James Patterson is a famous American thriller writer. He is a best-selling author who has written over a hundred books, including those with co-authors. He writes series and stand-alone novels and has authored books of varying genres.
If you’ve read James Patterson before, you’re already familiar with his fast-paced writing and short chapters. If not, it’s something you should take note as it might not appeal to you if you aren’t into that speed of development.
Here is a list of some of his famous novels to help you decide where to start or what to read next:
Best James Patterson Thriller Series
James Patterson is best known for his investigative/crime-thriller novel series. In fact, majority of his works are in this category. Some works were single authored by him, while others were co-authored by some of the most popular writers of the genre.
Here are some of Patterson’s thriller series you should check out!
If you’re wondering whether you should read James Patterson, I’d suggest this book as a good start, although be warned because this series is quite long.
No hardcore James Patterson fan would not know Alex Cross, the protagonist of this book. Alex Cross is a brilliant detective who’s in a cat-and-mouse chase with Gary Soneji, a brilliant serial murderer, too brilliant that the authorities struggle in subduing him. Together with Jezzie Flannagan, the supervisor of the Secret Service, Alex tries to capture and outwit the villain while solving murder cases.
The book is a complete set of mystery, crime, suspense, and thriller genre.
The unpredictable page-turning plot twists will leave you wondering how everything will unfold.
Unlike the Maximum Ride series, the chase in this book is more dynamic and interest-sustaining. When you have a brilliant detective chasing an equally brilliant villain, you are off to a one-of-a-kind chase filled with outwitting scenarios.
Needless to say, the book isn’t just about the chase between Alex and Gary; it also introduces into Alex’s relationships with his family and with someone special to him.
There’s too much to say about this book, so it’s better to experience it yourself. It is fast-paced, so no need to worry about the long installment you will need to catch up with (each book will definitely leave you wanting for the next one, anyway). Although it’s unlikely that all books in this series would satisfy you, the first installments are definitely worth the read in my opinion.
Introducing, the elite Special Task Force, NYPD Red!
Formed by the New York Mayor, this unit is tasked to protect the highly influential and wealthiest personalities of Manhattan.
Detective Zach Jordan and his ex-girlfriend Detective Kylie Macdonald of the special unit are both assigned to investigate the case of Sidney Roth, a world’s famous producer, who was killed of poisoning. Although Zach and Kylie’s have orders to stop at nothing to catch the killer, this is proving to be more difficult than they had imagined.
One thing to appreciate about Zach and Kylie’s relationship is their undeniable dynamics.
If you are into investigative cases where crimes are done bizarrely out in the open, you might want to try this novel. It’s easy to read, and the cases, as well as the point-to-point location changes are easy to follow.
Series info: co-authored by Marshall Karp; currently at its 5th installment, with the 6th book scheduled to be released in 2020
Adaptation/related works: no adaptations yet
Following the arrest of her brother as the prime suspect of a murder case, sex crime detective Harriet Blue is transferred to Perth, a small town in Western Australia, away from the media’s attention. Together with Detective Whittacker, she investigates the case of the missing mine workers.
For Candice Fox readers, this is a must-read! The short chapters, a Patterson trademark, go well with Fox’s characterization of Harry. If you like Women’s Murder Club, you will get the same Lindsay Boxer vibe from Harry.
Series info: Detective Harriet Blue series has 5 books including Book 0.5, Black & Blue.
Here comes the most challenging case in Detective Michael Bennet’s career: a hostage-taking crisis occurs during the funeral of a former First Lady, and the lives of some of the most prominent and most influential people in the country are in danger. To add to that, he also finds out that his wife, who has cancer, is already counting her days.
Michael Bennet is probably one of my favorite James Patterson creations. The touching and emotional struggle the main character has while performing his duty adds more character development in the story. This novel brings readers into emotional shifts—from the mystery/crime-thriller events to the touching scenes.
Series info: There are currently 15 books in the installment. Book 12, Blindside, is the latest installment.
Adaptation/related works: Last 2017, it was reported that a TV adaptation by ABC is on its way.
An inspector, an assistant DA, a chief medical examiner, and a newspaper reporter—four women form the Women’s Murder Club to investigate the mystery and find the killer behind the murders of newlyweds.
What’s to look forward to this series is how each woman plays her role with her specialization. They’re a dynamic team of four women who gather information to solve the crime.
Each book in the series has its own case, though familiarity with the previous installments will make you appreciate it more
Series info: There are 13 books in the Women’s Murder Club series.
Adaptation/related works: 1st to Die TV Series (2003); Women’s Murder Club TV Series (2007-2008)
Animals have been attacking humans, and the world knows nothing about it.
Jackson Oz, a young biologist, is determined to prove that something unusual is certainly going on. He quits graduate school and collects data on the attacks. What’s causing all these behaviors? Can he convince the world before more dreadful attacks occur? Or is it too late for them to secure a safe space for humans?
