The Red Book

James Patterson and David Ellis. Little, Brown, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-0-316-49940-8

Bestseller Patterson and Ellis’s melodramatic sequel to 2017’s The Black Book finds Det. Billy Harney back on duty after being put on paid administrative leave following his discovery of rampant corruption in the Chicago PD. As the face of reform, he couldn’t be fired after his “one-man wrecking ball to the police department that made Sherman’s march through Atlanta look like a sightseeing tour.” Now distrusted by most of his colleagues, the detective is shocked to get a plum assignment with the Special Operations Section, a newly formed elite unit, led by a police lieutenant who once arrested Harney for murder. The focus of the SOS is on a wave of shootings that has made the Windy City notorious nationwide. The shooter’s identity and motive prove to be more complicated than initially believed, and the overly labyrinthine mystery ends up connecting to a still-fresh trauma in Harney’s past. The fast pace compensates only in part for the formulaic plot and thinly drawn characters. This one’s for established fans only. (Mar.)