12 Best James Patterson Reads for Every Mood (2023) (2024)

James Patterson once said: “I want to prove to everyone, from children to adults, that there is no such thing as a person who doesn’t like to read, only people who haven’t found the right book.” He then went on to write the ‘right book’ for many, his genres ranging from thrillers, suspense, and horror, to romance and YA.

Since his first published book, No products found. (1976), won The Edgar Award for best novel of the year, Patterson has had a string of success stories (literally!). Today, he is among those who have written the most number of New York Times bestsellers in history.

He’s most famous in the thriller and suspense realm, because he has a way of keeping you hooked from the first line, making sure you turn the pages to the very end with his fast-paced writing style. And I, like many other Patterson fans, got to know and love him through his crime and mystery novels. Then I read a bunch of other genres he’s written in and, just as I expected, he did right by those books too.

So I’ve compiled a list of some of his best page-turners here for you, and since my heart always sings for the romance genre, I included two of his best romance novels as well.

How I rated these books

I’m a mood reader, so whatever I felt at the end of the book makes it into my rating. But there are a few more things I think of when deciding on it:

  • Whether the plot makes sense
  • Whether there are interesting characters and character arcs
  • If the style of writing is appealing
  • Whether the book is worth a second read
  • What other readers say about them

Best James Patterson Books List

Best James Patterson Book Reviews

1. Along Came a Spider – My Favorite

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Gary Soneji, the psychotic killer, is about to commit the ‘crime of the century’. The latest of his unspeakable crimes happen at the precinct of the brilliant homicide detective, Alex Cross. Soneji is soon becoming his worst nightmare, especially since he needs to be at the top of his game and not be distracted by the smart and seductive Jezzie Flanagan, the first female supervisor of the Secret Service.

Nobody ever truly forgets their first Patterson and for me, it was Along Came a Spider from the Alex Cross series. My favorite genre after romance is mystery thriller (probably because I binge read the Nancy Drew series as a kid) so when I came across the first book featuring Alex Cross, I didn’t think twice about reading it. I was delighted to find that it was a chilling read featuring a psychopath wreaking havoc in Washington D.C.

Our psychopathic antagonist, Gary, is the kind that deserves a spot on Criminal Minds because he’s ruthless, manipulative, and treats all humans as his next victim. Patterson writes about him very skillfully, especially about Gary’s human side. I was left thinking about the motives behind the killer, what made him who he is, and his mental health. The story is about him committing his latest crime in the precinct of Alex Cross, the skilled homicide detective.

Cross is brilliantly portrayed as a detective who started from the ghettos and rose up the ranks, working up to a massive career. In short, it’s so easy to root for this protagonist – I was completely invested in him winning both cases and at life.

I loved the tension between Alex and Jezzie. Their forbidden romance gave us some great angst and longing scenes, but my one complaint is that Jezzie’s portrayal wasn’t as fleshed out as I would’ve liked it to be. I hate when FMCs are just there as a plot device with little to no character development of their own, and that’s what happened with Jezzie too.

That aside, the thriller/mystery element of this book was top-notch. I couldn’t rest without finding out the truth behind the mysterious killings and the plot twists just kept throwing me off my guard.

Along Came a Spider has the best parts that make a great mystery thriller: a relatable detective, a frightening psychopath, and a fast-paced plot. This is your quick weeknight read for when you need something to pick up your mundane work days.

  • Best for – Fans of psychopath villains, homicide detectives, forbidden romance
  • Not for – Readers who are uncomfortable with murders, depiction of child murders/kidnapping

2. 1st to Die

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Four crime-solving women team up to pursue a killer whose crimes have shocked San Francisco. But just as they near the end of their chase, a shocking revelation leaves them reeling with more questions than answers about everything they thought they knew.

What is the best thing that could make a James Patterson mystery thriller better than it already is? A women’s murder club, tasked with solving brutal crimes. I literally squealed when I read the synopsis of book 1 of the Women’s Murder Club, 1st to Die, because it’s about four women teaming up to catch a killer in San Francisco.

