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Double XX, Marks the Spot

Double Cross by James Patterson, the latest in the Alex Cross series, is a gripping continuation. There are two psychopathic killers on the loose and they are in competition with one another. Alex has yet another love interest, Bree Stone, who just happens to be a detective with the Washington D.C. police department, but Cross is no longer with the FBI or the police department. In fact, he’s become the family man, with his own psychiatric practice and patients.

This is the book I’ve been waiting to read from Patterson. The last two Patterson books I’ve read have left me wanting better writing and more intricate plots. This has most of both. The writing is better, the characters are sympathetic and varied, and the plot is definitely much less contrived than the previous two.

***Spoiler Alert***
Alex Cross has his patients and comes home for dinner with the family on a daily basis, which is something that his kids are certainly not used to. It’s good to see him with the family and the newest love of his life, but you know something will happen to draw him back into the game. First there are a series of killings by a serial murderer interested in having an audience for his crimes, and those audiences get bigger and bigger. Then, Kyle Craig, Alex Cross’ archenemy The Mastermind, escapes from the inescapable prison in Colorado. What is Craig after and how did he escape. I almost wished there was more with this storyline, rather than the DCAK murders, but I’m sure that Craig will resurface in the next installment.

DCAK is a ego-maniac in search of his own infamy…he wants to be larger than life, bigger than Kyle Craig, himself. It’s this desire to be better and then thinking he is better that becomes DCAK’s downfall. I love the meeting of DCAK and Craig. That is the best interlude in the book. The showdown in the alley near the end is suspenseful and nerve-wracking. I couldn’t wait to see the outcome.

***End Spoiler Alert***

Patterson does a better job in this book of maintaining my interest in this book. Overall, this series is the most well-crafted of the ones he has created and is probably why it remains so popular. The suspense in the latter half of the book is phenomenal, and I over-thought the book a bit when I was waiting for Bree Stone to turn on Cross and shoot him and reveal herself as part of the coup. It’s a great addition to the Cross series, and this time around the end gives you an even bigger lead in to the next book that is sure to come in the series.

Warning…for Readers

I finished James Patterson’s You’ve Been Warned in record time while on a mini-vacation with the parents in town. So what did I think of the latest creation from Patterson? It was an odd read. I was confused much of the time while reading it. It’s suspenseful, but annoying at the same time because you are confused much of the time you are reading it, particularly when you are wondering what the main point of the story is and who is chasing the main character, Kristin Burns. This is not an Alex Cross or Women’s Murder Club or Michael Bennett novel of cops and robbers, though the mentality of those cops is carried slightly over into the Burns character who hopes to unravel the mystery. The best part for me with the character of Burns is her love of photography, which I can totally relate to. She just clicks away on her camera, much like I do sometimes…the urge is there to just keep shooting, probably why film got to be too expensive for me and I switched over to digital–though there are some things I prefer about film photography.

She seeks the identity of the man who continues to warn her throughout the novel and continues to avoid the cop following her, but does she do it successfully? You’ll have to read the book to find out. I will tell you this about the new book. It was a great twist at the end; one I had an inkling about; but it was still a great end. You’ll also have to read to figure out if this novel is one of the better experiments run by Patterson over the years.

He’s tried romantic novels with Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas and Sam’s Letters to Jennifer–one faring much better than the other. I really loved Suzanne’s Diary, but really hated Sam’s Letters. Then he attempted a historical novel, The Jester, which I really enjoyed as well. I think some of his bread and butter series, like Alex Cross and Women’s Murder Club, have fallen a little flat as of late, but the recent You’ve been Warned novel indicates there is a muse at work behind Patterson’s writing still, he just needs to pay closer attention when writing the series his readers’ love.

Don’t Break Momma’s Back

Step on a Crack by James Patterson was a quick read and the lead character Michael Bennett is a breath of fresh air–a NYPD detective who actually isn’t the job. Alex Cross is the reason I began reading James Patterson books in the first place, and the Women’s Murder Club series kept me interested in his books with their camaraderie. Those characters forsake their families, lovers, and friends for the sake of catching the bad guy and making the big arrest, but Mike Bennett is different. His wife is his center and the kids are hers, but the job still takes precedence most of the time. When it counts and when he is needed at home, he’s there for the kids. Don’t get me wrong, you know the main point of the books is the suspense and the unraveling of the crime at hand, but the emotions of the characters need to develop beyond surface dedication to the family and the job.

Mike Bennett is a well developed character who made me hope along with him that his wife would not die, and strive to solve the successful kidnapping, though he was distracted. He held fast against the anguish in his heart to pump up the spirits of his brood and still remain dedicated to tracking down the hijackers. There were several points near the end of the book where my emotions nearly burst forth through my eyes as the unthinkable happened.

***spoiler ALERT**

He held his dying wife in his arms at the end of her life just after failing to take down the hijackers and discover their true identities. Her life slipped away quietly in the hospital room.

This was the one and only time I have seen Patterson take a leap and kill off a character he incited readers to believe would make it in the spirit of Christmas and rebirth. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed, but I think the loss may strengthen the drive of Mike Bennett should Patterson choose to create yet another detective series.

***End Spoiler***

While of late I have had a hard time keeping interested in James Patterson books because he puts so many of them out per year, with dare I say not so captivating prose in many cases, Step on a Crack held my attention and made me wonder what will happen next for the main character and his Irish brood.