Cross Justice by James Patterson (Alex Cross #23)

Synopsis: When his cousin stands accused of a terrible murder, Alex Cross returns to his North Carolina hometown for the first time in thirty years.

As he strives to prove his cousin’s innocence amid small-town corruption and prejudice, Cross unearths a family secret that makes him question everything he thought he knew. 

Chasing the ghosts of the past, Cross is pulled into a case baffling local police: a grisly string of murders, all of socialites. Hot on the trail of a brutal killer as well as his own past, Cross knows the answers he finds might be fatal…

My Rating: 4/5 Continue reading

Hope To Die by James Patterson (Alex Cross #22)

Synopsis: Detective Alex Cross has lost everything and everyone he’s ever cared about.

His enemy, Thierry Mulch, is holding his family. Driven by feelings of hatred and revenge, Mulch is threatening to kill them all, and break Cross for ever.

But Alex Cross is fighting back.

In a race against time, he must defeat Mulch, and find his wife and children – no matter what it takes.

Kat’s Rating: 4/5

Kat’s Review: It’s been nearly 10 months since I last read a Patterson Book, and 22 months since I last read an Alex Cross novel. Lately I have been a bit despondent with them although to be fair the last Alex Cross novel I read was a pretty good read. With that in mind I decided to fall back into Alex life, which with a Patterson novel is usually pretty effortless. Thankfully James Patterson demonstrates just how easy he finds it as I was plunged straight back into Alex Cross world and the one thing guaranteed to break the man, the loss of his family.

This latest release is book 22 in this series, which in itself is something of an achievement. Alex Cross has become a legendary fictional character and some of his early books from this series are still in my opinion some of the best I have ever read. However the series, along with many other JP books appear to be on shaky ground with fans across the world. I can include myself in that group as sometimes there is such a thing as ‘too much of a good thing’. Thankfully the last book ‘Cross My Heart’ was a vast improvement even though I wasn’t impressed with the ending. When you reached the end it makes it impossible for you to not buy this latest release as there are no conclusions until now. That kind of irritates but enough whining, on with the review of this latest.

With Alex Cross now in a perilous situation, we see him at possibly his most vulnerable. His arch enemy and frankly ruthless killer Thierry Mulch has taken those dearest to Cross, his family and Alex has now become the victim. This makes for an astonishing and very fraught opening with the book and one that has you reading incredibly quickly. Alex becomes a character that we not only know and love, but one that we now see stripped bare.

The book is based on the cat and mouse game between Alex and Thierry and has all the elements for a perfect Patterson/Cross novel. Short, sharp and punchy chapters interspersed with danger and threats from every corner. I have to be honest and say I was pretty gripped with the storyline from start to finish. I felt like this was Patterson going back to his roots and shows all of this authors talents at it’s finest. There were a few minor gripes (hence the 4 and not 5 stars) but overall I felt like James Patterson was finally back to his true style of writing. I found myself eager to get book 23 ‘Cross Justice’ but at nearly a tenner, I think I’ll wait!

Cross My Heart by James Patterson (Alex Cross #21)

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Alex Cross’s whole world is crashing down around him.

He has been hunted, stalked like prey, his predator priming himself for the kill.

Cross has devoted his life to protecting others. Now he’s unable to protect even those closest to him.

As a police detective, he has made many enemies, but never like this.

Everything he loves is being taken from him.

Soon he will have nothing and no one left.

My Review: I am guessing that if you are reading this review you know about James Patterson and his infamous Alex Cross series of books (who doesn’t?). I will be honest and say that I am extremely critical when it comes to JP, and for good reason. In one respect he is the King of this genre and has been in this game for many years, however it seems like in recent years, myself along with a growing number of fans are getting tired of the book churning going on. According to Forbes his earnings were $91 million as of 2013, so it seems his success is certainly paying off. However, to earn that sort of money and be so successful over so many years he HAS to have the talent, surely? Well, if this book is anything to go by we see glimpses of why he has got to where he has. However, I think MANY fans feel like they have been ripped off as the book itself ends on a major cliff-hanger meaning you HAVE to buy the follow on to find out what becomes of one of the most well known fictional characters in recent times.

The flip side of that is that although it ends on a major cliff-hanger, the story itself was a LOT better than many recent additions to the Cross series. It almost felt like Patterson was trying to give the series a boost by switching the table on Cross and instead of him being the hunter, he has become the hunted. As usual the short sharp chapters were in abundance and there seems to be two main plot threads running through this book. I found myself enjoying the story and actually liking the fact that for the first time in a while we are reading something new with Cross being on the receiving end. We also see the usual suspects alongside Cross such as his partner John, wife Bee and the rest of his family.