My favorite thing about this book is the individualities of these four women. Each one has a specific career in the field of forensics and criminal science, and each one has their own battles to win. We love strong FMCs over here, so I was engrossed in their stories from the beginning. It certainly helped that Patterson expertly painted the female dynamics, their sisterhood, and teamwork throughout the story.

Now let’s get to the thriller aspect of it. I have one thing to say: what on earth was that plot? The plot had me holding my breath until the end of the story to let out a sigh of relief, only to scream at that last twist. I won’t say more here because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but Patterson really hit a home run with this mystery.

This is one of my favorite Patterson mystery thrillers for two reasons: the nail-biting plot and the fabulous group of women who are intent on solving the mystery. Since reading this book, I’ve been a staunch fan of the Women’s Murder Club, and I’m sure you will be too. Pick it up for strong FMCs and a killer plot (yes, literally).

  • Best for – Fans of strong FMCs, female investigators
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for a slow burn

3. Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas

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Katie thinks she has found the perfect man until he suddenly leaves her with no explanation. When a diary turns up at her door with a note from her lover urging her to read it, she doesn’t hesitate. But will the answers she’s looking for be more painful than the breakup she’s just been through?

I first came across the movie version of Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, but when I saw the reviews online, I decided to give the book a chance. I was left with tears in my eyes at the end of this book – a reaction I never thought I’d have to the work of a writer best known for mystery thrillers.

We start the story with Katie sitting in a bathtub in tears, after having read the diary that Suzanne had written for Nicholas, her son. She realizes that Suzanne’s husband is Matt, her lover who had suddenly left her, the night before she had received the diary. Patterson’s opening lines were enough to catch me off guard because it was clear that both Suzanne and Katie were so in love with Matt.

After Katie’s initial shock of reading the diary, there was an almost eerie calmness in her that I got a bit confused. You wouldn’t have expected a woman who had just found out that her lover was married to be this calm about everything, right? Did her love run so deep that she wasn’t angry? What was in the diary that made her feel empathy for Matt, even after he had wronged her?

In answering these questions, Patterson treats us to two beautiful love stories in this novel. The plot twists and the ending were slightly predictable but Patterson’s portrayal of characters was the true winner in this book because we get to see the surprising tenderness and understanding between all of them. Their vulnerabilities were so heart-wrenching that I was ugly crying my way through the entire book 😭.

Ultimately, this is a story which shows us that love isn’t black or white and that it instead exists, in a multitude of colors, in the ordinary moments of everyday life. I loved reading this mature romance and I would 100% recommend it for those of you looking for a slow, emotional, romance.

  • Best for – Fans of slow burn romances, mature romances
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for a one love trope

4. Sam’s Letters to Jennifer

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Six months after losing the love of her life, Jennifer moves back to Wisconsin to care for her ill grandmother. Here, she finds a painful secret that her grandmother has been harboring for years and discovers another chance at love.

I swear, I didn’t pick this book up because of the namesake. It’s just that Patterson did such a great job with Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, I decided to dive right into his other romance novel, Sam’s Letters to Jennifer. This was another haunting love story with themes of grief and loss, which left me at a loss for words once I was done with it.

I love the second-chance love trope in this book where Jennifer, our FMC, returns to her hometown to care for her ill grandmother and ultimately ends up falling for Brendan. The way she falls in love with him is so heartwarming to see because Jennifer is giving herself a second chance at love, after going through the grief of losing her former partner. I found the depiction of her loss very painful to read about, but it was so beautifully written, capturing the mourning that follows the loss of a partner, and the conflicting feelings that come with finding love again.

Patterson once again explores two love stories in this book. The second one is Jennifer’s grandmother, Sam’s, told through the letters that she has left for her granddaughter. I really enjoyed picking out the similarities between the stories of Jennifer and Sam, and I think this plot device really shows Patterson’s skills as a writer. Sam’s story is also a great (and pretty heartbreaking) insight into marriages from a different era.

Sam’s Letters to Jennifer is a haunting, occasionally painful story of love and loss and I can confirm that James Patterson did wonders in the romance genre this time around as well. I’m recommending this with high praise, but be warned, you might need a weekend blocked out to sob your heart out as you read this book.

