The Big Bad Wolf

by James Patterson

Big bad wolves have a long literary history. James Patterson's
newest Alex Cross novel has a human wolf that is more cunning,
dangerous and lethal than any of his namesakes. "An improbable
murder story told about the Wolf … had made its way into
police lore and then spread quickly from Washington to New York to
London and to Moscow." While no one knew if the tale was true, "it
was consistent with other outrageous incidents in the Russian
gangster's life." He was linked to one particularly gruesome murder
that took place after he visited an Italian don in "the
high-security supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. The next
morning Augusto Palumbo was found dead in his cell. Nearly every
bone in his body had been broken … a method used in the
Moscow underworld … known as zamochit …[that]
signified complete and total dominance of the attacker. The Wolf
was boldly stating that he was now the godfather."

He rises on the horizon about the same time Detective Cross has
turned in his Washington, D.C. shield, to enroll in the New Agent
Training program "at the FBI Academy in Quantico. Sometimes called
'Club Fed' … [it] was turning out to be a challenging,
arduous, and tense program … [that he] liked." At forty-two,
Cross was the oldest trainee. The new director, Ron Burns, who was
thought to be a rebel by the old guard, was willing to bend a few
rules because he wanted Alex on his watch; thus, he made an offer
Cross couldn't resist.

His first assignment is to solve the mystery behind the
disappearances of white, blonde, attractive upper-middle class
women. They had begun to disappear in alarming numbers, never to be
seen or heard from again. The women have vanished with no clues
left behind and no witnesses to their abductions. The first bit of
information presented to Cross is in a seminar focused on
psychopaths. "Even though [he] was familiar with some of the
material [learned when he earned his Ph.D. in psychology, he] found
himself jotting down [many] of the forty 'characteristics' of
psychopathic personality and behavior." As one of the leading
investigators assigned to the case, he felt an adrenalin rush as
heady as any he has experienced as a detective.

But things are not as smooth as Alex had hoped. His immediate
superior is resentful and angry about Cross's reputation and status
above the other rookies. And on the home front, Christine, his
former lover and mother of his son, decides to reappear. She had
abandoned them all a year before, so Alex knows his family may be
threatened. As she tries to ingratiate herself into the Cross clan,
she makes it clear that she wants custody of the little boy --- and
she is willing to do anything to get it. Alex, his children and his
mother are devastated at the possibility of losing the wonderful
child who had become part of their family.

At times THE BIG BAD WOLF seems a bit of a stretch for the reader.
The cutouts between worldwide law enforcement agencies and the Wolf
defuse the suspense when they laughingly admit they are not who
they pretended to be. The abductions, carried out in broad
daylight, mostly in shopping malls, will send a chill through every
woman who has ever walked to her car without thinking who may be
following her. The notion of a white slavery ring, which is the
basic premise upon which the plot rests, sounds far-fetched but
overall it works and at least makes for an interesting read. After
all, how many readers think about suburbia as the showcase for
crazy men who are willing to pay millions to fulfill their
fantasies with stolen women?

James Patterson is such a prolific writer, and Alex Cross is such a
familiar character, that fans, and those new to this series, are
bound to enjoy the latest addition to the Alex Cross/Will Lee
novels. Enjoy!

Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on January 21, 2011

The Big Bad Wolf
by James Patterson

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446610224
  • ISBN-13: 9780446610223