I’ve never read a James Patterson novel previous to this one and I can really understand why he’s popular. It’s crazy to me, though, how much he made his life and work into an industry. The way he shops out his name for branding and co-writing credits is downright absurd to me. But don’t hate the player and all that.
This is the first Alex Cross novel and the lead character is a Washington DC police detective who also was previously a forensic psychologist — a combination that makes zero sense to me. Or more so a trajectory that makes zero sense to me. It’s an author choice that not only doesn’t quite make sense, but also is suspect given that Cross is 38 at the start of this book. Two young children are kidnapped by a psychopath who had been in disguise as a teacher at a DC private school (a school network that is truly absurd if you’re not from around there — DC public schools area fraught for a lot of reasons but this city is sandwiched between two of the absolutely best public school systems in the country — Fairfax Co, VA and Montgomery Co, MD — and also I hate private schools as a concept so I’m biased here) who had secret security details. Alex Cross is investigation the murder of a Black family in SE DC when he’s called over to the higher profile kidnappings of the white children.
That’s our set up. It’s a really ambitious novel and while the plotting is solid and the mystery is decent (thought it gets very absurd very quickly) some of the writing is absolutely atrocious at times. That James Patterson, a very white man, is narrating about half or more of this novel through the POV of a Black man from DC could get very dicey is a given, but he manages to keep it mostly ok….deeply flawed and confused at times, but not as bad as I might have guessed.