Also by this author: 1st to Die, 2nd Chance, 3rd Degree, The Horsewoman, 4th of July, The 5th Horseman, The 6th Target, 7th Heaven, The 8th Confession, The 9th Judgment
Series: When the Wind Blows #1
on October 28, 1998
Genres: Fiction, Speculative, Suspense
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Frannie O'Neill is a caring young veterinarian living in the Colorado Rockies, trying to erase the memory of her beloved husband's mysterious murder. It is not long before another neighbor suddenly dies, and FBI agent Kit Harrison arrives at Frannie's doorstep. Kit is hell-bent on solving the heinous case despite resounding protests from the FBI and the thrashing of his own internal demons.
Kit secretly pursues the investigation, yet witnesses keep turning up dead. Then Frannie stumbles upon an astonishing discovery in the nearby woods, and their lives are altered in ways they could never have imagined. Simply knowing the secret of Max -- the terrified 11-year-old girl with an amazing gift -- could mean death.
As more and more diabolical details are unearthed, the murderer's bloody trail ultimately leads the trio to an underground lab network, known as "the School." Here scientists conduct shockingly incomprehensible experiments involving children and genetic alteration.
In a major departure from James Patterson’s previous work, When the Wind Blows is a sci-fi thriller that thrives on the fantastical. The story is about Frannie O’Neill, a young veterinarian, trying to grieve the murder of her husband when tragedy strikes again. When a neighbor is also murdered, she and FBI agent Kit Harrington, work together to solve the case. What they stumble into is so much more.
Secrets abound, the FBI is oddly silent, and Kit and Frannie find themselves working alone. And then they find Max. Max is 11, recently escaped from “The School” along with her young gang of experiments. And she’s part bird.
If you’re thinking, “Isn’t this Maximum Ride?” The answer is yes, but also no. Patterson, along with help from Gabrielle Charbonnet, would retool the concept into a YA juggernaut some eight years later. When the Wind Blows is more focused on Frannie and Kit’s story, meant for adults, and has a lot more depth and nuance.
When the Wind Blows is strangely compelling. The plot probably shouldn’t work. It’s bizarre, considering the corpus of Patterson’s works to this point. I think my opinion of this book was probably positively influenced by my negative opinion of the Maximum Ride books. It felt good to see this story told in a competent fashion that even an average novel would have seemed great. It was a reach for Patterson, who could have remained content with police procedurals. He blends the procedural with the sci-fi, and raises poignant questions about human autonomy, ethics and ethics. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but When the Wind Blows is a strange, solid thriller.