Have You Read?: ‘Black Friday’ a novel worth revisiting
May 14, 2008
“Black Friday” by James Patterson
Sept. 11, 2001, changed everything for people living in the United States. Our fundamental view of the world, and what was possible within that world, shifted at such a base level that we literally altered the very way we think. Of course, the differences were stark at first; acute in the face of the attacks and in the weeks and months that followed, we underwent a transformation of habits, prejudices and views on a vast level. Some might say America grew up.
As time has passed – seven years now – those changes have become so ingrained and systemic that we hardly notice the differences anymore. Travel security measures are commonplace, and we all know to plan ahead for delays and inspections. The initial grumbling and resistance has become more of a grudging resignation to procedure. The inconvenience placed on our lives has settled into the mere routine, and we give little thought to our changed environment or the loss of a blithe disregard for the dangers of living in a global community.
Although our daily routines have changed, generally we continue much as before, thanks to the government agencies tasked with our safety and defense. Nowhere are the effects of change more apparent than in the financial and law-enforcement worlds. Usually, most of us only have only a peripheral understanding of the comprehensive and exhaustive efforts that continually operate to ensure there are no terrorist threats to our economy and general safety.
One way to bring into stark contrast the attitudes and naivete that existed before the 9/11 attacks it to indulge in a book written before that tragic day.
“Black Friday” is just such an experience. James Patterson’s 1989 financial terrorist novel begins with a disclaimer that the events depicted are fictional but all too possible in the fading Cold War world in which it is set. From the perspective of almost 20 years later, the grim reality of large-scale terrorism in the heart of America’s financial world has been illustrated clearly in nonfiction terms. The interesting comparison between the actions and reactions of law enforcement and counterterrorist units of two decades ago makes this well-written novel a compelling case study of just how ill-prepared our country was for 9/11.
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The intellectual study of this late-’80s thriller does not detract from the excellent writing and well-researched background for which Patterson has become famous. Indeed, the comparisons serve to further spice up the excitement as the reader follows the diverse characters through the narrative.
Mainly set in New York City, the story centers around the bombing and investigation of the Wall Street district and the effects both have on the world economy and the American way of life. Despite the story’s anachronisms, which I thought made it even more interesting, it is hard to put down such a fast-paced and terrifying novel. Without a doubt, “Black Friday” can be viewed as a history lesson and thoroughly entertaining read, all rolled into one.
If you are an old fan of Patterson or a newcomer to his solid thriller style, you may want to pick up a copy of his newest novel, “Sundays at Tiffany’s,” which was co-written with Gabrielle Charbonnet and was just released April 28.
– Michael Stroschein is a local luftmensch who also is an avid reader.