The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund – Book Review [Bane of Kings]

The Postcard Killers

Bane of Kings reviews The Postcard Killers, a thriller novel that sees James Patterson, a worldwide bestselling author, team up with Liza Marklund, who has been labelled as Scandinavia’s undisputed queen of Crime Fiction, and is the Number 1 International Bestseller of the Annika Bengtzon series.

A fast paced thriller that you won’t be able to put down. ~The Founding Fields

I read and devoured The Postcard Killers on the second stage of my journey back from my Easter Holiday/Vacation (UK/US), and whilst it isn’t something that I would normally read (as I prefer to stick to Patterson’s Alex Cross series when reading Crime novels), Postcard Killers took me by surprise. I’ve seen a decrease in the quality of Patterson’s work lately, particularly when working with another author. But I’d thought that, even though I haven’t heard of Liza Marklund before, she’s an International bestseller, or at least, according to my sources. So naturally, I decided that I’d give it a shot. And did I like it? Well, in a way – yes. I haven’t read a Patterson Crime novel outside his Alex Cross series with the exception of Run for Your Life (Michael Bennett #2, so I figured that I’d give another one of his thrillers a try, and I figured that It would be a change of pace, particularly after reading loads of Black Library novels over Easter. The Postcard Killers fit the bill perfectly, in my opinion, and not just because it was the only Patterson novel that they had in the shop aside from Don’t Blink, which is another one by novel. However, The Postcard Killers isn’t perfect though, and whilst I enjoyed it, I did have some big issues with it, which you’ll find out more of below, following the blurb from the Goodreads page for The Postcard Killers:

Paris is stunning in the summer

NYPD detective Jacob Kanon is on a tour of Europe’s most gorgeous cities. But the sights aren’t what draw him–he sees each museum, each cathedral, and each cafe through the eyes of his daughter’s killer.

The killing is simply marvelous

Kanon’s daughter, Kimmy, and her boyfriend were murdered while on vacation in Rome. Since then, young couples in Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, and Stockholm have been found dead. Little connects the murders, other than a postcard to the local newspaper that precedes each new victim. 

Wish you were here

Now Kanon teams up with the Swedish reporter, Dessie Larsson, who has just received a postcard in Stockholm–and they think they know where the next victims will be. With relentless logic and unstoppable action, The Postcard Killers may be James Patterson’s most vivid and compelling thriller yet.

Now before we get any further with this review, I’d like to point out that every new novel by Patterson is described as being one of his best thrillers yet, so don’t be enthralled by the bottom paragraph. Trust me when I say this, The Postcard Killers is not Patterson’s best novel.  However, that doesn’t stop it from being enjoyable though.

If you’ve read as many Patterson novels as I have, by now you’ll come to expect that his books will not only be fast paced with the ability to keep you flicking through the pages as fast as you can, but also have really, really short chapters. The plot will be packed with twists and turns, and it will usually be told in first person. The Postcard Killers fits all the quirks of an average Patterson apart from the last one. There is no first person, instead the narrative is split between various Third Person POVs, chiefly that of the Postcard Killers themselves, the POV of Jacob Kanon, and also the POV of Swedish reporter Dessie Larsson. All POVs are interlinked in a way that won’t leave you skipping forward to find out what happens to the other character, as they basically follow similar story threads throughout The Postcard Killers.

Although The Postcard Killers may not be the work of a genius, it is a quick and easy read. Filled with creepy ideas that will disturb almost anybody, this novel is a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s start off then, with the Good.

The novel is entertaining, unputdownable and fast paced. There are little plot threads left hanging although the plot itself takes a little while to make sense, and The Postcard Killers fills its role quite well as a thriller to read whilst you’re on holiday/vacation. The storyline moves quickly and there are no slow parts, which can be said for any novel by James Patterson that I’ve read so far.

Now to get to the characters. For a start, they’re not very memorable. Jacob Kanon and Dessie Larsson are the main stars in The Postcard Killers, and with two lead roles that are both male and female, it is pretty much certain these days, in most genres,  that there will be some sort of relationship between them. And, Patterson’s novel is no exception. Although there are problems with the relationship issues. It just didn’t feel as well written as the rest of the novel, and anything that comes to romance is probably Patterson’s weak spot. He can write enjoyable thrillers, but when it comes to romance, and to a certain extent, characters… well, the results are not as good as the thrilling side of the novel, which is a real shame, as I really wanted to love The Postcard Killers. I liked it, sure – but I reckon if Patterson or Marklund had done a few changes, then the end result could have been a whole lot better, more along the lines of Patterson’s superb (mostly) Alex Cross novels, and less along the lines of a poorly written co-authored Patterson novel such as Witch and Wizard (this may be YA, but still…).

The action is quite well written, and the killings are brutal, and there are quite a few twists and turns in this novel to up the tension a bit more. Although The Postcard Killers may not be a work of genius, you will probably find yourself enjoying it.

Verdict: 3/5

More Standalone thrillers by James Patterson: Now You See Her (with Michael Ledwidge), Toys (with Neal McMahon), Don’t Blink (with Howard Roughan), Swimsuit (with Maxine Paetro), Sail (with Howard Roughan), Kill Me If You Can (with Marshall Karp), Black Market.

Where Can I Buy this Book?,, Barnes and Noble, James Patterson’s website.

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer