Hope To Die by James Patterson




Is there an editor in the house?…   *

So how many books does an author get to write before editors ignore their work and just put it out there?  Obviously, James Patterson hit that number a long time ago.

I have read all of the Alex Cross books.  I used to read the Women’s Murder Club books until they became writing by formula. I refuse to read the books co-authored by him after the first one, they are terrible.  Now I ask myself, am I going to give up on Alex Cross?

Hope to Die is the continuation of Cross My Heart, which was atrocious.  There are so many holes in this story that it should have been called, No Hope, Dead.  Besides the flaws in police procedure, the under-played reaction of Cross to his situation and the total predictability of the story, there are too many facts that are just wrong.  An example, Patterson describes Cross as “six feet two inches with a thirty inch reach”.  I am only five feet eleven inches and I have a thirty five inch reach without stepping up on my toes.

So as not to reveal anything that might spoil the book for anyone who has not read it, I am going to stick to the flaws in the editing that make this a terrible read.

Patterson begins one chapter by describing “three birches that grew close together”.  Hello, that is how birches are, planted three together, which everyone already knows.  In that same chapter he says, “the dog went to the stove and lay down by the stove”.  I didn’t think he went to the stove and lay down by the TV!  In one chapter he tells us the alias used by the antagonist has shown up seven times in a internet search, a few chapters later he tells us this again.

The worst part of bad writing/non-editing is the chapter dealing with Alex Cross having to kill someone at the direction of Marcus Sunday (the antagonist).  This chapter is written in first person so we are in Alex’s head.  Okay so maybe I need to say spoiler alert here.  We know and Alex knows that his killing is an act, but the thoughts in his head are portrayed as if they are.  NO!  Alex would not be having the emotions and physical response Patterson gives us knowing he is faking a killing.

The icing on the cake, however, is the character Ava.  In Alex Cross Run she is African American.  “It was a young woman, African American.  Ava’s height and build.”   In this book she is white.  “I guess it wasn’t often they saw  a big African American male in his forties traveling with a seventeen-year-old white girl…”

If all of this were not bad enough, the ending is lame.  For two books we have had a methodical, diabolical killer who is meticulous in his planning.  He would not have put himself in the situation that he does to end this story.

James Patterson is a prolific writer and he used to be a good one.  It is sad to see that all change.

This one gets one star.

Alex Cross’s Trial


Cliche City   *


First, as others have said, I felt duped by the fact that this book is advertised as an Alex Cross novel.

But beyond that this is a poorly written account of the south and the atrocities whites put on blacks. Using every cliche imaginable, from a mammie in a red handkerchief chasing chickens to the folksy discussion by Mark Twain, this is lazy writing at its best. The “almost hanging” of the main character pushes the envelope of believability.

There are no surprises here and the plot is completely predictable. James Patterson owes an apology to his fans.

Cross Fire (Alex Cross)


Almost A Good Book    **


Having read all of the Alex Cross novels it is always with anticipation when I pick up the newest. This book starts out as well as any of Patterson’s prior stories. While taking characters directly from the headlines makes part of the story line more believable, I have to agree with some of the other reviewers that the mathematician as killer was hard to swallow.

My problem with the book is the ending. Up until the final encounter with the main antagonist, Kyle Crane, the reader is told how precise, cautious, and masterful this criminal is and has been. The final showdown does not match what until then has been a very cunning and calculating plot to kill Alex Cross. This is not a spoiler, we all know Alex survives.

Patterson, like Child, Connelly, and Crais, has become lazy in writing a book that fails to keep the reader completely satisfied.

Cross My Heart (Alex Cross)


The Unforgivable Sin, Almost…    *

Anyone who knows anything about writing knows the lesson of never tricking the reader. For example, having a story that ends with the main character waking from a dream that the reader had been tricked into believing was a true event. James Patterson tricks the reader into thinking this is a novel with an ending, when in reality it is only half the story. We do know there will be a second novel finishing this story but did not know that until reading the last page. (interesting that in the hardback version the reader is further tricked by pages left at the end thinking there is more to read when it is only an apology from the author and an excerpt from another novel)
When I was a kid ( and here I am dating myself) we used to go to Saturday morning matinees and see serials like Flash Gordon or Rocket Man. These always ended as cliff hangers to be continued, but we knew that going in. Unless one reads one of these reviews, there is no warning this novel is a set up for a continuation. Patterson has committed the unpardonable sin of not only tricking his readership but in my opinion, stealing from them.
Sadly, most of us will buy the next Alex Cross when in fact we should be returning our copies of “Cross My Heart”, demanding our money back.