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This is the first 'Alex Cross' novel by James Patterson which I have read and I admit starting with this one may have been a mistake (more about that later). Whilst I am an avid reader of crime fiction/thriller novels this one sort of left me in two minds over it but this was mainly my fault not the novels.
My main bug bare with this novel is that it is written in 127 chapters - each one being about two to three pages in length. Then at the start of every chapter there is about a quarter of a page of blank space at the top of the page and at the end of chapters the rest of the page is blank. Taking all this into account the 308 pages (in my edition) becomes more like 250. Although the short chapters do have their advantages (again more later)
It is now 4 years since Alex Cross saw a former friend and colleague sentenced to death for a spate of murders which Alex had helped to solve. Alex's former friend had sworn revenge on Alex and his family and no prison will stop him all he has to do is escape from the modern day Alcatraz.....
Alex has put himself back into the police after spending the past few years as a therapist. A new serial killer, with an Alex Cross obsession, has one very strange tendency - he commits his crimes in full public view. You would think with so many witnesses it would be quickly solved......
With his former friend's sworn revenge in the back of his mind and this new killer on the loose will Alex and his new girlfriend, Bree, ever really feel safe again?
What I thought of it
As a stand alone novel this simply did not really work. Whilst there is strictly speaking nothing wrong with the plot of the novel it is mainly due to the fact that I felt it was rather formulaic and it is assumed you know who Alex Cross is and his past history etc. This sort of character development is missing from this novel. This I will forgive as I will put this down to the fact that it would have been done in the earlier Alex Cross books (which I have not read as yet). The novel is written in the first person in the parts with Alex and the third person at all other times. I feel, personally, that the novel would have read better if it was entirely in the third person. Really if you are going to read this it would probably be best to read some of the earlier 'Alex Cross' novels first then this problem would be alleviated.
The pace of the plot is good and the tension does at times build then fall back again before building again. This is in part helped by the short chapters which do give a sense of pace and urgency to a good part of the novel. There is also a feel about the way the plot is put together which does make it seem that parts of it could happen. Whilst there is a main plot and a sub plot the two do work well together and both give a sense of danger for Alex Cross.
The writing style of the novel is perhaps rather simplistic and therefore not heavy going. I found I was reading this novel fairly quickly and I have to say wasn't all that easy to put down as you are easily draw into the plot. Also if you do put it down and then go back to it a couple of days later due to the simplistic style you can easily pick up the story again without having to flick back through the last couple of pages.
Whilst the final few chapters at the end of the novel do work as a dramatic climax of sorts it has also, as most serials do, left a few things up in the air in order for a sequel to pick it up. I some respects I found the conclusion of the main plot to be a bit of a disappointment even though most things were tied up I had a sort of impression writes block had begun to set in.
There are a few minor characters in the book some mentioned in passing and others who, like Alex, would have had their characters built up in the earlier novels. This did make some of those in Alex's life almost instantly forgettable as there was nothing to remember them for. However, the more important secondary characters appear often enough not to need to flick back through the book to find out who they are.
Whilst I did enjoy reading this novel I felt a bit out of the loop regarding Alex Cross' background. This was due to not reading the earlier books in this series - my fault not the novels. Whilst the writing style is perhaps a bit simplistic this does make it easy to read and not heavy going. Hence it is a perfect holiday read or one for train journeys or long flights. Patterson's skill as a writer is clear and the tension is built up a various points in the novel especially during the climax of the novel.
I've given this novel 4/5
My reasons for doing so are that it is well written and has a good pace to it as well as the good use of building the tension at various parts. There are not too many minor characters and the soppy romantic guff between Alex and Bree is kept to a minimum.
I haven't made any deductions for the lack of background of some of the characters as I realise this would have been done in earlier novels of the series.
I took one star off as the first person - third person writing style switches did grate on me slightly. I still think it would have been better if it had been written entirely in the third person.
Firstly i'd like to declare my misfortune as this is the first James Patterson book i've read at current, however, what a start it turned out to be...
