Viola Davis, James Patterson to collaborate on novel set in the contemporary, rural South

An upcoming thriller about a female judge in the contemporary, rural South will have two very famous, and very different, authors: Oscar winner Viola Davis and megaselling novelist James Patterson.

Little, Brown and Company announced Tuesday that Davis and Patterson are collaborating on a novel, currently untitled and scheduled for 2025 or 2026, in which the “dynamic and brilliant” Judge Mary Stone faces “a decision with seismic repercussions for her small county, and potentially the whole nation.”

It will be the first work of adult fiction for Davis, whose previous books include the memoir “Finding Me” and the picture story “Corduroy Takes a Bow.” It's the latest high-profile partnership for Patterson, whose previous co-authors range from Bill Clinton to Dolly Parton. The novel “Eruption,” for which Patterson completed a manuscript left behind by the late Michael Crichton, is one of the summer’s most popular books.

“James’s ability to weave compelling narratives with depth and suspense is unparalleled, and I am honored to work alongside him,” Davis said in a statement. “Writing about a character as compelling as Judge Mary Stone has been an extraordinary experience, and I believe readers will be deeply moved by her journey.”

Patterson, who came up with the idea after reading “Finding Me” and contacting Davis, said in a statement that the actor has a “gift for storytelling” and a “generous spirit.”

“I could not have asked for a better partner than Viola,” Patterson said.

Additional details about the book, including film rights, were not immediately available.

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