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James Patterson’s Civil Rights Era Murder Mystery ‘The Thomas Berryman Number’ to Be Adapted as a TV Series

James Patterson's Civil Rights Era Murder Mystery 'The Thomas Berryman Number' to Be Adapted as a TV Series

Having read 4 of his novels, I can’t call myself a fan of author James Patterson’s novels. There’s a reason why they are sometimes labeled as “Airport novels,” because they are typically fast-paced, superficially engaging and cliched, while not being particularly profound, nor, dare I say, well-written – at least in Patterson’s case.

Of course that’s just my opinion. You might feel differently.

So I’m not particularly moved by this news of another screen adaptation of one of his works, especially after previous adaptations really underwhelmed – most recently, Tyler Perry’s awful attempt at bringing Alex Cross to the big screen – a wasted opportunity.

That said, I’m sure if this makes it to series (this time it’s a TV adaptation), I’ll at least check out a few episodes, given the subject matter, which is intriguing, as well as the behind-the-camera talent involved.

In short, Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Productions has teamed up with veteran writer and showrunner Rene Balcer (“Law & Order,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and more) and author James Patterson, for what is being pitched as a TV serial adaptation of Patterson’s very first novel – a Civil Rights era crime drama titled “The Thomas Berryman Number.” 

CBS has picked up a pilot for the potential series.

Sadly it’s not one of the 4 Patterson novels I’ve read, so I can’t offer any useful commentary on it. But if you’ve read it, I’d love to read your thoughts.

“The Thomas Berryman Number” follows the investigation and research of a Nashville reporter into the murder of Jimmie Lee Horn, Nashville’s first black mayors. It’s set in the early 1970s, and, according to summaries and reviews of it I read before typing up this post, it’s a murder investigation that’s tightly wrapped up in racial tensions: “In Nashville, Tennessee, the whole city mourns as Jimmie Horne, the city’s first black mayor, is shot dead by a crazed hippie, a mourning broken by shock when the assassin is himself gunned-down by a professional hitman. Ochs Jones, a reporter for a Nashville paper, smells something fishy and begins to investigate, starting with a private mental hospital in upstate New York, where a patient has been raving about the assassination since almost a week before it happened. Partially told in the form of Jones’s letters and notes, the novel chronicles his investigation of the Horne slaying. Soon, he unearths the presence of a third shooter, a professional killer named Thomas Berryman who specializes in accidents and suicides. The novel also traces Berryman’s path, from New York to New Orleans to Nashville, and his preparations for the biggest murder since Martin Luther King, Jr. was slain.”

Intrigued? You can do what I did today, and pick up a copy of the novel for yourself, via Amazon.com HERE.

The novel won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author as well as the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery, so maybe this is the one James Patterson novel I should be reading, given the accolades.  

No ETA on the potential TV series yet.

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