  • Best for – Fans of themes of love and loss, second chance love
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for a quick burn, happy romance

5. The Murder House

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Former NYC cop Detective Jenna Murphy has just moved back to the Hamptons in an attempt to escape her troubled past and to rehabilitate her struggling career. The last thing she expects is the town’s cursed gothic mansion to be the scene of depraved killings. With everything on the line, Jenna must risk her life to expose the truth behind the murders.

Haunted houses both terrify me and intrigue me, so when I found that James Patterson has a mystery thriller set around a creepy house, I knew I had to read it. This turned out to be one of the best stand-alones of Patterson’s I’ve read, mostly because I loved reading the chapters written from the point of view of the unknown killer.

The book is told in a series of POVs, mainly between Detective Murphy and the unknown killer, who calls himself Holden. Reading his perspective gave me the shivers, but I loved that deep dive into the deranged thoughts of the criminal.

Now, when they caught Noah Walker — the bad boy carpenter of the Hamptons for the murders — I immediately knew something smelled fishy. He didn’t really come across as a ‘deranged criminal.’ But (I’m ashamed to say) that was the only thing about this book that I was able to predict. I kind of pride myself on being able to figure out who the killer is before the end of the book, but Patterson almost always wins this game in his books. This was the same for The Murder House, and the twists had me jumpy right to the very end.

The only issue I had with this story was the depiction of Detective Jenna Murphy’s character. She came off a bit annoying and careless as a detective, ready to point fingers at everybody instead of thinking things through first.

However, if you’re in the mood for a fast-paced murder mystery, this is the perfect book for you. Check it out for its FMC who’s also a former NYC cop, the town bad boy who’s arrested for murder, and the POVs from the killer himself. And the cherry on top is the eerie, abandoned house where the story takes place.

  • Best for – Fans of murder mysteries, fans of abandoned houses
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for a likable FMC

6. The Postcard Killers

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NYPD Detective Jacob Kanon is on an adventure through Europe’s cities for a heartbreaking reason: his daughter was a victim of a series of murders while holidaying in Paris. The killings are always preceded with a riddle written on a postcard to local newspapers, and the killers always claim couples on vacation. Enlisting the reluctant help of reporter Dessie Larrson, Kanon is ready to bring justice for his daughter.

Since murder mysteries are a surefire way of turning a boring weekend around, I picked up this novel during one slow weekend, and was completely blown away by the chilling murder spree depicted here. I had to call a fellow Patterson fan in the middle of reading this book just to calm myself down.

I really loved that this book was set in Europe with the murders being in multiple locations, giving a sense of adventure to the whole mystery-solving aspect of the book. I also enjoyed that the detective pursuing the crimes, Kanon, was doing so for a very personal reason, bringing his determination front and center throughout the book. There’s nothing quite like a personal vendetta in a thriller novel to keep you captivated in the story.

The book carried elements of erotica and historical art within the themes of murder and mystery. Adding that to the backdrop of adventure, the combo of themes made it a captivating read, especially as the crimes were linked to two killers who have a very interesting relationship to one another.

I do wish though that the characters of the two killers were more fleshed out in this story. I was excited to find out what made them killers and how they connected, but my questions went unanswered and now I’m trying to manifest a sequel or spin-off featuring the killers.

So while I draft a letter to James Patterson asking for more of the Postcard Killers, go read this book! It’s an amazing stand-alone novel featuring a spree of gruesome killings, an adventure, and a detective with a personal vendetta.

  • Best for – Fans of adventure novels, murder mysteries
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for well-developed villains

7. Red Alert

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Detective Zach, from NYPD Red, is in his element with his partner Detective Kylie, doing what they do best: solving high-profile crimes. What’s keeping them up at night is their next case: investigating the connection between two bomb explosions and the suspected murder of a high-profile NY-er known for her kinky sexual interests. Adding fuel to the suspense of solving a high-stakes, complicated mystery is the romantic tension between the duo.

The NYPD Red series is no stranger to the hardened Patterson fan. I pretty much binge-read the books as they were released because they feature one of my favorite tropes in murder mysteries, NYPD detectives. Patterson writes about an NYPD special unit named NYPD Red, featuring Detectives Zach and Kylie, and my favorite happens to be Red Alert.

