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When the Wind Blows

When the Wind Blows

4.2 330
by James Patterson

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With such terrifying works as Kiss the Girls and Cat & Mouse, James Patterson breathed new life into the serial-killer genre. His new novel, When the Wind Blows, finds the bestselling author turning his attention to supernatural horror for the first time, giving his fans an imaginative, fast-paced medical thriller that soars as high as his main


With such terrifying works as Kiss the Girls and Cat & Mouse, James Patterson breathed new life into the serial-killer genre. His new novel, When the Wind Blows, finds the bestselling author turning his attention to supernatural horror for the first time, giving his fans an imaginative, fast-paced medical thriller that soars as high as his main characters: children who -- thanks to a government experiment -- can actually fly. Plenty of nonmutant humans, both good and evil, abound as well, including kindhearted veterinarian Frannie O'Neill and FBI agent Kit Harrison, who may the only people alive who can uncover the government's demented experiment. Winged kids? Diabolical scientific plots? It's certainly not the usual Patterson fare, but he has little trouble tackling a new subgenre. Fans of John Saul (who had a child-in-grave-danger novel by the same name) and Dean Koontz will particularly appreciate this new direction for the author. Bizarre, suspenseful, and engrossing, When the Wind Blows is poised to be one of this winter's biggest blockbusters.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
October 1998

With five previous number one megabestsellers to his name, James Patterson can take some risks. Acclaimed for his Alex Cross series — Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls, Jack & Jill, Cat & Mouse — Patterson strikes an entirely new chord with When the Wind Blows. A chilling suspense novel — perhaps too realistic for comfort — Patterson combines jaw-dropping scenes, heart-pounding plot twists, and memorable characters in one unforgettable package.

Set against a sinister backdrop of genetic engineering and illegal scientific experimentation, When the Wind Blows dares readers to test their notions of human evolution and medical science. Frannie O'Neill is a caring young veterinarian living in the Colorado Rockies, trying to erase the memory of her beloved husband's mysterious murder. It is not long before another neighbor suddenly dies, and FBI agent Kit Harrison arrives at Frannie's doorstep. Kit is hell-bent on solving the heinous case despite resounding protests from the FBI and the thrashing of his own internal demons.

Kit secretly pursues the investigation, yet witnesses keep turning up dead. Then Frannie stumbles upon an astonishing discovery in the nearby woods, and their lives are altered in ways they could never have imagined. Simply knowing the secret of Max — the terrified 11-year-old girl with an amazing gift — could mean death.

As more and more diabolical details are unearthed, the murderer's bloody trail ultimately leads the trio to an underground lab network, known as "the School." Herescientistsconduct shockingly incomprehensible experiments involving children and genetic alteration.

But perhaps not so unfathomable: Doctors and medical researchers who have read Where the Wind Blows say the events described in this book could actually be a reality in the next 20 to 30 years. If not before.

Mark Graham
It has been more than a decade since I was captivated by a book like I was captivated by this one.
Rocky Mountain News
Library Journal
Still mourning her dead husband, veterinarian Frannie O'Neill makes an awful discovery near her hospital. What's more, an FBI agent is tapping at her door.

Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
13 Years

Read an Excerpt



"SOMEBODY PLEASE help me! Somebody please! Can anybody hear me?"

Max's screams pierced the clear mountain air. Her throat and lungs were beginning to hurt, to burn.

The eleven-year-old girl was running as fast as she could from the hateful, despicable School. She was strong, but she was beginning to tire. As she ran, her long blond hair flared behind her like a beautiful silk scarf. She was pretty, even though there were dark, plum-colored circles under her eyes.

She knew the men were coming to kill her. She could hear them hurrying through the woods behind her.

She glanced over her right shoulder, painfully twisting her neck. She flashed a mental picture of her little brother, Matthew. Where was he? The two of them had separated just outside the School, both running and screaming.

She was afraid Matthew was already dead. Uncle Thomas probably got him. Thomas had betrayed them and that hurt so much she couldn't stand to think about it.

Tears rolled down her cheeks. The hunters were closing in. She could feel their heavy footsteps thumping hard and fast against the crust of the earth.

A throbbing, orange and red ball of sun was sinking below the horizon. Soon it would be pitch-black and cold out here in the Front Range of the Rockies. All she wore was a simple tube of white cotton, sleeveless, loosely drawn together at the neck-line and waist. Her feet were wrapped in thin-soled ballet slippers.

Move. She urged her aching, tired body on. She could go faster than this. She knew she could.

