I, Alex Cross by James Patterson (Arrow Books)
To me, reading James Patterson is like a visit with an old friend. Each conversation is different, but there is a comfort, a familiarity: in the style, the rhythm, the characters and the process.

It might not be challenging and life-altering, but it is perfect as an escape from life, or as the literary equivalent of a palate cleanser; an easy read between more ‘difficult’ books.

Alex Cross is a regular character in James Patterson’s books; in fact, this is the 16th book with him as main character. He is a Washington detective, one who has solved some high-profile and difficult cases in the past. This time it is close to home: his niece, Caroline Cross, is found murdered. In his search for the truth about her murder, he discovers that there are some very important people involved, who will do anything to keep their secrets safe. As always, Alex finds that hunting for a ruthless killer, and finding balance in his personal life, is an almost impossible task.

This book is no literary masterpiece, but it was never intended to be such. It is far too commercial and formulaic for that.

It is pure escapism. Just as the details of the light-hearted conversation with the friend soon fade, leaving just a lingering memory of a happy afternoon, so too will this story fade from memory.

Having read most of James Patterson’s Alex Cross books, I felt rather disappointed, and a little cheated after this one. It has all the potential to be great, but it seemed flimsy.

The story lacked depth, the breakthroughs came too easily, and the villain was one-dimensional. It almost felt as though partway through the story, he wanted to finish the book, and he stuck an end on it with the middle missing.  In the days after I finished it, while I was wondering about what I would say in the review, I started to feel more disappointed.

We have come to expect more from James Patterson, and I could not help wonder if his heart was in this book. If you are in need of an escape, then give it a go, but if you can choose between this book and another, even another Alex Cross novel, then give this one a miss. Better still, wait until you find it in a second-hand bookshop, and buy it then.

You can read more of Jackie's reviews on her blog over here.

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