NYPD Red Squanders a Story for Sex
- Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Authors: James Patterson and Marshall Karp
Title: NYPD Red
Publisher: Little, Brown
It's not that James Patterson's latest cop thriller, NYPD Red, is poorly written.
Nor that NYPD Red's fast-paced narrative doesn't round up all the usual suspects of any pop-lit cop thriller, either. Gorgeous police specimens? Check. A gruff yet respectable captain? Check. Luxurious apartments no real cop could afford? Check. Somebody getting killed on practically every other page? Check.
By now, the über-prolific Patterson has a formula for his novels, and he barely bothers hiding it. NYPD Red, written with Marshall Karp, reeks of tired motives, miserable villains, overused plots, and police officers straight out of central casting. Sure, Patterson's a great storyteller, as his Guinness World Records status attests, but how many times have you heard this one: gifted cop on secret elite team protects rich and famous jerks from being killed by disgruntled psychotics? In New York City, no less, where it's not hard to cook up audacious plots and make them sound plausible? Banking on the Big Apple's notoriety as an incubator for the bizarre has become pop-culture's cop out when it comes to entertainment.
NYPD Red's take on this schtick is a "Hollywood on the Hudson" week, a fictitious promotional event when New York sells itself to Tinseltown's movers and shakers. To the mayor's horror, however, kingpins of the silver screen are being murdered one after the other, and it's up to these gifted cops on the city's secret elite squad to find the killer before the mayor's entire sales pitch to his guests from Los Angeles is utterly ruined.
Our detectives catch a laughably convenient series of crucial breaks in this case, all while Patterson reminds his readers that policing is only this easy in TV and the movies. Meanwhile, lust masquerading as love flickers between the lead male cop, one of his female partners, and the precinct's shrink. Oh yeah - and there's plenty of completely gratuitous sex between our arch villain and his equally perverted girlfriend, almost as if our cop heroes have more virtue because they better manage their libidos.
Indeed, just enough extra detail gets thrown in along the way to make the murder scenes that much more curious, the murder victims that much more deserving, and the cops that much more winsome. Our noble precinct captain, a salty African-American woman, provides a slick dose of politically correct deference, if not real-world New York City demographics. At least Patterson's geographic details of the Big Apple are right on target, and his depiction of an incident with a tourist from Mississippi lends some serious street cred to his narrative from a New Yorker's point of view.
On the one hand, despite its blue content, NYPD Red could be considered a harmless story whose enjoyment factor varies more upon one's definition of good literature than whether being exposed to such graphic accounts of sin is damaging to the reader's own character.
Yet as believers in Christ, even if we marginalized the methodical - albeit fictitious -killing of human beings created in God's image into just another story, do we really need all of the extraneous sex Patterson throws in to titillate us? It's not like those explicit accounts support his plot. True, our culture today is so choked with immorality that even some born-again believers might be jaded enough to simply gloss over it. But how healthy is that for any of us?
Sometimes deciding not to read books like NYPD Red says as much about our freedoms in Christ as the sins for Christ died to forgive us.
*This Review First Published 10/23/2012
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