Our Review

In the craziness that is James Patterson’s massive collection of collaborative efforts, it is hard to find something that truly has the ‘Patterson flavor’ any longer. While he has shuffled many of his series and one-off novels to others, the Alex Cross novels remain solely his, allowing fans to see where he has taken his longest-serving protagonist over two decades. In this novel, Alex Cross and the rest of the country are stunned by the death of the President of the United States, an event that resonates, no matter one’s political leanings. As the country seeks to brush itself off, Washington is stunned by a new set of murders, including one of a sitting US senator.

Alex is pulled in to work the case by the FBI, which forces him to keep his wife, Chief of Detectives Bree Stone, away from the action. As they work, the case seems somewhat open and shut, with a suspect all but pointing to where they committed the crime. Then, things take a definite turn. Multiple murders of several high-ranking officials lead Cross and the FBI to feel that there might be an international threat to the United States. It’s no longer a criminal they seek, but a country ready to do whatever it takes to weaken America. With nuclear weapons on hand, this could quickly escalate into a war from which no one will walk away unscathed. Patterson does well to amp up the action as Alex Cross continues to entertain, in his twenty-sixth novel. Recommended to series fans and those who want to ride the wave of international meddling in American affairs.

It is becoming harder for me to find myself hooked on James Patterson series of late. While I have come to really enjoy some of his long-running collections, they begin to get a little stale or outlive their run. Alex Cross has always been a stalwart for me, something on which I can rely. While the characters age, Alex never lets that dilute his work on crimes or his passion for family. Still, one must begin to wonder if there is a time and place to let him hang up the cuffs and enjoy those around him. I began to feel that way about this book, as things have become somewhat stagnant. The crime is surely out of this world—well, country—but I was left wondering if things simply have run out for Alex Cross and if he needs to let someone else take over.

Cross is a remarkable man and his character is second to none, though I think it is not him that is so bothersome, but some of the corny interactions he has with patients and his own family that has me soured. Great kids, lovely wife, and a funny grandmother, but it’s just a little too hokey in the dialogue. I’d never want Patterson to wipe them out, for that his the Cross foundation and all that keeps him sane. Still, they tend to grate on my nerves, which spills over to creating an animosity for me as I read. The premise of the story is great and could really have worked well. I think it needed some more grit, something deeper and more intense.

There are some wonderful political and criminal elements in the story that I would love to see in a series (or one-off) that can dedicate time to this sort of political thriller, but Patterson’s use of short chapters and hokey family sub-plots were not for me. An easy read and I will always keep Patterson around for that, but could it be that Alex Cross novels are falling victim to James Patterson Syndrome? Might they be selling for the name on the cover and not the quality of the writing? We can at least applaud him for a wonderful cliffhanger ending!