Review

Cross Country

by James Patterson

There is always the possibility --- remote though it may be ---
that you haven’t read one of James Patterson’s Alex
Cross thrillers for a while. Maybe you jumped off a few books ago
while Patterson was still titling his novels in the series after
nursery rhymes (and, considering the events that took place between
the covers, deceptively so). If that is the case, I would strongly
suggest that you jump back in immediately with Patterson’s
latest volume in the Cross mythos. It is a wild night’s ride
like few you have read.

Patterson has not forsaken his trademark style in CROSS COUNTRY.
The short chapters lend themselves well to his goal of moving the
story right along, with the reader in tow. The basic plot is easy
enough to follow. An old friend --- a former flame, actually --- of
Alex Cross is murdered, and Cross, seeking something between
justice and revenge, pursues the killer. It is the details within
the plot, however, that grab you and suck you in. Cross’s
friend is Ellie Randall Cox, an attorney who, with her family, is
the victim of a horrific home invasion that leaves everyone in the
house mutilated and slaughtered. It is the worst crime scene
that Cross has ever witnessed, and the horror of it is magnified
one-hundredfold when he learns that Cox, a friend from his college
days and his first love, is one of the victims.

Cross all too quickly learns that the perpetrator of this
unspeakable act is a Nigerian warlord known only as the Tiger, who
heads a highly disciplined gang of teenaged thugs in the
Washington, D.C. area. As the gang takes other victims in the area,
Cross goes after them with a vengeance, only to discover that the
trail of the Tiger leads back to Nigeria. Cross boldly pursues the
Tiger to his native country and experiences some deadly culture
shock almost from the moment he arrives in Lagos. He finds that his
existence as a United States citizen, a law enforcement officer,
even as a so-called African-American, means nothing in Nigeria.

Cross is arrested, jailed, tortured, beaten and starved to
within an inch of his life. Unbelievably, the circumstances of most
of the citizens of the Nigerian nation, and that of neighboring
Sierra Leone, are even worse. Cross has few allies, and of those,
there are even fewer he can trust. Things become worse, however,
when he returns to Washington, D.C. to find that the Tiger has
exploited that which is perhaps Cross’s greatest weakness, an
act that may well change his life forever.

CROSS COUNTRY is Patterson’s most riveting Cross novel in
years. The dramatic change of locale as well as the introduction of
an adversary who is a more than worthy foe for Cross makes the book
unforgettable, especially with its account of the sufferings
endured by the Nigerian people to this day. Patterson does not
sugarcoat his description of the atrocities that take place --- you
can hear just as bad, if not worse, from any Nigerian refugee in
your community --- so that CROSS COUNTRY is even more violent than
some of its predecessors. What is truly frightening is that what is
described at the beginning of the novel may be coming to a
neighborhood near you, if it is not there already.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 28, 2010

Cross Country
by James Patterson

  • Publication Date: November 17, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 0316018724
  • ISBN-13: 9780316018722