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Author James Patterson Examines The Rise And Fall Of Aaron Hernandez

In this Aug. 30, 2016 file photo, author James Patterson poses for a portrait in New York.
Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP

WGBH's Henry Santoro interviewed author James Patterson, about his latest book, "All American Murder — The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez." The transcript below has been edited for clarity. Click on the audio player above to listen to the full interview.

Henry Santoro: Several months ago after former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez hanged himself in a Massachusetts prison, mega best-selling author James Patterson, yes, that James Patterson, came out with “All American Murder — The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez, the Superstar Whose Life Ended on Murderers’ Row." And Mr. Patterson, I want to thank you so much for joining us here on WGBH.

James Patterson: Yeah, it's a good topic and something very interesting to talk about, think about, and write about.

HS:  Now, I know just from reading up on your background that you always have several projects going at once.

JP: I never know how many, but I know what they are, I just don’t know how many of them there are.

Author James Patterson's most recent book is on the death and criminal past of former football player Aaron Hernandez
James Patterson

HS: What was it about this Aaron Hernandez story that made you put everything on hold to get this book out?

JP: I didn't put everything on hold. But I think personally, that this is the most dramatic murder story in the last 25 years, and I include OJ in there. You know, the OJ murder, it was one incident. I think that had he committed the murder in Buffalo, where he played his pro career, where he had his pro career, I think that story would have faded. But the fact that he did it in L.A. and Hollywood and the dream team, it took on a life of its own.

But I think the Hernandez story is much more complex. The fall from grace is unbelievable. I mean here's a guy, handsome, could be articulate when he wanted to be, great smile, dimple, Hollywood, you know, kind of smile, a $40 million contract. You know, potential to be one of the best pro football players ever, and sweetheart from high school, little girl, little baby girl, and it all goes up in smoke. I mean that's just, that's just stunning.

HS: You call the story, you call you call it complicated, you call it troubling, you call it fascinating. It's a story, that as you know, New Englanders here have followed, since day one, mostly because it happened in our backyard. And he was a New England Patriot, and Patriots Nation is rampant here.

JP: Yeah. Well you know my family moved up to outside of Boston when I was a teenager. So, I followed, as a kid, I followed the Patriots. Actually, when I first moved up here, they were the Boston Patriots. But, I followed the Patriots, the Celtics, and the Sox. I never followed the Bruins, for some reason.

HS: I've got to count you in as a fan. 

JP: You can.

HS: Is there still more to come out from this story?

JP: I would assume, somewhere along the way, that his fiancé, will get a book out there. I imagine, if she reveals some things that we don't know, that could be interesting. I mean, if she really feels she has information that he is a murderer that will be somewhat new. Obviously, the CTE story is going to keep growing.

HS: Were there any times that in writing this book, you said to yourself, if put this in an Alex Cross mystery, no one would believe it?

JP: Oh for sure. If I came up with that plot idea, if I wrote the book, I think people would say, 'Come on, Patterson, you’re going over the top here, this just would never happen.' One of the other strange things, when I went up to Souza-Baranowski Prison, which is where he killed himself, they have a library system. If inmates use the library, they have a card and they are allowed to put down their favorite authors. And Hernandez's favorite authors were: one, James Patterson, two, John Grisham, and three, Michael Connelly.

HS: Oh my.

JP: That was weird.

HS: That's a goosebump moment. It's called, “ All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez, the Superstar Whose Life Ended on Murderers’ Row." James Patterson, once again thank you so much.

JP: Thank you. Nice talking to you.


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