The last part of the book was better than the first half but when I realised where Patterson was heading with the ending I had mixed feelings. When I say he ended it on a cliff-hanger I mean it! There is no glimpse into whether Alex has any light at the end of the tunnel. However, from past experience, and feeling cheated with some of his ‘co-written’ books I made a decision a while ago to not rush out and buy these books pre-publication. Now I sit back and wait until the price comes down or the mood takes me. I think many people (myself included) would actually prefer James Patterson to announce that he is planning on only publishing one or two books a year. People would be pre-ordering until the cows came home. Myself, I would rather wait a whole year for one amazing book, than buy and read 4 or 5 that are mediocre. Thankfully this latest Cross was a vast improvement, but get the impression a lot of people are unhappy at the ending. I thought the series felt a little bit refreshed and the writing was certainly leaning more towards his original style. However, there is still a long way to go before we see the return of the old style writing Patterson used to do. I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that the next book shows me just that!

Merry Christmas Alex Cross by James Patterson (Alex Cross #19)

My Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: On the night before Christmas, Detective Alex Cross is at home celebrating with his family. But when Alex’s phone rings, he knows that this won’t be a merry Christmas.

A father has taken his children and ex-wife hostage. Armed to the teeth and high on crystal meth, Henry Fowler is dangerously unstable. The lives of everyone in that house are hanging by a thread.

As this suburban nightmare is unfolding, another far greater threat is approaching. It will be a terrorist attack like Washington DC has never seen, and when nobody expects it.

My Review: When I read the synopsis, I immediately thought “is that it?”. The synopsis just seemed a bit ‘bleugh’ if you know what I mean. Sadly this latest Cross novel left me feeling exactly the same way. As ever with any JP book, the chapters are short and sharp meaning it’s incredibly easy to read. Sadly a few chapters in, and I just had that dreaded feeling of “I’ve been here before with this character”.

The Henry Fowler character takes his children and ex-wife hostage and as usual Alex Cross is called in, but it happens to be Christmas morning. The story started to pick up pace and I thought we may well have been in for a treat, but I was to be disappointed as that part of the story finished rather abruptly. The reader is then briskly rushed onto the next part of the story involving a terrorist plot. I don’t recall how far into the book this happened but it all just felt a bit disjointed.

The second plot of the book involving the terrorist plot certainly had all the right elements. However, it just seemed to lack any real feeling. I have been reading James Patterson for years and I took the time to pull my older reviews up today. It seems like my opinion of mediocrity has been recurring for a few years now and it seems like I am not learning my lesson. It feels like a huge number of us Patterson readers keep reading through both loyalty, and the hope that he will once again create brilliance like his early days.

Overall, it’s a book that would keep you entertained for a few hours, but that’s it. It shows how my interest is waning when I wait nearly a year from publication to read a Cross book. No doubt I will swiftly move onto the next book (book 20 in the series entitled Alex Cross Run). Overall, not a terrible read, just not like some of his earlier books.

KILL ALEX CROSS BY JAMES PATTERSON (ALEX CROSS #18)

My Rating: 3/5

Mmmmm, let me think on it for a minute. I feel very torn trying to write a review on this book and if I am being honest I really wanted to like it. Like many readers, when you have read a series as long as this you want things to be great all the time, but inevitably there will come a point when maybe things just don’t sit right any more. I think that maybe I am leaning towards that opinion more than anything right now. Cross Country I absolutely loathed, I, Alex Cross was better but certainly not his best. With this one, I just feel it was mediocre.

The story itself had all the right ingredients, the kidnapping of the two most famous children in America and a terrorist attack on D.C. But somehow it just seemed too much like we had been there before and Alex Cross is maybe going over old ground. The writing style still has the magic Patterson touch with the short sharp chapters that keep the pages turning. That certainly wasn’t lacking, I just felt that there was a major `something’ missing and I cannot for the life of me place exactly what it is.

The character himself was lacking the magic sparkle this time around and I didn’t particularly think he was written in the same manner either. Alex Cross has always been a man who works hard, but this time round his family were a very poor second to his work and that made me think badly of him.

I know it sounds ridiculous to some, but when you have read 18 books over as many years, as a reader you feel you know the character. I certainly finished this book feeling like I didn’t know Alex Cross at all. The terrorist element of storylines in general is wearing a little thin with me as there seems to be so much of it around. I also felt that this part of the story, although very realistic, was a little rushed, and almost like an afterthought to bump the original storyline up a notch.

