Criss Cross (Alex Cross #27), by James Patterson

Eight stars

James Patterson returns with one of his foundations series, exploring the further adventures of Alex Cross in this intense crime thriller. As the novel opens, Dr. Alex Cross is on his way to the execution of a man he helped put away for some gruesome murders. While the man’s family professes this is a frame-up, Cross is sure the evidence tells a different story. After watching the electrocution, Cross and his partner are called to the scene of a crime, one that makes he wonder if he might have made a major mistake. A crime scene awaits him, similar to those the aforementioned killer appeared to have left, along with a mocking note signed “M”. Cross scrambles to understand what’s going on and how this will reflect on him. As Cross thinks back to the case from years ago, he is forced to wonder if he got wrapped up in a quick solve, rather than weighing all the evidence. As he tries to crack open the ‘M’ case, Cross is faced with a few more copycat killings from other notorious killers he’s put away. Nothing is more disturbing than a few sightings of his greatest nemesis, Kyle Craig, who apparently died right before Cross’ eyes a few years before. As Cross seeks to uncover the great ‘M’, he is taunted repeatedly and is surely being watched from afar. When terror strikes within the Cross household, ‘M’ claims responsibility, but will stop at nothing until Alex Cross is permanently neutralized. An interesting addition to the series, which has gone on for quite a while. One must wonder if Cross might want to hang up his cuffs and enjoy a quieter life. Recommended to those who enjoy Alex Cross and his various adventures, as well as those who find solace in James Patterson’s work.

I admit that I have long been a critic of Patterson’s work, as I find it is usually rushed and slapped together in haste, selling so well because of a name and not the quality of the story. The Alex Cross series has usually been quite well written and the stories remain believable throughout the many novels that are pieces of this collection. There is little room for backstory with Alex Cross, but Patterson os keen to show how he is always on the ball to catch a killer in new and interesting ways. Cross is a family man to the core, balancing work, marriage, and his children as best he can. Patterson offers up some added information about the youngest Cross, Ali, which likely parallels his decision to create a young adult collection featuring Ali going forward. The reader gets a little more about the middle child, daughter Jannie, who is set to make some major academic decisions, fully supported by her father. Other characters find their spots in the narrative and keep the reader on their toes, while never distracting from the larger plot. The use of ‘M’ as a copycat-cum-new villain will have interesting impacts, should the series continue for the foreseeable future. The story was well written and in line with much of the past novels in the series, with Patterson using his quick chapters to lure the reader to “read a little more”. While not the best of the collection, it will keep me reading this series. On that note, one must wonder if Cross is ending his run soon, as he has reached a large number of adventures. If so, perhaps he, Michael Bennett, and Lindsay Boxer could work together, even once? It has been my long-time plea.

Kudos, Mr. Patterson, for another good read. I hope series fans are satisfied and that you will focus your attention on these stronger series and keep the vapid writing for others to pen.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: