Kill Me if you Can (James Patterson & Marshall Karp)

Kill me if you can book cover by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

Kill Me if you Can (Image provided by

Star Rating: ****

Pages: 463

First published in 2011 by Century

I recently read an article that condemned James Patterson for his joint projects.  The author of the article was unrelenting in his disapproval of the split in workload: two people discuss the storyline and plan out the chapters but only one person actually writes the story – if James Patterson ever offered to work with me I think I would jump at the chance knowing that he is an author who sells millions of books each year across the world.  So, he doesn’t necessarily write the story but he oversees things and provides guidance and support.  For many new authors surely this is what is needed – a mentor!

There is one distinguishing feature in any Patterson novel, whether co-written or otherwise – they are all easy to read.  If you want an easy reading, quick novel for the weekend this could be the book for you.

Set in New York City, Kill Me if you Can, has many twists and threads running throughout that will keep you guessing well into the book.

A hired killer, the Ghost, is stalking his prey in Grand Central Station, waiting for the moment when he can swoop down and strike.  The prey is a Russian, called Zelvas, who has decided to turn against the Mob and steal millions of dollars of their diamonds, clearly, they are not happy about this.

What should have been a simple killing turns into a nightmare.  Firstly, Zelvas doesn’t go quickly or quietly and to try and cover his tracks the Ghost re-creates the only thing that he knows will scare people into running – a bomb going off.  In the madness that follows, Zelvas tries to get back to where he has stashed the diamonds only to die in the process.  An ever nosey passer-by is intrigued as to why a dying man would run for the lockers rather than call for help, and therefore decides that whatever this man was prepare to die for might be worth a look.  Finding a traditional looking doctor’s bag inside a locker his inquisitive nature peaks and he looks inside – what would you do?  Would your conscience get the better of you or would you start to think about what you could achieve with the fortune you have just amassed?  Guess which one the naïve passer-by opted for?

Matthew Bannon, an ex-Marine turned Art Student from Parsons in New York City, is the new owner of a fantastic old, worn leather doctor’s bag; his only dilemma currently is what to do with it or more importantly the contents.  Sitting in his flat surrounded by his paintings and his gems he is still in a state of exultation not yet considering the consequences of his actions.  Instead of planning how to get rid of the stones he does what every student would do when they are celebrating – he throws a party.  Locking the jewels into his old foot locker he entertains and parties with his guests, including those he doesn’t particularly like.  Within this crowd also stands his girlfriend, Katherine, one of his lecturers at Parsons.  She is also excited but for a very different reason; she has just sold some of his paintings for the sum of $5000 and is over-the-moon that he is finally gaining recognition.  If only she knew – would she still be smiling?

Chukov is a Russian Heavy Man in charge of returning the diamonds to their rightful owner and responsible for hiring the Ghost.  When the diamonds go missing, the Ghost is reinstated to find the idiot that would steal from the Mob.  Never fazed by a challenge the Ghost readily accepts and sets to work.  Alongside him, Chokov enlists the help of two bent police officers, Rice and Benzetti, and later adds a blonde German bombshell named Krall to the ever-growing list.  How difficult can it be to find this guy?

Rice and Benzetti set to work revisiting CCTV from the evening of the robbery and they are soon able to identity Brannon as their man.  Cocky and unruly, they believe that very little will stand in their way and soon they will be reaping the rewards from both Chokov and from skimming the diamond bag.  Krall opts for brains over muscle and attempts to enter Brannon’s apartment by posing as one of his Professors but doesn’t have much luck; the residents in flat one are a brick wall and no-one is getting in past them without authorisation. The Ghost however, seems to have disappeared.

Controlling Chokov, Nathaniel, his boss and cousin, is desperate and needs the diamonds to be recovered at all costs.  He trusted Chokov to have the situation under control which he now realises was not so clever.  His girlfriend, Natalia, is also concerned about the consequences knowing that they will be the ones under fire from above if the precious stones are not found.  Knowing that Zelvas has been skimming from the Diamond Syndicate Nathaniel is already in trouble but how bad is it going to get for him?

Brannon, knowing that he is under threat sensibly decides to disappear and plans a romantic holiday for him and Katherine to Paris, and then Venice.  It quickly transpires though that he is no good at covering his tracks when Krall forces her way into their lovely room.  Timing is clearly another trait that Brannon struggles with as this is also the moment he chooses to reveal his gem collection to Katherine.  With his military training, although taken by surprise, he does manage to outwit Krall, throwing her out of the window and into the canal below.  Now on the run not only from the Mob but also the Italian police Katherine and Matthew scope up as many diamonds as possible and head out of the door before they are missed.  Already struggling with one revelation Katherine is then faced with another; will she be able to accept this one as easily as the last?  At this point it would appear not and she heads back to New York leaving Brannon behind.

Left with the prospect of being on his own Brannon heads to Amsterdam in the hope that someone will buy his diamonds after which he is determined to then try and resolve things with Katherine.  Although this seems like a simple plan surely there is going to be a catch – nothing so far has run smoothly why should things change now?  Being chased by hired killers, Russian mobsters and dirty cops what chance does Brannon have?

Will things end happily ever after for Brannon and Katherine?  Will Chakov and Nathaniel reclaim their diamonds?  Which hired killer will win?  How many will die?

I guarantee, even after reading this review, you will not be able to guess the turns that this storyline will take.  Just when you think you have everything figured out another bomb is dropped and you have to start thinking again.

A quick, non-challenging read this novel is enjoyable for anyone that likes Crime Fiction.

James Patterson Author

James Patterson (Image provided by

Marshall Karp

Marshall Karp (Image provided by

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  • e guttman says:

    I did not quite understand the ending.Was the sponsor paying for the art work the anonymous person and if so why did he want to hire him and the buddies for the next job?
    Maybe it is all very obvious but somehow I just wasn’t sure what happened.

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