Friday, March 19, 2021

Book Review - Target: Alex Cross (RD)

 Target - Alex Cross by James Patterson

Of all the many, many authors I read there's one author I always return to for a nice, quick easy read that brings me comfort. That author is of course, James Patterson. Over the years James Patterson has assembled a stable of authors and has steadily increased the number of books he releases year upon year. He is currently averaging over a book a month. I know many casual readers that read his books exclusively. I am not one of these people obviously as I tend to find the quality of the books he co-authors with others are a bit of a mixed bag. I tend therefore, just a stick to his Alex Cross series which James writes exclusively by himself.

Target: Alex Cross is the 26th novel in a series which has mostly been excellent. The books are very different from when they began with Alex cross as a detective hunting down the likes of Gary Soneji with his partner John Sampson. These changes have been organic but not always for the better.

At one point I thought James Patterson had written himself into a corner as Alex Cross solved more and more cases as a detective and got promotion after promotion. Consequently he was given more high-profile cases until he was dealing with terrorists and presidents. Thankfully, James Patterson readdressed this balance and the last few novels have concentrated on more intimate cases and have been all the better for it.

In this novel however he does indeed deal with an incident involving the President, here is the blurb.


Alex Cross and his family join men and women from across the nation lining the streets of Washington, DC to mourn the unexpected death of the President.


With the country still in shock, the assassination of a prominent Senator strikes another devastating blow to the heart of the nation's capital. As Chief of Detectives, Alex's wife Bree Stone faces an ultimatum: solve the case, or lose her job.


The new President calls on Cross to lead an unparalleled FBI investigation to help capture America's most wanted criminal. But what follows will plunge the country into chaos, and draw Cross into the most important case of his life.

The Review:

I mentioned I wasn’t a fan of the books where they got too high profile because I always thought they were a little outlandish. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Alex Cross’s children have all grown up and have lives of their own. I find this fascinating because as a loyal reader I have seen them grow up and personally have grown up with them.

The plot focuses on a series of assassinations to high ranking political figures including an attempted assassination of the President of the United States. Alex is drafted in to be a consultant on finding who is responsible for such heinous crimes, whilst his wife Bree is under extreme pressure from her boss as to why she has not done more in solving the murders. Running alongside this is a subplot where Alex has a patient in his role as a psychologist in dealing with a woman who cannot experience love.

The three plot threads are fascinating. Whilst Alex uses his experience and genius to help solve clues, he is far more fallible than normal, he misses things because he tries to juggle too much and he makes mistakes because he's tired and cares too much, basically he is human and that is great to see.

Unfortunately, the plot thread that I found the most interesting i.e. the one involving the patient is the one that is unexplored the most. Going forward, I would like to see Alex involved in a story where one of his patients is a criminal mastermind trying to outwit Alex Cross. I always think that he is at his best when he's up against the workings of a genius.

Bree struggles in her role and it is struggle mainly because she is living in the shadow of her husband and his reputation. This is a fascinating element to their relationship and one I would like to see explored further. Unfortunately, being James Patterson, the resolution is a little trite. There is no resentment on Bree’s part as she struggles to compete with Alex’s legend which is a shame. It would be good to see the strain it puts on their marriage and how much the case affected their relationship.

As usual we are always treated to the minds of the killer in short chapters. Some people love this element to the books whilst other people think that it makes the killers a little too cartoonish. I fall somewhere in between the two. I think sometimes we are shown the killer doing malicious and malevolent things purely to ramp up the tension but after a while I don't think they serve much purpose and it doesn't really add to the growth of the villain or make for an interesting arc. At the same time I see why such chapters are necessary.

At 26 books in, I am more interested in the family life dramas. I liked reading about his eldest new girlfriend or how Jannie is doing in her track career. Little Alex is also progressing from an annoying kid to adding more to the story and then of course there is the evergreen Nana Mama who is the backbone to the Cross family life.

It is difficult to say to much about the antagonists in the story without giving any of the plot away but I found the whole scenario fascinating; especially the repercussions of the crimes. The ending of the novel was also unexpected and refreshing.

Overall, after such a long time out, I loved delving into the Alex Cross series again. It is always the perfect tonic when you finish reading an epic and fancy a quick read.

My rating: 8.3

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