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Kill Alex Cross, or Fire his Writer

  • Chad Estes Contributing Writer
  • 2011 5 Dec
<i>Kill Alex Cross</i>, or Fire his Writer

Author: James Patterson

TitleKill Alex Cross

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

In his 18th Alex Cross mystery, James Patterson gives his famous detective not one but two major cases that deal with national security.

The U.S. president's children, 12-year-old Ethan and 14-year-old Zoe, take a rare, unguarded moment of freedom from their Secret Service detail to slip out of a window onto their private school's grounds so that Zoe can smoke a cigarette. What they hoped would be a chance to breathe outside the scrutiny of their teenage peers turns into a nightmare.

By the time the Secret Service agents realize they've been tricked by the Ethan and Zoe the seemingly harmless prank results in shutting the Washington, D.C. area down. The president's children are nowhere to be found and everyone assumes the worst- they have been kidnapped.  

Across town at the Dulles International Airport a Saudi couple, Tariq and Halla Al Dossari, make their entrance into the nation's capital. They are part of a terrorist group called The Family, a radical and very deadly Islamic sect. When two other undercover terrorists are discovered at the airport's customs line Tariq and Halla think their mission could be blown before it was ever started.

They use the chaos surrounding the other couple's cyanide pill suicides as a chance to escape scrutiny and blend into the Washington, D.C landscape. Before long they are connecting with their handlers in America and finding out details for their first mission - poisoning the local water supply.

Alex Cross, now a Maryland Metro Police detective, is one of the first on the scene to a horrific crash involving a white van that was seen speeding away from the school where the president's children had disappeared. He finds no one but the driver inside and he realizes that the chase had been a decoy. Whoever had taken the children had planned it well.  

Although the various agencies try to squeeze Cross out of the investigation, the president's wife personally requests the detective's help in finding her children, hopefully in time to save them. Since he has also been put on the terrorism task force his attention is diverted back and forth between the two major cases. 

Patterson has developed two storylines in this book that have amazing potential but are only half realized in the writing. Jumping back and forth between the national tragedies and points of view isn't so much intriguing as it is exhausting.

Both could have easily been made into their own books, and it is surprising that they weren't, seeing that Patterson has replaced the quality of his material for quantity. Kill Alex Cross is one of eleven releases that Patterson penned or co-wrote in 2011.

Devout fans of Patterson and followers of the Alex Cross storyline won't be disappointed as the action scenes in the book are gripping. Patterson also includes new developments into the Alex Cross' family dynamics, which though it is the only entertaining part of this story, it feels out of place in the midst of the major dramas.

Other readers will be disappointed at the lack of effort put into this book. It isn't that we want to Kill Alex Cross, we just want better material written for him.  

*This review first published 12/5/2011