The book from the first couple chapters maintains a good firm grip on the reader as the story of the prestigious Alex Cross' Work life, home life and love life fit together like chewed Lego pieces.
The chapters are consistently short which in whatever leading busy lifestyle may favour as it can be easily dropped and picked up without backtracking. Favourably because of this, there is no shortage of thrill or the feeling as if you've been short changed, which proves to be it's uniqueness as the action almost flows segregated, by the turns of life Alex faces or the thoughts/acts of the killer.
Al through the novel pleases the senses of the reader with the correct amount of description, gore and no moments of cringe language. This ultimately makes the read almost unputdownable. A growing desire for the techniques and range of description.
The ending mind you Is rather pleasing then great. (without spoiling the book) you maybe disappointed by it and realise this is just another airport novel, I suppose my first James Patterson novel gave it more kudos as far as i'm concerned but still has me reading another, (Big Bad Wolf)..
In summary - Pleasing while in the book, but in hindsight abit of a pleaser
This is one of the few novels from James Patterson which makes more sense if you've read his earlier novels featuring single dad super detective Alex Cross. There are a lot of references to previous books and relationships particularly that of the notorious serial killer and ex-FBI agent Kyle Craig.
With Kyle Craig firmly behind bars in an ultra safe maximum security prison in the middle of nowhere there's absolutely no chance of him escaping ever and Alex and his family can sleep soundly in their beds counting down the days until Craig faces the needle and his life ends. These things are never quite that straight cut though. For a start Craig has a unique signature, one which is appearing on murder victims along with personal messages for Alex Cross.
There's no doubt that Alex caught the right man but was he working alone? Craig's mail is heavily censored, his meetings are supervised and recorded and yet he's managing to communicate with his partner or perhaps partners as events unfold simultaneously it becomes clear that things aren't always what they seem.
The discovery of a corpse within Kyle Craig's locked room has devastating effects for Alex and his family and leads to an exciting fast paced story, for the most part its rather predictable but there's the odd unexpected twist thrown in to keep you on your toes.
The book is well written but although technically its 437 pages long an awful lot of that is empty space. The type is much bigger than normal, most chapters begin halfway down a page, are only four and a bit pages long and the margins are huge too. It does seem a bit of a rip off to pay £7.99 for a very short story. I managed to read this over to cover in under three hours.
Double Cross - James Patterson
Description: Author: James Patterson / Genre: Crime / Thriller.
You can buy this book from Amazon right now for just £4.98.
I am a massive James Patterson fan and an avid reader of the Alex Cross novels. For those who have not read any of these books before, Alex Cross is a practicing psychologist who consults with the police on a regular basis. He lives with his daughter Jannie and his two sons Damon and Alex. Cross lost his wife Maria in a shooting and relies upon Nana to help him bring up the children while he works and also help to create a stable background despite the world of evil that he works in.
This novel centers around not only Cross but his girlfriend Detective Brianna Stone (Bree) who becomes involved in the unfolding horror.
Those who have read previous Cross novels will know that he helped secure the imprisonment of Kyle Craig, a psychopathic ex FBI killer who was held in a maximum security prison cell. This books tells us of Kyle's escape and his subsequent quest for revenge against Cross.
In order to achieve his goal, Kyle joins forces with the "Audience Killer" to try and wreck his revenge upon Cross and Bree.
This book is extremely well written and maintains a fast and edgy pace until the very end. The story is griping and will keep the reader hooked throughout. There is nothing predictable about James Patterson's writing and fans of Cross will not be disappointed.
The writing is hard hitting, brutal and explicit and certainly not for those who are easily shocked. This horror and suspense are typical of Patterson and the threat and thrills are maintained in a page turning treat for all fans.
This was one of my favourites in the series, and I found it hard to put down. The plot is filled with twists and turns and speeds forward to an exciting climax which I found extremely worthy of the author. Whether you are a Patterson fan, or just a fan of suspence fiction, this book will not let you down.
