Review

Violets Are Blue

by James Patterson

A
combination of circumstance and circumstances put me in New Orleans
on Halloween night in 1999. It was a memorable night for many
reasons --- the cross-dresser blocking traffic at the corner of
Bourbon and St. Ann's will never fade from memory --- but one
memory came rushing back, over and over, as I read VIOLETS ARE BLUE
by James Patterson. It is the memory of two men walking down
Bourbon Street, both blond, apparently twins, tall and buff,
dressed only in bib overalls, striding through the crowds like
bronzed gods slumming. The most striking thing about these
gentlemen were their eyes: blue, hollow, and without palpable
emotion. It was interesting to watch the reaction of those who
encountered them. People of both sexes didn't make way for this
couple; they actually appeared to recoil from them. My reaction,
then and now, was "Those guys are vampires."

A good portion of the latter half of VIOLETS ARE BLUE takes place
in New Orleans, and most of it involves a hunt for a serial killer
--- or killers --- who rend their victims during ritual murder and
drink their blood. We learn fairly early on who the killers are.
They are brothers named William and Michael Alexander and they
stride through Patterson's world just as confidently and with the
same aloofness as did the gentlemen I saw in New Orleans that
night. Alex Cross is brought into the investigation by Kyle Craig,
the FBI agent revealed in last year's ROSES ARE RED as the
brilliant, maniacal Mastermind. Cross, accordingly, must pursue the
Alexanders while dealing with the anonymous taunts and threats of
The Mastermind --- who knows his every move and location --- and
attempting to fulfill the role of single parent that fate has
thrust upon him. Patterson, as he has done before, adroitly
presents the various professional and personal roles that Cross
plays among the people in his life and how those roles overlap,
often inconveniently.

Patterson's writing style lends itself to his descriptions. He
tends to write in short paragraphs encased in short chapters of two
to four pages each. He does not get bogged down in descriptive
prose, by any means. He gives the reader...enough. Patterson is not
in love with the sound of his literary voice, and as a result, he
keeps his story moving along at breakneck speed. And as his
longtime readers know, Patterson's stories are worth consuming as
quickly as possible.

Patterson has been branching out from his bread-and-butter Alex
Cross novels of late, with his "number series" (1ST TO DIE and the
forthcoming 2ND CHANCE) and a foray into romance novels (SUZANNE'S
DIARY FOR NICHOLAS). The ending of VIOLETS ARE BLUE may portend an
ending for the Alex Cross series --- at least as we have come to
know it --- or, perhaps, he is just getting started. With
Patterson, you never know what to expect, but it's always fun to
find out.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 24, 2011

Violets Are Blue
by James Patterson

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446611212
  • ISBN-13: 9780446611213