Four Blind Mice (Alex Cross)
Alex Cross and John Sampson track down a gang of killers who
execute with military precision...
James Patterson seems to be spending every waking minute writing.
I'm too laz --- er, too busy right now to check, but I think that
FOUR BLIND MICE is the third book he's had published this year. He
has a strong trademark character with Alex Cross, and writes a
number of "stand-alone" novels as well just to keep the mix varied.
FOUR BLIND MICE is the latest --- and possibly the best ---
installment of the Cross novels. It combines Patterson's trademark
literary style --- short sentences and brief scenes which keep the
narrative moving along --- while providing Cross with a change of
scene from the standpoint of both geography and plot.
FOUR BLIND MICE begins with Cross being asked by his lifelong
friend John Sampson to assist him in coming to the aid of Ellis
Cooper, another old friend of Sampson's. Cooper, a sergeant in the
U.S. Army, has been convicted of a triple homicide. The case was
practically open-and-shut: there is DNA evidence; the murders were
committed with Cooper's knife; and he was observed at the scene of
the crime. The only exculpatory evidence which Cross and Sampson
have is the eyewitness account of a young boy who lives next door
to the home where the murders took place. His account: there were
three men at the home at the time of the murder.
Patterson lets his reader know almost immediately that Cooper is
being framed, and lets us know that the boy is correct: there are
three murderers --- The Three Blind Mice --- who are highly trained
killers in the midst of a murder spree for hire. While the
identities of the killers are revealed early on to the reader, the
question remains as to who is their shadowy, mysterious employer
whose identity and motive is unknown even to the murderers. Cross
and Sampson, through dogged, good old-fashioned police work, slowly
learn for themselves what was revealed to the reader and find that
the trail ultimately and unexpectedly leads back into Cross' own
past, with possible repercussions for his future.
Patterson continues in FOUR BLIND MICE his practice of letting
Cross and his supporting characters slowly evolve and develop.
Cross makes a big change in his life in FOUR BLIND MICE and appears
to be on the verge of making another. Sampson makes a totally
unexpected change in his life as well. And as for Cross' family,
well...they are as real as one can find in mystery fiction.
Patterson's ever-evolving ability to balance Cross' professional
and personal life as a backdrop to a suspenseful manhunt is
ultimately responsible for the ongoing popularity of this series,
which has translated, in turn, to success for his non-Cross novels
as well. Patterson shows no sign of slowing down at this point, and
his legion of fans --- large, and growing ever larger --- will
undoubtedly continue to clamor for more.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011