Of all Patterson’s works, this novel has the simplest premise, and James Patterson, together with Michael Ledwidge, put a relevant take on it. Compared to his other works, this has less thriller effect. Some readers may not be into scenes of animal attacking humans, and if you’re one, better not read this book.
There are only two books under this series, so if you want a James Patterson series with few installations, you have this to keep you occupied.
Series info: There are 2 books in the series.
Adaptation/related works: CBS-TV Series, Zoo (2015); Zoo: The Graphic Novel
Best James Patterson Stand-Alone Novels
If you are not into series, you may want to try some of James Patterson’s stand-alone books.
Journalist Ochs Jones researches on the murder of a high-profile politician, Jimmie Lee. After finding out about two other murder cases, he believes these murders are related, so he is determined to track down the killer.
Meanwhile, Thomas Berryman is a ruthless assassin who labels his assassination through a number. Can Jones track this cunning assassin?
You might want to read the first ever book James Patterson has written. It will show you Patterson’s early writing style before he changed into a fast-paced and short chapter narration.
A lot has changed in Patterson’s writing style, so if you are new to his works, I suggest you put this book on hold and try his other novels first.
If, however, you are into a slightly slow development (relative to Patterson’s other works), then reading this novel first shouldn’t be a problem.
This James Patterson’s debut novel won the 1977 Edgar Allan Poe Award for First Novel category.
The current president, Harrison Tucker, is weeks away from being re-elected, and he is all but assured of a second victory. But when the media caught him leaving the Atlanta hotel with Tammy Doyle, his mistress. This exposed his love affair, and his reputation plummeted. Suddenly, his victory in the election is not secured.
Meanwhile, the First Lady, Grace Tucker, has suddenly gone missing. Agent Sally Grisson is tasked to investigate and find the First Lady, whose disappearance appeared to be more than just her running away to recuperate from the news of her cheating husband. Agent Sally is determined to find out the First Lady’s whereabouts– and keep her safe.
What I like about this book is it didn’t steer away from the usual fast-paced writing James Patterson is well-known for. I’d say some parts are definitely predictable, but the thriller ride still lived up to my expectations.
If you are new to James Patterson and would like to try him by reading a stand-alone novel, this is one of the two books I recommend starting with.
Bridgit Fitzgerald has been through a lot in her life. A former physician now a priest, she can even possibly be the next pope. How will she change the lives of those who challenge her church?
I did not expect a novel like this from James Patterson, but it was my mistake not to expect something different from him. The plot was definitely intriguing, although I think it would have sufficiently justified the developments through a second book because I find it lacking in that aspect.
The novel is filled with religious overtones, although the book is more about the action than religion. If you are not comfortable with this kind of story, you can skip this book.
Related: Best Christian Fiction Books
Released in August 2018, this book is the most recent addition to the long list of James Patterson’s thriller books.
It all goes down with our main character, Bill Robinson, a former detective, who’s reovering from the death of his wife and is now running a bed-and-breakfast inn after his dismissal from the service. His plan for a fresh start fails when strings of death start to occur in his area. Incidentally, what (or who) he needs to fight off the crimes that have been going on are right under the same roof. Bill, together with his long-term tenants, battle out Mitchell Cline, the drug lord responsible for the killings in their town.
As someone who has read Patterson’s early works, I can say that the writing style has changed a bit. What I like about this novel is the fresh set of characters. James Patterson and Candice Fox took their time to develop the relationship between the characters to justify the foundation of the team. They will soon form to fight the villain of the story. How the characters with different past complemented each other and worked towards the same goal is for you to find out.
If you are not particularly looking for a full crime-thriller novel, I recommend that you read this before reading the other series by James Patterson. If you’ve read his other books (for instance, any of the Alex Cross or Women’s Murder Club series), this book might disappoint you.
If you are new to James Patterson and want to experience his crime-thriller writing style, reading this stand-alone novel might not be a good start, so you might want to choose from his other books as your first read.
A stand-alone novel I would recommend to new readers of James Patterson, the story is about the mystery surrounding the multimillion-dollar beachfront house in Hamptons and the series of killings that have been going on in this Murder House as to how locals refer to it.
As for the former NYPD cop Jenna Murphy, after many years of being away, she is back in Hampton and is offered a post in Southampton Town PD by Langdon James, the Chief of Police and her uncle. Here she gets involved with the mystery concerning the Murder House and Noah Walker, the prime suspect. Now, Jenna is determined to solve the mystery behind the killings.
I highly recommend reading this novel. Among all thriller stand-alone books Patterson has written, this one doesn’t disappoint. The level of unpredictability, plot twists, and fast-paced events will keep you turning the pages until the conclusion.
This is recommended for those who want to experience James Patterson’s signature fast-paced and short chapters, as well as the tension-inducing thriller genre he is well-known for.
For newcomers, you would absolutely be enticed to read more of his works.
Yes, you read that right. The president is missing, but not quite.
Cyberterrorism threatens the United States, and President Jonathan Duncan faces the allegations of being the suspect! Faced with an impending impeachment, the president goes missing.
Written by James Patterson and former US President Bill Clinton, this political thriller novel will surely blow your mind with its twists and turns and realistic narration on the matters of politics.
What makes this novel unique is the almost testimonial writing you can get from the novel. The point of view of the president is even more realistic when a former president himself is involved in the writing.
I cannot tell how much of this novel is the president’s writing. However, the novel stayed true to the Patterson style of short chapters and fast-paced development.
There are quite a lot of novels (and even films) that have president themes in them, so if you enjoy those kinds, I would highly recommend this book to you.
Adaptation/related works: A TV adaptation for The President Is Missing is scheduled to be released.
Best James Patterson Young Adult and Romance Novels
If you think thriller series or the previously mentioned stand-alone novels aren’t to your liking, check out this list of YA and romance novels by James Patterson.
Don’t let the previous lists fool you; although most of his work are thriller, he is as good when it comes to writing romance and young adult themes!
The story follows six genetically engineered (half-human half avian) kids as they try to escape from the School that has been imprisoning them. Max is the leader of the group; she is strong-willed and edgy, and she leads the group through her thoughtful analysis of their situation. As they run for their lives, they try to discover the secret of the School and their own identity.
The plot is something that appeals to a specific audience group (I’d say teens who are currently into YA genres). Each chapter is packed with to-ing and fro-ing scenarios as they’re being chased by the Erasers (the School’s men, basically).
I would recommend this series for those who are not a huge fan of the crime-thriller-mystery genre but want to have a bit of those in their reading experience. If you find teen angst likable, you will definitely love Max.
If you are more into crime/thriller genre and want more investigative plots, there’s definitely a James Patterson book for you, but unfortunately, this book isn’t it.
Continue reading through the list; the next book might be the one for you!
Series info: The series has nine books concluded with the release of the 9th book, Maximum Ride Forever.
Adaptation/related works: Maximum Ride (2016 film); Marvel Comics adaption Max Ride: First Flight, Max Ride: Ultimate Flight, and Max Ride: Final Flight; Manga adaptation released by Yen Press
This book was nominated for 2010 Golden Archer Award, Middle/Junior High Category.
Daniel X has the power and ability to create. At a very young age, Daniel X learned to survive on his own after his parents were brutally murdered in his presence. He uses his secret abilities to hunt down his parents’ killers. Now, he goes through The List in the hope of finally taking down the killer.
If you loved Maximum Ride, then you should give this one a try! If you didn’t like Maximum Ride (or have not read it) but are into science fiction (and aliens maybe), read this book and see if you’d like James Patterson’s science fiction writing. It certainly is shorter than the Maximum Ride series but is nothing short of an adventure!
Series info: There are six books in this series, including one in graphic novel format (Book 1.5 Alien Hunter).
Adaptation/related works: Daniel X: The Ultimate Power (video game)
Sixteen-year-old Tandy Angel and her three brothers are from a wealthy and successful family. They are overachievers and prodigies in their fields. But after the mysterious death of their parents, things start to change. The police cannot identify other suspects besides Tandy and her brothers. The thing is, she may even really be guilty of the crime herself, although she can’t say for sure. Now she must find out the truth behind their parent’s death, and discover some of the deepest and most shocking family secrets.
This novel has more of a thriller and less of a chasing plot, compared to the previously mentioned series in the YA list. The character, Tandy, narrates the story directly to the audience, which adds a more stimulating effect.
This is recommended for readers who enjoy reading about family secrets and mysteries.
Heads-up for those who have read Maximum Ride and are looking for a similar one; this is different and may not be your cup of tea.
Katie Wilkinson, an editor who works for a publishing house, is in a relationship with Matthew Harrison, an author, and a poet. Just as she thought everything is going well, Matthew suddenly disappears. Katie discovers a diary written by a woman named Suzanne. She goes through the diary in pain as she learns about the past of the man she loves, but with hopes of finding out if they still have a chance.
This novel is James Patterson’s first work in the romance genre and proves his versatility in writing different genres. I recommend this to readers who are looking for a romance novel and are not much into thriller stories. If you’re worried that this novel might be a thriller romance, it is— in a romantic way.
Adaptation/related works: Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas (TV Movie 2005)
Not long after two consecutive losses, Jennifer is again welcomed by the sad news of her grandmother is sick. She receives a call and immediately goes back to her grandmother’s place—the very same town where she grew up. While spending time there, she discovers a pack of letters recapping the love story of her grandmother, Sam.
If you’re not a fan of thriller stories but want to read James Patterson, I would suggest you read this novel. Of course, given that you don’t mind reading a romance novel, too.
Reading this book can also be a good break of you’ve been consecutively reading Patterson’s thriller works. If you are looking for a good romance novel, this may also be for you
This book was listed in the Top 100 National Bestsellers of 2004.