I definitely recommend that you read this novel, I enjoyed it from beginning to end and am looking forward to the next one. Patterson is up there with the best in crime fiction and in my opinion, just keeps getting better!
I'm a great lover of James Patterson books and this one doesn't disappoint. It has everything you'd expect from a thriller and you'll be left guessing until the last minute. The main question is, will Cross survive for another or is this his last?
Alex Cross books can be read without reading the previous novels but as always, it's always better to have read them so you can follow any little mention of them that there may be. So to start with, a little background on Alex Cross and the series of books that surround him.
Alex Cross is a police detective who has a degree in psychology and is involved in a lot of the major cases. His cases usually revolve around serial killers and his life has been endangered on more than one occasion. In fact, some would say he's the luckiest man alive! Alex's life doesn't just revolve around work and he has a family to take care of. At the time of this book, he has his daughter Jannie and sons Damon and Alex. Sadly his wife, Maria, was gunned down and died in his arms so Alex has the help of Nana to bring up his children. Alex is constantly juggling work with his family in order to get the perfect balance, but he can't seem to let these big cases go, no matter how many times he resigns. (I've taken most of this from my previous review on 'Cross', afterall, the background stays the same!)
Alex Cross has tried to move away from police work and violent crime on several occasions, but he has never quite managed to and it is no different this time around. He is once again drawn away from his psychology practice when a new serial killer hits the streets of Washington DC. Alex and his new girlfriend, Detective Brianna Stone (Bree), get to work on the case that includes some of the most horrific work they have ever seen. Nicknamed the Audience Killer, this man does more than even Cross can stand. The Audience Killer is true to his name - he demands an audience to his killings and will stage them in order to get what he wants. No matter how large the audience, he always gets away! Cross has no choice but to wait for his next move and he doesn't have long to wait!
Cross has more to contend with when old friend and colleague Kyle Craig breaks out of ADX Florence - a maximum security prison. Cross had earlier caught him for some horrific crimes and he'd been sentenced for life, now he wants revenge! Craig is referred to as the 'Mastermind' because he quite simply is a genius of his crime.
What will happen to Cross when he discovers the two are working together for the same thing? His death! Will Cross live on to fight another crime or will readers watch his slow painful death?
The characterisation is this book is as strong as ever and Alex Cross is becoming more like your friend with each book. His characcter is strong, courageous and determined but we can't forget his many flaws and the fact he leads with his heart on many occasions.
Alex Cross has his family life and is desperately trying to live a peaceful life with his psychology practice but something draws him to help out in yet another case. I think that by now, the reader probably knows why. When his wife, Maria, was gunned down, Cross felt helpless and infuriated that he couldn't catch his wifes killer and he lived for so many years without closure. Cross doesn't want other families to grieve the way he has and he wants to bring closure and stop the needless killing so people don't have to suffer like him and his family did. The fact the Kyle Craig is after him, only makes him that bit more determined.
Kyle Craig was last mentioned in Violets are Blue when Cross captured him and he was sentenced to life at ADX Florence. Craig has always been jealous of the attention that Cross gets and we saw him working long and hard to hurt Cross in the previous novels, Roses are Red and Violets are Blue. Craig is currently in a maximum security prison that noone has escaped from, but true to form, it doesn't last long. Craig is a strong character who is determined to cause Cross his life, but will he succeed or will he once again be sent away?
The Audience Killer (AK) is extremely arrogant but intelligent and this is a disasterous combination. He's smart enough to escape murder scenes even when an audience has been watching. He even manages to link up a webcam so people can watch in horror at his crimes without being caught. Can anyone stop him? This character is strong, believeable and terrifying all at the same time. It's also strange that in a Patterson book, we know who this killer is quite early on as usually you're waiting until the last minute.
The Narration is split between these three characters so you get an insight into all three minds. They do make strange choices throughout but because the way the narration has been done, you can completely understand why.
