James Patterson has written so many great books that it can be hard to choose which ones you’ll read first. To help with your decision, here is a list with some of the best James Patterson books that you should read.
Patterson is one of the most popular authors due in large part to his thriller novels. His books are bestsellers and have been adapted into movies, TV series, and even video games. In addition to thrillers, he has written young adult fiction, children’s literature, short stories, memoirs, and more.
Who is James Patterson?
James Patterson is a bestselling author. He has penned many successful series, including Alex Cross, the Women’s Murder Club, Michael Bennett, Maximum Ride, and more. Collectively his books have sold more than 300 million copies worldwide.
In 2010, Patterson was the first author to sell more than one million e-books. This milestone was achieved nearly 35 years after Patterson published his first novel The Thomas Berryman Number in 1976, which is a true testament to his legacy.
Also, Patterson frequently collaborates with others on writing projects. This includes two collaborations with former US President Bill Clinton. The first is The President Is Missing, published in 2018. The pair collaborated again on another novel, The President’s Daughter, published on June 7, 2021.
Patterson has also donated millions of dollars to schools, teachers, and independent bookstores.
Summary of the Best James Patterson Books
Patterson’s novels are renowned for their unique style and gripping storylines. Continue reading to find summaries for the 15 best James Patterson books.
1. Along Came A Spider
Alex Cross and Jezzie Flanagan are about to have a forbidden love affair at the worst possible time for both of them. Because Gary Soneji is playing at the top of his game.
The latest of the unspeakable crimes happens in Alex Cross’s precinct and it happens under the noses of Jezzie Flanagan’s men.
Now Alex Cross must face the ultimate test: How do you outmaneuver a brilliant psychopath?
This is the first novel in the Alex Cross series.
2. 1st to Die
Inspector Lindsay Boxer, medical examiner Claire Washburn, assistant defence attorney Jill Bernhardt, and reporter Cindy Thomas all hold a key to the puzzle. When their usual procedures aren’t bringing them any closer to stopping the murder, they join forces outside of work. In creating the Women’s Murder Club they develop intense bonds with one another as they track down the most terrifying and unexpected killer they have ever encountered.
This is the first novel in the Women’s Murder Club series.
3. Kiss the Girls
Kiss the Girls is the second Alex Cross novel.
In Los Angeles, a reporter investigating a series of murders is killed. Then, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a beautiful medical intern suddenly disappears.
Meanwhile in Washington D.C., Alex Cross is back to solve the most baffling and terrifying murder case ever. Two clever serial killers are collaborating, cooperating, and competing – and they are working coast to coast.
4. Pop Goes the Weasel
Detective Alex Cross is back in this fifth Alex Cross novel – and he’s in love. But his happiness is threatened by a series of chilling murders in Washington, D.C. Murders with a pattern so twisted they leave investigators reeling.
Cross’s pursuit of the killer produces a suspect: British diplomat Geoffrey Shafer. But proving he’s the murderer becomes a potentially deadly task. As Shafer engages in a brilliant series of surprising counter moves, Alex and his fiancée become hopelessly entangled with the most memorable nemesis Cross has ever faced.
5. The Thomas Berryman Number
James Patterson’s debut novel begins with three terrifying murders in the South. It ends with a relentless and unforgettable manhunt in the North.
In between is the riveting story of a chilling assassin, the woman he loves, and the beloved leader he is hired to kill with extreme prejudice.
Gone is the sixth novel in the Michael Bennett series, a collaboration between James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge.
Manuel Perrine doesn’t fear anyone or anything. A charismatic and ruthless leader, Perrine slaughters rivals as effortlessly as he wears his trademark white linen suit.
Detective Michael Bennett once managed to put Perrine behind bars, the only official in the US ever to accomplish that. But now Perrine is out, and he has sworn to find and kill Bennett and everyone dear to him.
Detective Bennett, along with his ten adopted children, their nanny, and his grandfather, are hidden safely on a rural California farm, with guards courtesy of the FBI’s witness protection program. But then Perrine begins to embark on an escalating series of assassinations across the country, killings whose brazenness and audacity bring into question the possibility of safety and law in the US.
The FBI has no choice but to ask Detective Bennett to risk it all in Perrine’s war on America.
7. The Cornwalls are Gone
The Cornwalls are Gone was written in collaboration with Brendan DuBois. It is the first in the Amy Cornwall series. While it was initially published as The Cornwalls are Gone, the title was changed to The Cornwalls Vanish for subsequent printings.
In her career as an Army intelligence officer, Amy Cornwall has seen haunting sights half a world away. None compare to the chilling scene at her Virginia home.
A phone rings with a terrifying ultimatum: Locate and liberate an unnamed captive in forty-eight hours, or her kidnapped husband and ten-year-old daughter are dead.
Now, and in open defiance of Army Command, Amy must employ every lethal tactic she has to save them. To succeed, she must discover not only who dispatched her on this mission, but why. Without her family, she’s dead either way.
8. Roses Are Red
Roses Are Red is James Patterson’s sixth Alex Cross novel.
In a series of crimes that has stunned Washington, D.C., bank robbers have been laying out precise demands when they enter the building. Then they are killing the bank employees and their families if those instructions are not followed to the letter.
Detective Alex Cross takes on the case, certain that this is no ordinary bank robber at work. The pathological need for control and perfection is too great. Cross is in the midst of a personal crisis at home, but the case becomes all-consuming as he learns that the Mastermind is plotting one huge, last, perfect crime.
9. The Murder House
The Murder House is a standalone novel written in collaboration with David Ellis.
