If you're a James Patterson fan it might help to be a speed reader, since this prolific suspense author turns out books at an incredible pace. Since his career began 30 years ago, Patterson has written more than 30 novels. In the last two years alone, he has published 10 new books, including his current bestseller, Mary, Mary, and his first two books for children, santaKid and Maximum Ride.

His latest is 5th Horseman, a new entry in the Women's Murder Club series arriving in bookstores just in time for Valentine's Day.

It's a doozy, if I do say so myself, Patterson tells readers on his website. Four San Francisco women friends a lawyer, a reporter, a police detective and a medical examiner are on the trail of yet another killer, this time one who's knocking off patients at the San Francisco Medical Center. The Women's Murder Club series began with 1st to Die in 2001 and continued with 2nd Chance, 3rd Degreeand 4th of July, all bestsellers.

How does Patterson keep up this frenetic publishing pace? One answer can be found on the cover of 5th Horseman, where New York author Maxine Paetro is credited as Patterson's co-writer. Paetro's name first showed up on the cover of 4th of July, and she had been mentioned in the acknowledgments of several previous books. Though it's a touchy subject, Patterson has been using collaborators for years, including Howard Roughan, Peter de Jonge and Andrew Gross, who was the credited co-writer on the two previous Murder Club books as well as the 2005 beach novel, Lifeguard.

Serving as co-writer for a brand-name author like Patterson can be a smart career move, as Gross discovered late last year when he landed what is believed to be a multimillion dollar deal to write three books for William Morrow. Whether he can achieve the incredible success and longevity of his mentor, only time will tell.

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