Patterson, like Clive Cussler and some others, is a big-time best-selling author who has increased his output by collaborating with others. Only he and his co-authors know for sure how much either contributed, although this USA Today interview suggests that the ideas, outline, polish and coaching come from Patterson in many of these collaborations, while a lot of the writing comes from the collaborator. As I'm not a Patterson fan, Don't Look Twice is my first exposure to Gross, and probably my last.
Ty Hauck, now somewhat famous for his role in the story Gross told in The Dark Tide, finds himself at the center of a drive-by shooting that also endangers his teenage daughter. Thus motivated, the chief of detectives of bucolic Greenwich, Conn., sets out to find out who's behind the shooting, which had as its only victim a man who turns out to be a U.S. attorney. Hauck probes the mystery through several wrong turns, while his personal life deteriorates around him. His ex-wife brings his daughter home with her following the shooting and the woman with whom he began a relationship in the earlier book decides to stay in Atlanta to care for her ailing father. His brother reconnects with him after his home life goes south, offering even more tension as the two will try to resolve hard feelings of the past. A relationship with a potential witness, Annie Fletcher, alleviates some of the darkness, but even this potential bright spot has some shadows.
Gross weaves the case through several different scenarios, each rejected by Hauck as he discovers new information about the man who was killed. In the end we find out exactly what happened and why -- sort of. Actually, Gross winds up dumping the information, which involves war profiteering and corporate shenanigans in Iraq as well as Native American casino gambling, on us from the mouth of one of the men who's spent most of the book trying to keep Hauck from learning everything he openly shares with the detective. It's clumsy, implausible and a kind of a cheat for the reader. Gross is also in love with italicized words, throwing them around so often for emphasis they lose pretty much all of their impact and mostly annoy more than anything else.
Thriller author Steve Berry supplies a cover blurb, saying that Don't Look Twice is "paced with throat-clutching suspense, and littered with surprises." I agree and actually wonder if Berry was pulling someone's leg. Gross does indeed litter his story with surprises, like people "pouring" over documents and handling a thick "sheath" of papers, as well as a jail guard watching a Yankees baseball game on TV in a story set after Thanksgiving. And it certainly had me clutching at my throat more than once.
In the end, Don't Look Twice is more than a title -- it's excellent advice when it comes to this book. Even better would have been "Don't look once," but I've always been a little hard-headed when it comes to good advice.