No. 7 Ocean Drive is a gorgeous, multi-million-dollar beachfront estate in the Hamptons, where money and privilege know no bounds.
But its beautiful gothic exterior hides a horrific past: It was the scene of a series of depraved killings that have never been solved. Neglected, empty, and rumored to be cursed, it’s known as the Murder House, and locals keep their distance.
Detective Jenna Murphy used to consider herself a local, but she hasn’t been back since she was a girl. Trying to escape her troubled past and rehabilitate a career on the rocks, the former New York City cop hardly expects her lush and wealthy surroundings to be a hotbed of grisly depravity.
But when a Hollywood power broker and his mistress are found dead in the abandoned Murder House, the gruesome crime scene rivals anything Jenna experienced in Manhattan. And what at first seems like an open and shut case turns out to have as many shocking secrets as the Murder House itself.
Jenna quickly realizes that the mansion’s history is much darker than even the town’s most salacious gossips could have imagined. As more bodies surface, and the secret that Jenna has tried desperately to escape closes in on her, she must risk her own life to expose the truth – before the Murder House claims another victim.
10. The Beach House
The Beach House is a standalone novel written in collaboration with Peter de Jonge.
Jack Mullen is a driven student of the law. His brother Peter is a servant of the rich, parking the cars of the Hamptons’ elite and perhaps satisfying their more intimate needs as well. Then Peter’s body is found on the beach.
Jack knows the drowning was no accident, but someone’s unlimited power and money have bought the cops, the judges, and the system. Now Jack is learning a lesson in justice that he never got in law school. His astonishing plan to beat the billionaires will have you reeling, and cheering, to the very last page.
11. NYPD Red
NYPD Red is the first in James Patterson’s NYPD Red series which is written in collaboration with Marshall Karp.
It’s the start of Hollywood on Hudson, and New York City is swept up in the glamour. With this many celebrities in town, special task force NYPD Red is on high alert. And they can’t afford to make a single mistake.
Then a world-renowned producer fatally collapses at his power breakfast, and top NYPD Red Detective Zach Jordan is the first one on the scene. Zach works with his beautiful new partner, Detective Kylie MacDonald – who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend – to discover who the murderer might be.
But this is only the beginning. The most brutal, public, and horrifyingly spectacular crimes they’ve ever encountered are about to send all of New York into chaos.
Zach and Kylie know there’s no way of telling what a killer this deranged will do next. With the whole world watching, they have to find a way to stop a psychopath who has scripted his finale down to the last explosive detail.
12. Never Never
This novel is the first in James Patterson’s Detective Harriet Blue series, written in collaboration with Candice Fox.
When Sydney police department sex crimes detective Harriet Blue is called into her boss’s office, she never imagined it would be to tell her that her brother is the prime suspect in the brutal murders of three women.
Shocked and in denial, Harry is transferred to Perth to avoid the media exposure this case will attract. Harry is sent into the outback – the never never – to investigate the disappearance of mine worker Danny Carter. The mining town is a seedy place, full of money and immoral ways to spend it.
As Harry delves deeper into the murky lives of these miners, she finds that Danny isn’t the first to go missing.
13. Step on a Crack
This is the first in the Michael Bennett series, a collaboration between James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge.
NYPD detective Michael Bennett is concentrating on getting his family through a particularly difficult Christmas. He and his 10 adopted children are facing the loss to cancer of his brave wife, Maeve.
But a major crisis calls him away. The funeral of a former First Lady at St. Patrick’s Cathedral goes horribly awry when men storm the church and take hundreds of attendees hostage. Michael is asked to try to reason with a sinister man named Jack.
Jack releases all but the most famous people, and makes his demands. He wants several million dollars from each celebrity hostage. Once Jack starts killing, Michael realizes he’s up against a truly diabolical foe.
14. The People vs. Alex Cross
This is the 25th installment in James Patterson’s Alex Cross series.
Alex Cross is on the wrong side of the law. Serving a suspension from the force while he awaits trial for murder, Cross has been branded as a trigger-happy cop, another bad apple walking the streets with a gun, an accusation that Cross will do anything to refute.
To make himself feel useful again, Cross opens a counseling office in the basement of his home. When his former partner Sampson shows up needing his help, Cross jumps at the chance, even if it may end up costing him what’s left of his career.
When a string of young blonde women go missing, the investigation leads Cross and Sampson to the most depraved, darkest corners of the internet. Struggling to prove his own innocence and uncover the truth lurking online, Cross must risk everything to save his most at-risk patient of all…himself.
15. The President is Missing
As mentioned, The President is Missing was written in collaboration with Bill Clinton. It is a standalone novel.
As the novel opens, a threat looms. Enemies are planning an attack of unprecedented scale on America. Uncertainty and fear grip Washington.
There are whispers of cyberterror, espionage, and a traitor in the cabinet. The President himself becomes a suspect, and then he goes missing.
15 Best James Patterson Books Wrap-Up
- Along Came a Spider (1993)
- 1st to Die (2001)
- Kiss the Girls (1995)
- Pop Goes the Weasel (1999)
- The Thomas Berryman Number (1976)
- Gone (2013)
- The Cornwalls are Gone – Also published as The Cornwalls Vanish (2019)
- Roses Are Red (2000)
- The Murder House (2015)
- The Beach House (2002)
- NYPD Red (2012)
- Never Never (2016)
- Step on a Crack (2007)
- The People vs. Alex Cross (2017)
- The President is Missing (2018)
If you are a lover of thriller novels, then you should consider reading the James Patterson books. You will love the action and suspense with which Patterson fills his novels and this list of the 15 best James Patterson books is a great place to start.
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Check out this list of all the James Patterson books in order.