I am left feeling like I don’t know what just happened. Has Alex Cross finally run out of cases to solve, or has Mr Patterson bitten off more than he can chew with the amount of books he writes and co-writes? In my opinion it has to be one of the two, I just can’t make my mind up which one it is!

CROSS FIRE BY JAMES PATTERSON (ALEX CROSS #17)

My Rating: 3/5

I feel a terrible burden when I pick up a James Patterson book these days. The man is a legend who has produced some fantastic work that has earned him the right to be called one of the bestselling authors of all time. A staggering figure is that in 2007 one in every fifteen hardback books sold was a James Patterson. I myself seem to have a love-hate relationship with his work.

Lately I haven’t been over enthused with any of his offerings and his best book in the last few months has been without a doubt `Worst case’ which is another popular series of books featuring Michael Bennett. It seems that all of his co-written books have been a pile of rubbish and it makes me wonder just how bad his books can get. I was however looking forward to his new release Cross Fire, his 17th in the Cross Series of books. When the book arrived my first thought was that this book would be the one that cemented my loyalty to JP and why I always pre-order his books no matter how disappointed I was with the last one.

In this latest instalment we again get drawn straight in at chapter one. JP’s infamous style of his short sharp chapters is there in abundance, which I confess I love. Alex is written exceptionally and as soon as you pick the book up you feel like you are getting reacquainted with an old friend. Nana is also still around as are the kids and you felt like you are once again part of the Cross’ hectic family life.

The story itself is the major let down for me. James Patterson in the past has come up with storylines that have had me staying up overnight to finish a book or being so engrossed that I miss my train stop. This book is certainly not up to what I would call his best standards. I thought the plot jumped and many of the chapters felt almost unfinished.

We see the re-appearance of an old adversary in the form of Kyle Craig. I was looking forward to this element of the story as you feel like you have seen Alex’ life up close and personal in all of his books. For me the first half of the book featuring Kyle Craig was okay but the second half was abysmal. It felt rushed and unfinished and had an element of laziness to it.

Overall the book was very average and again I finished it feeling that dreaded sense of disappointment returning. I don’t know why his books just don’t seem to hit the mark anymore and I find myself wondering if Alex Cross is running out of steam. In comparison his Michael Bennett novels are picking up pace and fast becoming favourites of mine. All in all, if you are expecting another corker in the Alex Cross series you may be disappointed.

I, ALEX CROSS BY JAMES PATTERSON (ALEX CROSS #16)

My Review: 4/5

Alex Cross is a character that has been one of James Patterson’s longer running themes. He returns in this blockbuster along with a few familiar faces.

They are celebrating Alex’ birthday in the opening chapter, but as usual are interrupted with the phone call they always dread…Work! Alex and his long-time girlfriend Detective Briana Stone along with his kids Ali and Jannie (who live at home), and the ever faithful Nana are welcomed back. Nana and his children have been the one consistence in his life that has brought him stability, support and love, however his love for his job sometimes gets him putting his priorities the wrong way round. The call he receives becomes personal as Alex finds out that a killer has got to one of his own. His niece has been murdered and they want him in on the case. He throws himself into the case head first and discovers that this serial killer won’t be so easy to catch. This is no ordinary serial killer and Alex soon discovers that the whole case is wrapped up with some high rollers who are protected by those around them. That means breaking the rules and doing what needs to be done to catch the killer. Alex realises that to do his job he has to trust nobody and do things his own way.

I have on a few occasions’ mentioned that I was unsure what James Patterson was doing to quality of his own work, due to the sheer volume of novels he seems to produce or complete with a co-author. My opinion has been in the past that his novels (especially the Cross ones) seem to decline the more books he produces. This book showed me glimpses of some of the great work that he has produced in the past, however still left me undecided as to whether his work is back to its usual quality. His chapters are short and sharp but keep the pages turning. The story was a good one and flowed throughout, with the added bonus of ending the book on a great opening for the next one.

I did enjoy this and think it is better than his last Alex Cross Novel (Cross Country). However, although still an avid James Patterson fan I find that I am leaning towards his other follow on books with the lead character of Michael Bennett (e.g. Run for your life). I will continue to read James Patterson’s work and can only hope that the Alex Cross books continue to catch the audience. This book can be read as a standalone but I would advise that if you enjoy this, that you try some of his other earlier books.