The twisting path narrowed, then wound around a great, mossy-green shoulder of rock. She clawed and struggled forward through more thick tangles of branches and brush.

The girl suddenly stopped. She could go no further.

A huge, high fence loomed above the bushes. It was easily ten feet. Rows of razor-sharp concertina wire were tangled and coiled across the top.


Max bent over and cupped her hands over her bare knees. She was blowing out air, wheezing hard, trying to keep from weeping.

The hunters were almost there. She could hear, smell, sense their awful presence.

With a sudden flourish, she unfurled her wings. They were white and silver-tipped and appeared to have been unhinged. The wings sailed to a point above her head, seemingly of their own accord. Their span was nine feet. The sun glinted off the full array of her plumage.

Max started to run again, flapping her wings hard and fast. Her slippered feet lifted off the hardscrabble.

She flew over the high barbed wire like a bird.


FIVE ARMED MEN ran quietly and easily through the ageless boulders and towering aspens and ponderosa pines. They didn't see her yet, but they knew it wouldn't be long before they caught up with the girl.

They were jogging rapidly, but every so often the man in front picked up the pace a significant notch or two. All of them were competent trackers, good at this, but he was the best, a natural leader. He was more focused, more controlled, the best hunter.

The men appeared calm on the outside, but inside it was a different story. This was a critical time. The girl had to be captured, and brought back. She shouldn't have gotten out here in the first place. Discretion was critical; it always had been, but never more than right now.

The girl was only eleven, but she had "gifts," and that could present a formidable problem outdoors. Her senses were acute; she was incredibly strong for her size, her age, her gender; and of course, there was the possibility that she might try to fly.

Suddenly, they could see her up ahead: she was clearly visible against the deep blue background of the sky.

"Tinkerbell. Northwest, fifty degrees," the group leader called out.

She was called Tinkerbell, but he knew she hated the name. The only name she answered to was Max, which wasn't short for Maxine, or Maximillian, but for Maximum. Maybe because she always gave her all. She always went for it. Just as she was doing right now.

There she was, in all her glory! She was running at full speed, and she was very close to the perimeter fence. She had no way of knowing that. She'd never been this far from home before.

Every eye was on her. None of them could look away, not for an instant. Her long hair streamed behind her, and she seemed to flow up the steep, rocky hillside. She was in great shape; she could really move for such a young girl. She was a force to reckon with out here in the open.

The man running in front suddenly pulled up. Harding Thomas stopped short. He threw up his arm to halt the others. They didn't understand at first, because they thought they had her now.

Then, almost as if he'd known she would -- she took off. She flew. She was going over the concertina wire of the ten-foot-high perimeter fence.

The men watched in complete silence and awe. Their eyes widened. Blood rushed to their brains and made a pounding sound in their ears.

She opened to a full wingspan and the movement seemed effortless. She was a beautiful, natural flyer. She flapped her white and silver wings up and down, up and down. The air actually seemed to carry her along, like a leaf on the wind.

"I knew she'd try to go over." Thomas turned to the others and spit out the words. "Too bad."

He lifted his rifle to his shoulder. The girl was about to disappear over the nearest edge of the canyon wall. Another second or two and she'd be gone from sight.

He pulled the trigger.


KIT HARRISON was headed to Denver from Boston. He was good-looking enough to draw looks on the airplane: trim, six foot two, sandy-blond hair. He was a graduate of NYU Law School. And yet he felt like such a loser.

He was perspiring badly in the cramped and claustrophobic middle-aisle airplane seat of an American Airlines 747. He was so obviously pathetic that the pleasant and accommodating flight attendant stopped and asked if he was feeling all right. Was he ill?

Kit told her that he was just fine, but it was another lie, the mother of all lies. His condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder and sometimes featured nasty anxiety attacks that left him feeling he could die right there. He'd been suffering from the disorder for close to four years.

So yeah, I am ill, Madame Flight Attendant. Only it's a little worse than that.

See, I'm not supposed to be going to Colorado. I'm supposed to be on vacation in Nantucket. Actually, I'm supposed to be taking some time off, getting my head screwed on straight, getting used to maybe being fired from my job of twelve years.

Getting used to not being an FBI agent anymore, not being on the fast track at the Bureau, not being much of anything.

The name computer-printed on his plane ticket read Kit Harrison, but it wasn't his real name. His name was Thomas Anthony Brennan. He had been Senior FBI Agent Brennan, a shooting star at one time. He was thirty-eight, and lately, he felt he was feeling his age for the first time in his life.

