Friday, January 31, 2014

Book Review - Alex Cross, Run

Alex Cross, Run – James Patterson
 
 
They say every author has a dip in form. Stephen King apparently had it just after his car accident (although I cannot testify to that), Patricia Cornwell is said to have had a major dip and hasn’t recovered from it (again I can’t really comment on it). What I tend to find is that a lot of the time, these apparent “dips” occur part of the problem is the reader finding an author they like and then only reading that author until they become bored of his or hers style and no longer excited about them.
 
With me that was very much the case with James Patterson’s “Alex Cross series.” I loved Cross but around the 9th or 10th entry in the series, I really noticed a drop in quality. I decided to take a break from Patterson’s book and broaden my horizons. It worked wonders. Although I bought this book the day it came out, I have sat on it a year, until I was ready to embrace it.
 
The blurb:
 
Detective Alex Cross arrests renowned plastic surgeon Elijah Creem for sleeping with teenage girls. Now, his life ruined, Creem is out of jail, and he's made sure that no one will recognize him--by giving himself a new face.

A young woman is found hanging from a sixth-floor window, and Alex is called to the scene. The victim recently gave birth, but the baby is nowhere to be found. Before Alex can begin searching for the missing newborn and killer, he's called to investigate a second crime. All of Washington, D.C., is in a panic, and when a third body is discovered, rumours of three serial killers send the city into an all-out frenzy.

Alex's investigations are going nowhere, and he's too focused on the cases to notice that someone has been watching him--and will stop at nothing until he's dead. With white-hot speed, relentless drama, and hairpin turns, FREE ALEX CROSS is James Patterson's ultimate thrill ride.
 
The 19th entry into the series is one of the best. James Patterson has got the series back to its riveting self. In the past I have lamented that the villains became way to over the top and cartoonish, whilst Cross became too untouchable and his family life too sickly to read.
 
The last few entries have restored the balance of all of the above issues and made the series interesting again.
 
In this novel, Alex has to contend with not one but three serial killer cases. As a premise this had me groaning as I assumed the novel would rely on just raising the stakes in the cheapest way possible.
It doesn’t. The serial killers from part of the story but they are not its main focus. The nucleus of the plot involves a reporter that targets Alex Cross personally and sets out to besmirch his good reputation. Ironically, after all the psychopaths “the Dragonslayer” has faced, it is this man that is able to get under Alex’s skin the most.
 
It makes for great reading. We see Alex struggle to handle the situation with no contact in the bureau to help him out. Alex for the first time in a long while is not just put in danger, but is fallible. He doesn’t have all the answers and makes the wrong choices.
 
I mentioned in my review of the last book how it was great to have Ava on board as a character. Ava acted as the perfect foil to the idyllic Cross family set up and here this continues. Alex struggles to connect with the girl despite his best attempts and there is no quick win in sight for the situation which is nice to see.
 
It is also nice to see Sampson, Alex’s former partner and close friend have a larger role in the book. Sampson has been greatly missed in this series as he has been relegated to more of a background role.
The plot in short is excellent. With the focus more on the characters rather than the waiver thin villains, the book benefits greatly. However, the killers in “Run, Alex Cross” are an improvement of the killers of the past. It is also nice to see the pressure that the NYPD come under from the public office. These are all good little touches which help make the novel more rounded and substantial.
 
Overall, this is Patterson back near his best. His style has moved on from, “Along came the spider” and “Kiss the girls,” and once you accept James Patterson has evolved, you begin to really appreciate his return to form.
 
My rating: 9.0