Some people have started complaining the the Cross books are too predictable as Cross manages to save the day every time. I think this is Crosss' 13th book in this series and i'm certainly not bored of them yet. If you've read his previous books then yes you probably do know what to expect but i honestly don't think that's a bad thing. Patterson has a very successful way of involving his readers into the books and he always makes Crosss' cases very personal so the reader can understand his otherwise peculiar decisions.
The pace is this book is fantastic and as usual is helped along with Pattersons' famous short chapters. This keeps the pages turning (come on, who can resist reading just one more chapter?) and the heart racing as you keep reading to discover Crosss' fate and whether or not he can save the day? Patterson doesn't allow one body to cool before another turns up so there are never boring points in the book and Cross is constantly forced to make big decisions under piles of pressure. This book also involves 'one of his own' and Cross has a clear choice to make, his life or someone elses?
Although Kyle Craig and Alex Cross have been in numerous other books in the same series, i don't think it is necessary to read the previous ones as Patterson goes over everything you would need to know. However, there may be an odd occasion where Patterson refers back to something that you have no idea about and therefore i would recommend reading the two books that featured Kyle Craig to begin with. The first of these is Roses are Red and the second is Violets are Blue. This enables the reader to have a full understanding of the relationship between Cross and Craig.
I loved every minute of Double Cross and i can't wait for the next one (if there is!). After so many books you would assume that Patterson has covered every storyline possible but this just isn't the case! He has new experiences, new challenges and a new girlfriend in every book! One thing stays the same though, my love for these books! Do be warned though, some of the scenes can be quite graphic so if you don't like graphic books, avoid this one.
I bought this book for around £3.50 but prices can change so rapidly you could probably find it from anywhere from 1p to £5. It retails in most shops that sell books and the likes of Asda and Tesco.
It is safe to say that best selling author James Patterson's favoured character is the former homicide detective turned FBI agent Alex Cross. Patterson has developed Cross' character throughout the numerous books he is in, and has taken him from villain to villain, putting them all behind bars one after the after. Here in Double Cross, Patterson repeats his successful formula from the previous Cross books by giving us a dastardly villain to contend with.
However, this time, to give it a little more interest, he brings back a criminal he has put behind bars and pits him against Cross one more time. The two villains together prove very deadly indeed, and it is interesting to see the way that the author combines the two characters to create quite possibly the most dangerous scenario for Alex Cross yet.
The characterisation will, to many, seem a little weird, but it is important to note that, unless you have read the previous Cross books, then a lot of the background content may escape you. The return of ex-FBI agent turned criminal Kyle Craig isn't described enough to let the first-time Patterson reader fully get the gist and importance of such a character, but then the book is designed to be read by those who have followed Cross through the books, and in order.
Luckily, I am one of those who have read the previous Cross books, and as such I understood the characters and also the styles of both Cross and Craig. Patterson's writing style is as fast and furious as usual, leaving little or no time for long and descriptive passages, and this is a trait of Patterson's. It makes it much easier to read the book in a flowing sense, and the combination of the short, snappy chapters and the non stop action and suspense means the book doesn't last particularly long: done in a day or two if you have a bit of free time.
I recommend giving this one a go if you are a fan of the Cross series: it is an excellent addition. However, if you haven't read the Cross books before, then I suggest you start them from the beginning, and work your way through. Double Cross is currently available from amazon.co.uk for £5.99 and is well worth a read.
A while back, I reviewed James Patterson's last Cross novel (the imaginatively titled Cross) where I bemoaned the fact the Patterson was churning out too many run-of-the-mill books featuring his most popular creation and suggesting that he needed to leave the character alone for a while.
Shows what I know. After a disappointing sequence of mediocre Cross adventures, Double Cross is back with a vengeance. Although it must be acknowledged that one of the key reasons it works so well is because it returns Cross to his roots, back to the character of the early books - the ones that made him popular in the first place.