From this moment on, he would forget the old name. Forget his old job, too.

I'm Kit Harrison. I'm going to Colorado to hunt and fish in the Rockies. I'll keep to that simple story. That simple lie.

Kit, Tom, whoever the hell he was, hadn't been up in an airplane in nearly four years. Not since August 9, 1994. He didn't want to think about that now.

So Kit pretended he was asleep as the sweat continued to trickle down his face and neck, as the fear inside him built way past the danger level. He couldn't get his mind to rest, even for just a few minutes. He had to be on this plane.

He had to travel to Colorado.

It was all connected to August 9, wasn't it? Sure it was. That was when the stress disorder had begun. This was for Kim and for Tommy and for Michael -- little Mike the Tyke.

And oh yeah, it also happened to be hugely beneficial for just about everybody else on the planet. Very strange -- but that last outrageous bit was absolutely true, scarily true. In his opinion, nothing in history was more important than what he'd come here to investigate.

Unless he was crazy.

Which was a distinct possibility.

Meet the Author

James Patterson has had more New York Times bestsellers than any other writer, ever, according to Guinness World Records. Since his first novel won the Edgar Award in 1977 James Patterson's books have sold more than 300 million copies. He is the author of the Alex Cross novels, the most popular detective series of the past twenty-five years, including Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.

Brief Biography

Palm Beach, Florida
Date of Birth:
March 22, 1947
Place of Birth:
Newburgh, New York
B.A., Manhattan College, 1969; M.A., Vanderbilt University, 1971