I completely believe that the secret to a great detective story is one thing: the messiness. Hear me out, nobody wants a ‘clean’, easily predictable mystery where we can see the twists coming a mile away. But when there are multiple mysteries with little to no connection between them, that’s when things get a little messy and a whole lot interesting.

Red Alert is the perfect example of such a book with the mysteries ranging from a bomb explosion at a fundraiser and a suspected murder of a high-profile New Yorker known for her kinky sexual explorations to a second bomb explosion. And I assure you, all these interconnected puzzles and the NYPD Red squad’s attempts to untangle everything will keep you hooked from the beginning.

As usual, my favorite NYPD detective, Zach, was well characterized in this book. His witty banter with Kylie is hilarious while his longing for her is delightfully angsty. I loved seeing their personal relationship develop as a backstory, though I sometimes wanted to throw the book at the pair because they couldn’t see that they were good for each other.

This remains my favorite NYPD Red book because of the insight it offers into the investigation of three gruesome crimes and the personal relationship between Zach and Kylie. I love the book for its pace, and I’m sure you’ll love it too – it’ll keep you occupied, twisting and turning the mystery in your head until you reach the very end.

  • Best for – Fans of NYPD-detective trope
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for a low-stakes mystery

8. Woman of God

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Brigid Fitzgerald has faced a life of trials and tribulations, from a difficult childhood with drug-addled parents to a career as a doctor on the frontlines of war-torn Sudan. Her faith in God has only grown stronger through the years, but it must be put to the test again as those who fear that the Church has lost its way have made her a target.

Ever since I read the likes of Dan Brown’s No products found., I’ve been fascinated with books inspired by religious history and mythology. That’s how I stumbled across Patterson’s Woman of God, which left me reeling from the story about politics in the highest institution of religious power in the world, and about one’s personal relationship with religion.

I love when FMCs disrupt things (especially patriarchal institutions) and I had a good laugh reading this book as Brigid, our FMC, pretty much wreaks havoc in Rome. She is called for an audience with His Holiness Pope Gregory XVII for starting a movement to modernize Roman Catholic views, and she does NOT hold back.

What I enjoyed the most about this book was the soft portrayal of a woman’s evolving relationship with God and faith because it was fascinating how Brigid’s character arc took shape with her faith. Her character development itself was very fast paced (true to the classic Patterson style) and it kept me gripped throughout the novel.

I’m used to Patterson’s harsh-edged crime thrillers, so it came as a surprise when this story broke my heart with the personal trials that Brigid went through. The portrayal of loss and grief was so acute that for a second I forgot I was reading a thriller writer.

I do have to say though that this book has some critical undertones of religion, especially about Roman Catholicism. If that’s not your cup of tea, I totally get it; but if you do decide to give it a chance, I recommend going into it with an open mind because it’s a fascinating fresh perspective on topics that have been hashed out for centuries. If you’re looking for a read that veers from conventional thriller and suspense novels, Woman of God might fit the bill.

  • Best for – Fans of religious history, fans of strong FMCs
  • Not for – Readers who are uncomfortable with religious politics

9. The Murder of King Tut

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The life and death of the ‘Boy King’ has fascinated the minds of many across the decades. Howard Carter went a step further and made it his life’s mission to find answers to the 3,000-year-old mystery, and finally uncovered the long lost crypt. In The Murder of King Tut, Patterson unpacks these findings to disclose the truth behind the mystery.

I was digging around for some reading on ancient Egypt when I came across Patterson’s The Murder of King Tut. I was immediately obsessed because I’ve been invested in Tutankhamun like everyone was, for the same reason: the mystery surrounding King Tut’s death. This book was a thorough, intriguing collection of information and narratives that really opened my eyes to the scale of the mystery surrounding the Boy King.

I loved the cross-mixing of forms explored in this book. It starts with personal introductions by Patterson while the story is written in almost a report-style, making it an interesting take on true crime and historical writing. These liberties that Patterson has taken play a pivotal role in bringing to life the case of a murder mystery that has gone cold centuries ago.

