The James Patterson literary juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. The most popular of his considerable output continues to be his Alex Cross novels. Patterson has not hesitated to advance the series, book by book, making changes to the make-up of the characters, introducing new ones and occasionally taking familiar ones off the board. Each installment matches up Cross against frightening and intelligent antagonists whose crimes are so over the top that they simply must be stopped and eliminated; a draw is not a satisfactory end game. At the same time, Cross goes home to a household full of the same joys and problems that we all experience. He’s Daddy…except, of course, when he’s dealing with his 93-year-old grandmother, who bosses him around as if he’s 12.
"Patterson’s narrative style propels readers through the book like a locomotive through tissue paper."
Patterson’s narrative style propels readers through the book like a locomotive through tissue paper. While he has received some criticism for this, the fact remains that he knows and understands that authors are in the entertainment business, which is what he does, and quite successfully.
All of these elements are very much in play in KILL ALEX CROSS, which contains twin plot lines that intersect and diverge throughout the book. The first concerns the kidnapping of the two children of the President of the United States from their very exclusive private school. The disappearance of the children is frightening enough by itself; what is especially terrifying, though, is that the kidnapper does not want anything other than to taunt the children’s parents.
At the same time, a Saudi Arabian terrorist cell is carrying out a series of attacks against the United States. Hala al Dossari is riding point on them; she is extremely capable, motivated and, above all, dangerous. It is believed at first that the disappearance of the President’s children are connected to the terrorist attacks. But it soon becomes clear that these acts and the kidnappings have been carried out by two separate entities for different reasons.
Cross, with the D.C. Metro Police, soon finds himself in a measuring contest with Secret Service agents. That set of circumstances ends when the First Lady personally requests that Cross be given the highest security clearance possible to aid his search for her children. He eventually discerns both the motive behind the kidnappings and the doer. The problem is that he can’t prove it, at least by conventional means. In order to recover the President’s children --- hopefully, while they’re still alive --- Cross resorts to a course of action that takes him into uncharted behavioral territory, which, even if successful, will almost certainly have repercussions in the future. Meanwhile, al Dossari is on the verge of committing a new and deadly terrorist act that will lead to a series of events even she can’t foresee.
Patterson shows no signs of slowing down on any front, least of all in his Alex Cross series. The introduction of two new characters --- one good, one bad --- promises to play out over the next several books with consequences that are not easily predicted but that no doubt will be eagerly anticipated by Patterson’s legions of fans. Given his ability to keep the ideas flowing and his readers reading, there is little doubt that this series will find a receptive audience for as long as Patterson wishes to keep it going. If KILL ALEX CROSS is any indication, he is just getting started.