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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Review: Kill Alex Cross

Title: Kill Alex Cross
Author: James Patterson
Series: Alex Cross (#18)
 Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 
 November, 14, 2011
Reviewer: Ethan

Summary: The President's son and daughter are abducted, and Detective Alex Cross is one of the first on the scene. But someone very high-up is using the FBI, Secret Service, and CIA to keep him off the case and in the dark.

A deadly contagion in the water supply cripples half of the capital, and Alex discovers that someone may be about to unleash the most devastating attack the United States has ever experienced.

As his window for solving both crimes narrows, Alex makes a desperate decision that goes against everything he believes--one that may alter the fate of the entire country. KILL ALEX CROSS is faster, more exciting, and more tightly wound than any Alex Cross thriller James Patterson has ever written!
Review: James Patterson seems to be one of the most polarizing authors working today. While he is the best selling author of all time, most of his novels are met with lukewarm responses. It has been argued that because of his prolific output, the quality of the novels suffers. I agree that many of the standalone novels that Patterson writes, often with a co-author, are not very good, but he has always seemed to take a certain pride in his Alex Cross series. Because I have read all of the other novels in this series, there was no way I would miss the latest. 

The novel begins with the kidnapping of the U.S. President's children. The junior high school where they were last seen is locked down, and Alex Cross, who just happens to be in the area, stops by to lend a hand. Alex has had experience with high profile kidnappings in the past (read Along Came a Spider) and after the first lady personally contacts him to get her kids back, Alex is officially put on the case. 

At the same time, a Saudi Arabian terror cell is infiltrating the country. Nicknamed "The Family", the cell sends out teams of married couples to come into the country and wreak havoc. When they release a deadly poison into the Washington D.C. water supply, Alex also becomes burdened with facing a national security crisis. Even more, he believes this terrorist organization could be responsible for the kidnapping of the President's kids. 

I have mixed feelings about this latest Alex Cross novel. Despite the title, I never really felt that Alex was in any danger of losing his life. Both the kidnapping and terrorist stories run separate from each other for most of the novel, making the book feel extremely disjointed. The redeeming factor, as in most of the other novels in this series, is the emotional depth shown in Alex's interaction with his family. Patterson understands that readers are connected to the character and his family, and uses relatable domestic life to entice us. Unfortunately, the rest of the novel feels like just another thriller with an ending that doesn't really satisfy. I know Patterson still has some great stories left to tell, but this novel was pretty middle of the road for me. 

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