I also loved that writing this story meant that Patterson himself got to play detective, a role dedicated to his MCs in most of his other novels. He takes us on his journey of combing through history and Howard Carter’s findings to give us this compelling read. It’s not one of his fast-paced mystery thrillers, but it made me admire his skill as a writer all the more.

In short, this book is such a fun and fascinating deep dive into a niche of history. If you’re a history buff, you would definitely love this book. If you’re not a history buff, you would still love this book because the mystery/suspense element is as appealing and fulfilling as any other James Patterson. Happy exploring, folks!

  • Best for – Fans of Egyptian history
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for a fast-paced mystery thriller set in contemporary times

10. Filthy Rich

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Starting from humble origins, Jeffrey Epstein amassed wealth with his penchant for numbers. But even after rising to the highest rungs of society, he wanted more and this meant indulging in his pedophilic tendencies. Filthy Rich examines all sides of his case as he fell from grace, rocking the foundations of high society.

When Jeffrey Epstein died in his jail cell in 2019, I, like literally everybody else on the internet, searched high and low for all details of his vile actions. That’s how I came across this book that Patterson had written three years prior to Epstein’s death, detailing the shocking nature of Epstein’s conduct.

Nothing has ever really prepared me for the horrors of true crime. I know that these stories are part and parcel of the society we live in, but I can never seem to wrap my head around how these atrocities are real and all possible. However, Patterson’s writing on the Epstein case was so direct and to the point that I had to come to terms with the existence of evil and those who commit it.

It was difficult to stop reading about the horror show (akin to how we cannot look away from a car accident) because Patterson’s recreation of interviews and conversations with victims were extremely informative and captivating.

I also really admired that Patterson critically examined the justice system in this book, showing us just how lightly they handled Epstein’s crimes when they were first brought to light. This, coupled with Patterson’s criticisms of the rich and powerful, made for a compelling and bone-chilling read.

I finished the book thinking, “What a damning portrayal of today’s society” so I want to warn you – this book is difficult to stomach because the story is about some gruesome crimes towards children. With that warning in place, I really do urge you to read this story for a very dark but much needed insight into the world’s capacity for unspeakable acts against humanity.

  • Best for – Fans of true crime
  • Not for – Readers who are uncomfortable with the depiction of child abuse

11. The Injustice

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Theo Foster is expelled when his anonymous Twitter account is used by someone to post a compromising photo of the school’s star quarterback player. Resigned to a life of working at the local mini-mart, he runs into Sasha Ellis, his long-time crush, who has also been expelled for a crime she didn’t commit. Teaming up together, they decide to uncover the truth behind who set them up.

I haven’t read a lot of Young Adult mysteries because I haven’t come across well-recommended ones, but since The Injustice is a James Patterson product, I decided to give it a go. I was so thrilled to find that this was a Pretty Little Liars meet The Breakfast Club kind of a book because I loved both of them as a teen.

Right from the start, I enjoyed the friendships between the group of students expelled from their high school for various reasons. They are so different from each other that they wouldn’t have been friends in another lifetime, but in the book, their common experience brings them together. Then they have to learn to put up with each other to find out who used Theo’s social media account to upload a compromising video of Parker, in order to clear their names.

Our MMC, Theo, had excellent character development. He’s no perfect teenager by any means, and Patterson expertly captures the conflicting nature of young adulthood. Theo grew to be resilient and learned to fight back, and I was so moved by the way he handled the challenges that life threw at him.

Similar to Theo’s, the storylines of two of the other three MCs were also great. I loved reading about Jude’s struggles with his sexuality and Parker’s personal story, but I was not a fan of Sasha’s storyline because the twist at the end about her home life came off a bit unnecessary. There was absolutely no need to give her that character arc, and then just leave us hanging there with no explanation or resolution.

However, if you’re looking for an easy-read YA mystery, this is the book for you. It has some beautiful explorations of friendship and an interesting plot, so it’ll quickly fill up your slow weekends!

