Publisher: Century (Trade Paperback – 31 January 2023)
Length: 372 pages
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Those in the mood for a quick and very fun series of thriller stories should check out the intriguing new book from the legendary James Patterson, 3 Days to Live, featuring three great short stories co-written by some impressive talents.
I have been really getting into James Patterson’s books over the last couple of years, and there is a reason that he is always leading the thriller field. At this point, I have mostly read books that Patterson has co-written with several other authors, including the fun Doc Savage sequel The Perfect Assassin (co-written by Brian Sitts), the impressive mystery loaded with family drama 2 Sisters Detective Agency (co-written by Candice Fox), the compelling thriller Lost (co-written by James O. Born) and the addictive and freaky Death of the Black Widow (co-written by J. D. Barker and one of my favourite books of 2022). As such, I am always keen to read more from Patterson and when I received a copy of 3 Days to Live, I quickly dove into it knowing I would have a great time with it.
3 Days to Live is a captivating book that contains three separate short stories, including the titular story 3 Days to Live, as well as Women and Children First and The Housekeepers. Patterson wrote each of these short stories with a separate co-author, and the talented Duane Swierczynski, Bill Schweigart and Julie Margaret Moulin each add their own flair to these great stories. I haven’t read anything from these three authors before, so 3 Days to Live proved to be an excellent and fun introduction. All three stories are roughly the same length, and they each have their own elaborate and intelligent narratives told utilising Patterson’s fast-paced style. There is a very fun collection of different storylines with each of these entries, and I loved the sheer variety of scenarios these great authors came up with.
The first of these short stories is 3 Days to Live, which was co-written by Patterson and Swierczynski. This is a very exciting and clever spy thriller that serves as an excellent and distinctive introduction to the entire collection. The story is told from the perspective of Samantha Bell, a young, recently retired CIA agent, who has just eloped with her new husband, Kevin Drexel. Honeymooning in Berlin, tragedy strikes when Kevin is lethally poisoned at the hotel alongside a Russian Oligarch and his daughter. Samantha manages to survive the attack but is also dosed with the poison, which will end up killing her in less than three days. Weakened, dazed, and heartbroken, Samantha sets out to find out who killed her and her husband and is forced to contend with both the CIA and the Russians, before discovering the terrible truth behind her own murder.
This was a very impressive and enjoyable story that I particularly enjoyed getting through. Patterson and Swierczynski came up with a great story that perfectly utilises its fun storyline about a poisoned individual trying to find their killer before they die, which was reminiscent of films like D.O.A, Crank, and Kate. The authors set the scene for 3 Days to Live’s story extremely well and you are soon deeply engrossed with Samantha’s story as she utilises all her knowledge and skill as a CIA agent to find out who killed her and why. The story goes in some very fun directions, and you really connect with Samantha as she balances her grief over her husband’s death with her need for vengeance and control of the situation. The authors do a good job of showcasing the character’s slowly declining physical health, and the weakness and loss of control she feels becomes an outstanding part of the plot, especially as you begin to worry that she won’t be able to achieve her goals. There are some fun twists and swerves throughout this short story, and while the identity of the poisoner is a little obvious, the full motivations and set-up for it works perfectly. I was extremely engrossed by this captivating story and I managed to power through all 110 pages in very, very short order. Readers interested in checking this book out are in for a lot of fun with this first impressive entry and it honestly was my favourite story in the entire book.
The second story is the great read Women and Children First, which was co-written by Bill Schweigart. This intriguing second story follows security specialist and former elite soldier Chase Weldon, who has been hired by a massive corporation to test their systems and find any potential breaches. However, during Chase’s initial investigations a series of deadly cyber security breaches occur, and it becomes clear that someone is targeting the company and its eccentric CEO. Initially an observer, Chase is dragged into the chaos when the saboteurs contact him and coerce him to convince his employers to pay a substantial ransom. But when Chase attempts to push back, the saboteurs place him in a terrible situation, one where killing his wife and kids seems to be the only option.
This was another awesome and electrifying story that serves as a wonderful and compelling second entry in 3 Days to Kill. Moving from spy thriller to corporate espionage is a fun change of pace, and I liked the unique and clever story that emerges. Patterson and Schweigart do a great job drawing the reader in, especially after an entertaining introduction to the protagonist that also serves to highlight the tactics of the baddie. The stakes steadily rise as the book continues and watching the protagonist get desperate enough to consider killing his family really added to tension of the plot. The subsequent interactions with the arrogant tech CEO make for some great scenes, and while I was able to see most of the story’s big twists coming, it was still a ton of fun getting through it, especially with all the action that unfolds around them. There are some fantastic family dynamics worked into the plot, and while the family are portrayed as way too overwhelmingly talented, you still get caught up in their gripping adventure. The authors end up telling a very concise and entertaining story through the course of 121 pages, and I was hooked enough to read the entire thing in one sitting. Women and Children First also serves as a great follow up to 3 Days to Live, and readers following on straight away from the first action-packed story will find another excellent read that keeps the blood pumping while telling its own distinctive and enjoyable story.
The third and final story in 3 Days to Live is the powerful and intense thriller, The Housekeepers, which was co-written by Julie Margaret Moulin. Following several distinctive characters, The Housekeepers sees Russian housekeepers Sophie and Masha on the run from the Russian mob who intend to kill Sophie’s son Nikolai. Desperate for a place to hide, they secrete themselves in the pool house of Masha’s boss, Dr Elizabeth Parks. However, Dr Parks is going through her own issues, including family drama and police concerns around a gang violently targeting her clients to steal their prescription medication. When circumstances drive them together, the doctor and the housekeepers need to work together to survive all their deadly problems.
This was another compelling story and probably the most moving and powerful of the bunch. Rather than the fast-paced action of the first two stories, The Housekeepers is more character driven, and Patterson and Moulin do a wonderful job of efficiently setting up the major problems impacting all the distinctive protagonists. Each of these issues, including Russian gangsters, problematic teenagers, intruders, family tensions, and even a pack of coyotes, come crashing down around them and it results in some complex and dramatic interactions. The authors really lay down an excellent and intelligent narrative in The Housekeepers and I loved how dark it got, especially with those great twists at the end. All the complex characters have their own dark issues, and it was really impressive how Patterson and Moulin where able to effectively set them out and resolve them during the course of this short story. I came away from The Housekeepers deeply satisfied, if slightly saddened, and this proved to be an awesome and moving finale to this volume.
This was an overall excellent and captivating collection of short stories from Patterson and his co-writers, and I am really glad I got the chance to read them. All three fast-paced stories really draw the reader in with their well-established and thought-out narratives and unique scenarios, and the authors played them out perfectly. Each story really stood on its own feet while also adding to the entire volume. I personally enjoyed the differences in tone and focus that each story contained, and I think that 3 Days to Live serves as a good example of Patterson’s style and ability to work with different authors. I would strongly recommend 3 Days to Live to established Patterson readers or thriller fans who are interested in seeing what sort of ideas Patterson and his cohorts are working with these days. I can’t wait to read more Patterson books in the future.