depends on the reader. It's deeper, more complex than many of his later books. It also has a convoluted plot and more viewpoints than some readers might find comfortable. And the ending is predictable.

Personally, I found it a story better told in this audio version. Will Patton ably voices the various characters and kept me listening when I might not have done so with a less talented actor.

by John R. Lindermuth
18 November 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.