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.
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.
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.