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Never Never

Review

Never Never

James Patterson continues to be an unstoppable force in bringing authors who are popular abroad to the notice of mystery and thriller readers in the United States through collaborative efforts. NEVER NEVER, the new novel by Patterson and Australian scribe Candice Fox, is the latest example. It introduces a seemingly mismatched police team that is responsible for solving a series of mysterious disappearances in a vast and hostile wilderness of which few Americans are familiar.

The book’s focus is a prickly, sharp-elbowed Sydney, Australia police detective named Harriet “Harry” Blue. While Harry is not exactly a police poster child to start with, she has a marked ability to track down and bring to justice the worst of the worst of the criminal element. So no one is more shocked than Harry when her brother is charged with a string of horrific killings. She is summarily transferred to another jurisdiction in order to avoid undue media attention to her connection to the accused and to keep her from interjecting herself into the investigation, which is being run by a detective with whom she has had problems in the past. The jurisdiction is not one that Harry, or anyone else, would have picked. It is deep in the Australian outback --- known as “the never never” --- where she is tasked with investigating a series of missing persons occurrences at a uranium mine.

"Harry Blue is certainly a character worthy of a series, and while NEVER NEVER is complete in itself, Patterson and Fox leave just enough hanging at the end so that readers will be clamoring for further resolution."

To make matters worse, Harry is assigned a partner named Edward “Whitt” Whittaker, an affable and competent enough detective who is ill-prepared for the sharp-elbowed Harry, who quickly becomes convinced that Whitt’s presence at her side is for surveillance, as opposed to backing her up.However, neither member of this poorly matched investigative team is truly prepared for what they encounter at the camp, which is a culture of underground illegal activity that is winked at, if not outrightly condoned, by the camp’s operators. Its participants aren’t pleased to see law enforcement hanging around.

Meanwhile, two dangers lurk just outside of the camp’s perimeter. One is a group of eco-terrorists who engage in an ongoing practice of life-threatening sabotage against the camp and its inhabitants. The other is a mysterious figure known to the reader only as the Soldier, who appears to be able to breach the perimeter of the mining camp at will, and to ill effect. The eco-terrorists prove to be unlikely and uneasy allies for Harry and Whitt, while the Soldier continues a seemingly random game of abducting a miner here and there and subjecting them to a bizarre game of skill in which their lives are at stake. After Harry herself is kidnapped and barely escapes, the stakes become personal, even as the mine owners seem less concerned about what is occurring with their workers than they do about their bottom financial line. Harry wants to bring the Soldier down in the worst way.

And then, of course, there is Harry’s brother --- the only person she has ever cared for --- whose life and liberty are on the line while he is fighting multiple charges of murder. Harry wants to be there for him as his trial approaches, but she has a job to do first, bringing down the self-styled Soldier and stopping the killing spree that most people doubt is even occurring. Before the book is over, Harry and Whitt will be challenged physically and mentally in ways they never have before while being brought to the brink of death, and possibly beyond.

Harry Blue is certainly a character worthy of a series, and while NEVER NEVER is complete in itself, Patterson and Fox leave just enough hanging at the end so that readers will be clamoring for further resolution. Hopefully more will be seen from this dynamic author duo --- not to mention Harry --- in the near future.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 20, 2017

Never Never
by James Patterson and Candice Fox

  • Publication Date: January 16, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 0316433179
  • ISBN-13: 9780316433174