If you have any interest in the 2012 London Olympics, you’ll probably find “Private Games,” an action-packed mystery,especially enjoyable. Peter Knight is a single father of twin toddlers who once was a special investigator to the Central Criminal Court. But now he is an investigator for a firm called Private International. This company is in charge of security at the 2012 Olympics. There’s work to do.
Sir Denton Marshall, philanthropist, organizing member of the Olympic Committee and the fiancee of Knight’s mother, is brutally murdered. A mastermind criminal named Cronus has admitted in a letter to killing Sir Denton because , he says, Denton and others have defiled the true spirit of the Olympics. Cronus further states that he and his Furies will “expose the monsters and slay them for the good of the games.” Knight and Chief Inspector Elaine Pottersfield, who happens to be Knight’s sister-in-law, go on the hunt for Cronus.
Their efforts are joined by Karen Pope, a reporter for a British tabloid who is receiving communication from Cronus.
As the story progresses, we catch glimpses of Cronus’ past through flashbacks.
He was neglected by his parents, who were drug addicts. He put a knife through his drug-addled mother when he was 4, after which he ended up in foster care, where the storms in his head began to rage. When he was 10, he ran away. but was attacked and stoned by teenagers. Cronus ended up first in the hospital and then back in the same foster home he had fled.
Along the way to adulthood he learned to be cold and calculating behind a normal facade. He later killed the two boys who attacked him. He was assigned to the Balkans on a peacekeeping mission, where he was attacked and wandered aimlessly while injured.
He ran into seven Bosnians who were holding three women captive. He rescued the women, who become part of his team, and named them the Furies. He gave them identities and they began eventually training and planning for his assault on the 2012 Olympics.
At the opening ceremonies, with 80,000 on fans on site and millions of television viewers, security seemed “brilliant.” Then, Paul Teeter, the American shot putter who had the honor of carrying the American flag, collapsed to the ground convulsing with bloody foam on his lips.
Knight has several possible suspects for Cronus. One is Selena Farrell, a professor of the classics who fought against the use of eminent domain to build venues for the Olympics.
Another suspect is James Daring, a curator of Greek antiquities whose exhibit was not supported by Sir Denton. Knight is scrambling to catch Cronus, but his twins are so unruly that he has trouble finding a nanny who will stay with them for more than a few days. While taking his twins to the park, he runs into a perfect nanny… or at least she seems like the perfect nanny.
Patterson and Sullivan have done their homework on this summer’s London Olympics and create a credible setup with details of specific competitions, including diving and track.
The closing ceremony will have readers on the edge of their seats. Although readers who have been to London might enjoy more depictions of street life, the authors flesh out scenes with Tube station stops, local food and some familiar sites. James Patterson is a bestselling author who recently added to his “Alex Cross” series with “Kill Alex Cross” and has distinguished himself as a writer of young adult fiction.
Mark Sullivan has written eight mystery and suspense novels, including “Rogue,” which is due out in October.
Maggie Braun is a teacher at Manhattan High School.