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When the Wind Blows 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 330 reviews.
songcatchers More than 1 year ago
When the Wind Blows is an entertaining mystery/suspense page turner. It's about some genetic researchers who create a small group of children with wings. They can fly like birds. They unethically experiment on children in a secret laboratory in the mountains. But one day, two of the children escape. And that's where the thrills begin.
The truly scary part is that it's all plausible. James Patterson writes at the end of the book how all the scientists he interviewed said that the things that happened in the book are already happening or are going to happen in our lifetimes. So maybe one day, all our childhood fantasies of flying will really come true. I'm looking forward to starting on the sequel, The Lake House.
terratad More than 1 year ago
Time will fly & you'll be halfway through the book before you know it. It's a really cool book & hard to put down until you finish it. I can't wait to read the sequel to this one called The Lake House.
H20SkiGal More than 1 year ago
As I always do when I read any book, I go through and read some reviews so I know what I'm up against. In this book's case, the very first review I read on this book said that it was "amateurish" writing and that the characters were one dimensional. In fact, there were quite a few negative reviews on this book. I came upon this book and ended up picking it up on the recommendation of my sister in law. This book is the .5 book in the "Angel Experiment" series so I got it, along with the first book in the series from my library, so I could read both. I wasn't sure how well I would like the books after what I read from reviews but I thought I'd give 'er a go. I am SO glad I did. I found this book to be a true page turner from the get go. Something about Patterson's writing style always draws me in even though I'm not a real fan of his books. Its weird because I like everything I've read that he's written, but his usual murder mystery genre doesn't work for me. THIS story though really struck me as fascinating and the fact that it *could* be true, really fascinates me more. One dimensional characters? I really found the opposite to be true. I found the dimension that was given was just perfect and worked well with the story. It was exciting and a little romance was thrown in (which for me is always a plus) and I am really anxious to start the next book in the series. Quite a few readers must feel as I do because the series is a popular one. The next book in the series seems to be a follow up to this book but then the Angel Experiment series branches out? I'm confused and I'll have to figure that out. All in all though, I say poo to the other reviewers, This was a darned good book! As much as it pains me to say this, my sister in law was right! What I disliked: Each chapter in the book represented the view of a particular character. One of the characters switched to first person and that switch between third person and first person back and forth annoyed me. I don't mind either view, I just don't like it switching back and forth. What I liked: This is going to sound sort of goofy, but as I am writing this I'm thinking back on the ugliness of scientific research that is set in the contrasting beauty of the Colorado mountains. I don't know if that was meant for the location of this story, but it hit me. When it did, I realized that the book affected me and I liked that. I am very anxious to start the next book in the series, whatever book that is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
WTWB was my first introduction to James Patterson. Newer Patterson readers should know that WTWB was way before Maximum Ride. It's also a more scientifically plausable 'suspension of disbelief' that MaxRide. The fan response was so strong that Patterson continued the story with Lake House, then, as the preface to MaxRide reads, MaxRide morphed with similarities, but different. I highly recommend the audio set of WTWB. It's great. Great delivery, great for road trip. Max books are fun for young readers. WTWB is has a few more technical, graphical and bit of sexual content.
Bobbo More than 1 year ago
This book is a great addition to any reader's library. The characters are a ton of fun, and Patterson's short chapters will reel you in, and you'll soon forget you've already been reading for four hours. While the plot doesn't always make sense in some regards, and the idea is very similar to Koontz Sole Survivor (not sure which was wrote first), the book is still a fantastic read. It is one of Patterson's best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really didn't think I would like this book, my friend let me borrow this and The Lake House. It took me forever to start reading because they sounded so strange. I was really surprised, I really loved them. I love the genetic aspects of the plot. Now I need to go buy the other Maximum Ride books. I can't seem to find them used, I guess everyone is keeping their copies.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you ask me it starts off a littil confusing but once you get into it its a whole lot better! Its starts off like that in most books, so owe'll. But its a really awsome book !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
People who r confused about the series, dont be. If you actually read the maximum ride series that series does not have anything to do with the books: when the wind blows or the lake house. Im 8 and even i know that. Btw im smart for my age. Im in the sixth grade. Proof: an atom is made up of 3 different molicueles, a proton wich is positivily charged an electron wich is negitivly charged and a neutron wich is niether.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you've read Maximum Ride, knowing Patterson got his inspiration from this book, and you don't think this will live up to Max and the gangs journeys, then you're wrong.
When the Wind Blows is an awesome book. I'd recommend it to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it. This is the 3rd time I've read this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book!! Patterson is the best!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am reading this in class and this is probably the best book ever
GHott More than 1 year ago
Kit knows there is something connecting the sudden demise of these doctors but his boss at the FBI has told him in no uncertain terms that Kit must drop it or lose his job. Frannie still is unable to move past her husband's death. Every night brings her yet another dream of him. She knows she's missing something but just can't place her finger on it. Max has finally escaped. Sure she's only eleven, but Max knows even running like this is better than staying there another minute. Now, she just needs to find out whether he made it out alive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about wonderful and not so wonderful things. There are several kids, that can fly, they are very skeptical of everything around them, including the people that found one of them, Frannie O'Neil, and Kit Harrison These kids are the most special kids ever made. They were designed and made in a lab that they named the school. There are several of these kids, their names are: Max, Oymandis (Oz), Icarus, Peter, and Wendy. Together they bring down the evil place that tortured them This book is one of many great books written by James Patterson, and is the first of two in a series, it is a great fast read, that puts every image in your head as you turn through the incredibly short chapters of this good book. Overall this book is a good book that could use some better editing and some longer chapters, but it is one of the best books that I have read, and it is definitely the most thrilling book I have ever read. This book is one of the best books written in the last 20 years, and it could remain that way for a very long time, overall it is a great book that needs some longer chapters, and some better editing, I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
RedMB More than 1 year ago
James Patterson is one of my favorite authors, and the library in our guest room looks like we ONLY read his books. Every time we go on a flight, both my husband and I choose a new James Patterson novel - and off we go into another dimension. My favorite Patterson novel of all times is "When the Wind Blows". When you read about the magical "science-created" children who have beautiful wings and hollow bones, and can fly and zoom through the forest; you think the book is a fairy tale. But, when James Patterson delves into the world of science and gene sharing, you realize that something like this could actually happen. I have a friend who has Love Birds in her home. I told her that this book was right up her alley, so bought it for her for her birthday - and she absolutely loved it! James Patterson can spin a tale like no one else - making the reader feel like they are right in there as part of the action. The reader gets all wrapped up in the characters; but as Patterson always delivers - there is always an undercurrent of evil. I truly hope that Hollywood recognizes this book as true entertainment - and decides to make a movie out of it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not as good as some of his other books . Was hard for me to get into . Didn't read all of it.
malawi447 More than 1 year ago
mrsboone4 More than 1 year ago
A great James Patterson read. Kept me interested, all the way through. A medical mystery, makes you wonder what scientists are up to in their labs....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who knew that the book that inspired maximum ride would be such a thriller?!Even though its James Patterson I could never expect the thrill of this book!Everyone should read this book!(BTW[By the way] this t z
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really liked this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book will captivate anyone who loves scifi and mysteries. Franie O'neil finds 12 year old max who was being brutally abused at a place called the school. You will love this book i recomen you buy this book. You wont be abl to put it down.