Veena Lion & Cooper Lamb

Created by James Patterson & Duane Swierczynski

“Why don’t you try Veena? She’s the best. Well, second best…”
— Cooper asks why his clients didn’t consider Veena

In Patterson and Swierczynski’s first novel-length P.I. yarn, Lion & Lamb (2023), VEENA LION and COOPER LAMB are (mostly) friendly rival private eyes in Philadelphia, well aware of each other–if not exactly fans.

Easy-going Cooper is middle-aged and divorced, but trying the best he can to be a good father, spouting dad jokes to his wisecracking kids Ariel (10) and Cooper Jr. (8), and making sure to walkg his beloved “associate,” Lupe, a Rhodesian ridgeback puppy, on a regular basis. He even gets along with his ex. He’s ex-Army Intelligence and is generally considered, as one of his clients points out, as the “best P.I. in the city.”

Meanwhile, Veena is younger, single, more buttoned-down and ambitious, not content with being “second best.”

And then one cold January night one of the city’s most beloved figures, the Super Bowl-bound Philadelphia Eagles’ star quarterback Archie Hughes is shot dead in his Maserati. On the eve of the Super Bowl.

Even worse for the city? His wife, Francine Pearl Hughes, a Beyoncé-like, Grammy-winning singer and movie star who’s possibly even more adored by the locals than her husband is the one charged with his murder.

Then the real fun begins. Veena, never a big fan of big, slick law firms, has been tapped by the Philadelphia DA to help build the case against Francine while Cooper, on the other side of the aisle, is hired by Kaplan, DePaulo and Marchese, the city’s top criminal defense firm, to work on Francine’s defense.

Kaplan, DePaulo and Marchese, it should be noted, are about as big and slick as they come.

The story flips back and forth from one detective to the other as the case wends its way to trial, in short, punchy paragraphs à la Patterson, and a lot of the action unfolds in transcripts of conversations between the at-odds gumshoes and their various clients, suspects and witnesses, adding a dry, just the facts McBain wash to the proceedings. Fortunately, someone (Swierczynski?) managed to slip in plenty of snappy repartee into those transcripts, and plenty of Philly shoutouts, as the rivals sputter and flash, and sparks of an unexpected, Cheers-like romance dart through the air.

I’m not sure if this will be a series or not, but this thing just zipped along, and Patterson and Swierczynski have collaborated on several books before, including The House Husband (2017), The Shut-In (2017), Stingray (2017) and the YA book Unbelievably Boring Bart (2018), and both have played the Shamus Game before.


James Patterson, the world’s bestselling author, may be best known as the creator of Alex Cross, but he has probably produced, alone and with his numerous collaborators, more more fictional heroes than any other novelist alive. Including the bestselling Private series, which follows the adventures of various operatives for a large international detective agency with offices all over the world, coincidentally written with writers from all over the world. Patterson? He lives in Florida with his family.

Duane Swierczynski is the two-time Edgar-nominated author of ten novels including The BlondeRevolverThe Wheelman, as well as the graphic novel Breakneck, many of which are in development for film/TV, as well as writing for Marvel Comics. Among the P.I.s he’s created are Del Farmer and John MacNeil, both of whom made their debuts on Thrilling Detective. Duane lives in Southern California with his family.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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