The appeal of James Patterson's work cuts wide and deep. He is not
a stylist; one could harp on his occasionally choppy transitions,
his sketchy descriptions, or his sometimes-irritating jump from
first person to third. But what cannot be denied is that the man is
a storyteller, which is what a writer is supposed to be, first and
foremost. Patterson writes for an audience; if Guttenberg had never
invented the printing press, Patterson would be filling
amphitheaters, night after night, with audiences from far and wide
ready and willing to listen to his stories.
While Patterson has broadened his creative horizons over the past
couple of years, Alex Cross remains his primary bread and butter.
One of Patterson's biggest strengths is his willingness to bring
major changes into his storylines. The reader accordingly never
knows quite what to expect. Patterson recently moved Alex Cross
from the Washington, D.C. police force to the FBI. This was a
brilliant strategy, as it gives Patterson the ability to sketch on
a broader canvas without sacrificing the familiarity of people and
places created over the course of several novels. Cross is still
based in Washington, D.C. but is no longer as confined there as he
once was. And as his horizons have gotten broader, his bad guys
have gotten "badder." Two of them are in LONDON BRIDGES,
Patterson's latest Alex Cross novel.
LONDON BRIDGES unites two of Cross's most interesting and deadly
adversaries, the Wolf and the Weasel. Actually, "unites" may be too
strong a term, as they are only together for a very brief period at
the beginning of the book. They work together, however improbably,
against Cross, and against the world.
The novel begins with the forced evacuation of Sunrise Valley, a
small Nevada town, under the steely eye of a mysterious battalion
of soldiers. No sooner is the town evacuated than it is
dramatically and instantaneously destroyed. Cross is chilled when
photographs of the scene indicate that Geoffrey Shafer, aka the
Weasel, is involved.
The Wolf, however, makes his presence and intent known soon enough.
The governments of the United States, England, France, and Israel
are put on notice: what happened in Sunrise Valley will occur in
their respective capitals, unless the Wolf is paid a king's ransom
and several hundred "political prisoners" are released. The
countries are given a deadline of four days. Working with the
police forces of the affected nations, Cross is in a deadly race
against time as he battles two foes who have targeted not only the
capitals of the world's greatest nations but also Cross
As with the best of Patterson's work, it is impossible to stop
reading LONDON BRIDGES once started. Patterson makes it easy for
the reader. The focus here is on the action, and he delivers with
an urgency so intense that the story threatens to break loose from
the printed page. LONDON BRIDGES, from beginning to end, never
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 30, 2010