As one might readily guess by the title, CROSS FIRE is the latest installment in James Patterson’s Alex Cross series. As often happens in a series once it reaches a certain point in its life span, this 17th book constitutes a perfect place for newcomers to jump on, while giving fans more reasons --- as if they needed any --- to continue on.
"While CROSS FIRE marks a watershed of sorts for Patterson and the Cross novels, there are enough plot threads left dangling to keep the series going for as long as Patterson wishes to keep writing..."
I should also say that, if you were an early fan of the series and haven’t dropped in on it for a while, this is a wonderful opportunity to renew old acquaintances. Patterson returns to old form here, and the novel is much better for it. The plot is deeper and more complex than those of his more recent predecessors, yet his stated goals in his writing --- to move the plot and the reader along quickly --- are still met, and admirably so. This is a book that should make everyone very happy indeed.
Quite a bit happens in CROSS FIRE. As the cover will tell you, Alex Cross gets married, and Kyle Craig returns. Craig is Cross’s one-time friend turned bitter enemy. Having escaped from an imprisonment that Cross was instrumental in effecting, Craig has vowed revenge and pursues it with single-minded intent. Cross is involved in a high-priority case that threatens to literally blow Washington, D.C. away. A pair of highly skilled snipers are killing high-profile white criminals, seemingly at will and vanishing without a trace. Cross is unaware that Craig has infiltrated the investigation, and is not only working side by side with Cross but also inserting himself into his household.
In the meantime, Craig cannot resist taunting Cross over the telephone and going so far as to leave him cryptic messages at other crime scenes. Cross doesn’t need the distraction, particularly because he and long-time love Bree Stone are in the middle of planning their wedding. And indeed, the nuptials take place. It’s what happens afterward that will have readers declaring this to be the most memorable book in the series to date.
While CROSS FIRE marks a watershed of sorts for Patterson and the Cross novels, there are enough plot threads left dangling to keep the series going for as long as Patterson wishes to keep writing it and his fans to keep reading it. The reappearance of another, nearly forgotten character from the past lays the groundwork for a storyline that could easily continue for another two books --- or more --- and a hint or two dropped at the end indicates that Patterson may be planning a crossover (no pun intended) novel between Cross’s world and another extremely popular series of his, as well as the possibility of a new spin-off series.
Patterson, whose name seems to appear on a new book each month, is not slowing down; rather, he appears to be amping up, and his willingness and ability to constantly create new projects while adapting and tinkering with his established ones is commendable. CROSS FIRE is proof of that.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 28, 2010