Guest Editor, Kristy McCormick
As a long time James Patterson fan, I had been a little disappointed with a couple of his last books. And after reading Cross Country a while ago I was a bit reluctant to read much more about Alex Cross. But this was a nice surprise â€“ the latest installment in the story of Alex Cross is right back to classic Patterson. Alex Cross is back to being a believable character (not jetting around searching for African warlords like he did in Cross Country!), the murder mystery is straightforward, the writing concise and the chapters short and sharp like all good Patterson thrillers.
In this book, the story starts with Cross celebrating his birthday at a small family party. The party is cut short with a phone call â€“ Cross is informed that his estranged niece has been savagely murdered. In typical Cross fashion he is straight on the case â€“ forget birthdays, this is business, and it involves one of his own.
With a little detective work Cross soon discovers that his niece moved in some exclusive circles, and that the people in these circles don\’t always play nice. As the story progresses Cross and Bree (his girlfriend who is also a detective) learn that his niece is not the only victim. There are others missing and potential victims tied up in a seedy business that extends to the lofty heights of Washington society. As it becomes apparent that the case is in some way connected to the White House, Cross needs to tread carefully, although manages to stay abreast of all that is going on in the investigation.
The mystery progresses nicely, at a fairly rapid pace that is typical for James Patterson\’s books. Some chapters are only three pages long â€“ which is great if you want to read â€˜just one more\’ before you go to sleep! The trouble is, I\’m betting you can\’t stop at just one more! This is one of those books that you could easily read in one sitting.
The only downside to this book is the letdown when they finally track down the killer â€“ the author lets you figure out who it is (and it is shocking, without a doubt) and then he is caught with a minimum of fuss, no big manhunt or shootout involved at all! Well, there is a slight twist which I can\’t give away, but I felt somewhat cheated as the killer who they had relentlessly pursued throughout just kind of faded into insignificance.
Of course there is always a side story with Alex Cross and in this one he faces some tough times as his beloved Nana Mama falls critically ill. She has been his rock throughout the whole series and this book feels as though it has given Cross a wake up call â€“ that the woman he sees as his mother is not invincible (after all she is over 90 years old). In this book the scenes involving Cross and his family do take quite a bit of page space, but it is nice to see him as a family man and a nice story of family and strong relationships alongside the often gory world of murder does balance the book out.
On that note, it is worth pointing out that James Patterson has returned to a good old murder mystery here and that there is plenty of blood, bad language, sex and violence in this book. It is a good stand alone thriller, even if you are not familiar with the Alex Cross series, as enough brief history is relayed throughout.
But if you are a James Patterson and Alex Cross fan then I would recommend this to you as a return to the thriller that we know and expect from this author. And if you are familiar with the Alex Cross series then let me warn you now â€“ the last chapter will leave you wanting, waiting for the next one!
Available now: Random House RRP$32.99