James Patterson is a legend of the crime fiction genre. Whether readers enjoy his books or not, there is no denying that his philanthropic contributions to independent bookstores across the country has helped many of them weather difficult times. His output of work is unsurpassed – largely bolstered by his collaboration with co-writers – and James Patterson has a knack for picking the correct collaborators for each project. Which brings us to Run, Rose, Run – his latest thriller – which is co-written with country music superstar legend herself, Dolly Parton. Yes, Dolly Parton, who herself has fostered the literacy rate with her fantastic non-profit, Imagination Library, is now a member of the crime fiction community.
Run, Rose, Run begins with AnnieLee Keyes making the trek to Nashville to begin a career in the music industry. This is the start of many a rags-to-riches story and things are no different here. Once in “Music City,” AnnieLee finds herself homeless and struggling to make a dollar. Her determination finds her begging for any chance to perform at the various saloons and honky-tonks around downtown Nashville. It is at one of those performances where Ethan Blake hears the voice of this angel and introduces AnnieLee to Ruthanna Ryder – reigning queen of the country music scene. Together, these two will set out to launch AnnieLee Keyes’s career.
If all of this sounds a bit like an episode of the television smash Nashville, you would not be too far off the mark. Like that show, Run, Rose, Run provides a detailed account of what it takes to make it in today’s country music field – the trials and tribulations, the ups and downs, the backstabbing and bonding. This background information is so authentic that readers will immediately understand where Dolly Parton’s contributions to this novel lie. These are things that only an insider and veteran of the industry would know. Readers would be forgiven for picturing Dolly as a stand-in for Ruthanna Ryder as they are reading – and in fact with a rumored movie in the works, it would not be surprising to see the two merge on screen sooner rather than later.
Readers looking for a glimpse behind the curtain of Nashville and those working in the city will not be disappointed by Run, Rose, Run. Those wanting a true mystery/thriller plot, however, are likely to come away dissatisfied. It is true that AnnieLee has some secrets in her past and they will be exposed as the novel progresses, but for fans of crime fiction there is not much depth to grasp onto here. AnnieLee’s problems are too stereotypical and lack the feeling of danger and risk the plotline requires. In fact, some of the choices AnnieLee makes only serve to highlight her lack of rational thought on those matters. The good news – for some anyway – is that the thriller aspects are such a small part of the storyline that they do not ruin the overall enjoyment of the book.
Read Run, Rose, Run as a melodramatic telling of how to launch a country music career and not as a story of a woman on the run from the dangers in her past and it is much more likely to satisfy. No one knows the country music industry better than Dolly Parton and that is more than evident throughout the novel. Most of her fans will follow her anywhere and there really is much to enjoy in this quick read.
At the end, readers are given the lyrics to many of the songs discussed throughout the novel and Dolly Parton will release a new album on the same day the book hits the shelves.
Disclaimer: An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.