  • Best for – Fans of YA mysteries
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for a mature mystery/crime thriller

12. Humans, Bow Down

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Hu-bots, originally created by humans as perfect versions of themselves, have waged war against humankind and won. Under the hu-bot rule, the remaining humans are either imprisoned or forced to work as servants. One teenage girl, Six, unknowingly holds the device that can change everything, but will the hu-bots get to her before she realizes its potential?

From Divergent to The Hunger Games, I love reading post-apocalyptic dystopian novels which show the alternative worlds that humans can create, and the fight to ensure that they are just and fair. That’s why I decided to give Humans, Bow Down a go, and I was completely taken by it.

One thing I really enjoyed about this book was Six’s character development. In a post-apocalyptic world where humans are enslaved to robots, she unknowingly holds the secret to a device that could change everything because she’s the granddaughter of the inventor of the first original robot. We get to see how she tries to do right by humankind while dealing with the trauma of being kicked out of her family and the hu-bot war that nearly wiped down humanity; I was impressed by the high stakes and the challenges they presented, especially in a YA book.

I also really loved the symbolism in this book because Patterson used symbols to draw parallels between the dystopian world of the novel and the world we live in today – like the modern-day class structure, for example. It’s a bit of a jarring outlook on reality but I like it when authors force me to see the world in a different light. That’s what reading’s all about, right?

The novel was really rushed though. I think a great dystopian novel is one that properly fleshes out the world, the plot, and the characters so we can connect with the story. In Humans, Bow Down, there’s no space for this to happen because Patterson’s classic short chapters aren’t structured for comprehensive worldbuilding.

However, it’s still a fresh take on a common dystopian trope of robots ruling the world with its symbolism, the FMC, and the reflections it left me with. So if you’re looking for a fast-paced YA dystopian novel with a strong FMC, this is the book for you.

  • Best for – Fans of YA dystopian genre
  • Not for – Readers who are looking for slow-paced dystopian books

And that’s my list of the best James Pattersons! Whether you’re new to reading or a seasoned bookaholic, Patterson has something for everyone from true crime to mystery thrillers to romances. Pick up your next Patterson read to dive into worlds of crime, shrouded by mystery and thrill.

What Are the Must Read James Patterson Books?

Patterson’s Alex Cross series is his most popular one, and its first book, No products found., is definitely a must read. Many Patterson fans were indoctrinated into the fanbase through this book and it remains a winner, even today.

The NYPD Red series is another one of his most famous works, and the biggest James Patterson fans will tell you that the fifth installment in this series – No products found. – should not be missed.

From his recent works, No products found. follows the shocking true crime tale of Jeffrey Epstein. The depiction of America’s richest communities and the scandal that rocked their foundation is a must read.

What to Read Next

If you enjoyed my list of James Patterson books, especially ones from the true crime/mystery thriller genres, then my list of Harlan Coben books might feature your next mystery read!


1. What is considered James Patterson’s best book?

No products found. is considered his best book because it’s wildly popular – it’s the most reviewed Jamed Patterson book on Goodreads and it has over 200 published editions.

2. What genre is James Patterson known for?

James Patterson is mostly known for his thriller and suspense novels.

3. What order should I read James Patterson’s books?

James Patterson has written many series of novels that can be read as stand-alones, so you can read any book without too many confusions. That said, it’s good to start a series with its first book. For example, you can start the Alex Cross series with No products found., Women’s Muder Club series with No products found., the Private series with No products found., the NYPD Red series with No products found., and the Maximum Ride series with No products found..

4. Which Alex Cross book should I read first?

No products found. is the first book of the Alex Cross series, so it’s good to start from there.

5. Is James Patterson an easy read?

James Patterson books are easy to read as the author draws us in quickly with accessible language and fast-paced action. However, keep in mind that though his books are easy to read, they contain serious and dark themes like crime, substance abuse, and psychopathy.

6. Which James Patterson books are not part of a series?

No products found., No products found., No products found., No products found., and No products found., No products found. are a few stand-alone novels by James Patterson.

7. What author is most like James Patterson?

Lee Child, David Baldacci, Robert Ludlum, and John Grisham have a similar writing style and write in similar genres.

12 Best James Patterson Reads for Every Mood (2023) (2024)
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