Characters and character development have never exactly been Patterson's strength (his books proceed at too rapid a pace to allow for such niceties). Things are slightly different with Detective Alex Cross, though. The author has had the opportunity to develop him over a series of books, so he is much more familiar, much more comfortable, even a little more rounded than many of his creations. And so it proves here. Sure, he might be a walking cliché - one of life's nice guys; tough, but fair; trying his hardest to be a good dad in the face of a difficult and demanding job, but that makes him a character we can all identify with. In recent books - he's started to drift away from that and become almost a shallow parody of himself, little more than a convenient character that did what the plot demands. Thankfully, Double Cross reverses that trend.
True, Patterson's support cast still suffers. His family is even more sidelined in this book, which is a shame, as Cross's sparky, fun family and his relationship with them is always one of the highlights, along with the inter-family tensions his dangerous job generated. Worse still, his "best friend" - John Sansom, a staple character since the first book, suffers badly. He has become so paper thin and irrelevant to proceedings that it would surprise me if Patterson soon set up a "shock" storyline in which Sansom is killed. Finally, there is Detective Bree Stone, the latest in a tiresomely long line of Cross girlfriends. In fairness, Stone is slowly becoming a much more rounded, fleshed-out character and hopefully, Patterson will take the time to develop her more, and not feel the need to dispose of her to give Cross yet another new love interest. In fact, she is increasingly occupying the role taken by Sansom in previous books (friend, colleague, confidant), which is why it would not surprise me if Big John's days are numbered.
But let's face it, Patterson books have never been about characters. They've always been about the plot, the breathless chase after the latest serial killer to pit his wits against Cross. And it's here that Patterson really returns to from. He conjures up a belter of a plot, which sees Cross chasing two serial killers including former friend and colleague Kyle Craig. Patterson, as ever, sets up an intriguing and interesting story, which grabs your attention right from the start and makes you want to read on. Some elements are hugely far-fetched (in particular, the way Cross moves back into the DC police circles is unlikely), but it's never meant to be that realistic. Patterson's books are little more than the printed equivalent of a no-brain action movie: great fun, but undemanding. What matters is that the plot tears along at a cracking pace, effortlessly moving us from one development to the next. Barely has one corpse cooled, before another turns up, cranking up both the excitement levels and the pressure on Cross. There is actually a palpable feeling of tension that makes you want to read on as fast as you can.
Patterson also works his central story reasonably well as a murder mystery. Whilst he's never been the most subtle of plotters, he knows how to grab attention and interest. Clues are slowly thrown into the mix and revelations made at regular intervals, which sustain the interest levels by giving the reader more and more to think about. Moreover, because we see things from both sides- from the perspective of Cross and that of the murderer, we often know more about what is going on than the characters themselves. This helps to give the book a cohesive feel to it and stops the plot from becoming too flat. Of course, seasoned murder-mystery readers are likely to find it far too superficial and have worked out within the first 100 or so pages who the guilty party is likely to be. Patterson could never be accused of writing complex plots, and this might frustrate some.
Very much an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" man, Patterson sticks to his tried and tested formula of very short chapters (a "long" chapter in a Patterson book consists of 3 pages!) This makes it very readable and adds to that determination to find out what happens next. By keeping chapters deliberately short, you get sucked into the temptation to "just read that next chapter", since you know it will only take a couple of minutes. Similarly, Patterson's habit of ending pretty much every chapter with either a cliff hanger or a new plot development increases that temptation to carry on reading.
Readers who are new to the Cross novels would do well not to start with this one, however. It very much follows on events in previous books, without ever really explaining them for newcomers. As such, if you've not read any Cross books before, you might struggle to keep up with some of the developments. Patterson assumes he has a built in readership and that those readers will know exactly what he is referring to. Clearly, taking time to re-explain past events would slow the pace of his books down too much, so it's not something he has a tendency to do.
Although it marks a definite return to form, this is not the best of the Cross books - that accolade would definitely lie with the earlier titles. The sidelining of some key characters and Patterson's tiresome obsession with Cross's love life mean that there are still some serious weaknesses in Double Cross. What is certain, though, is that this is the best Cross novel to come out for quite some time. When I read Cross, I was worried about the fact that Patterson had set it up for its inevitable sequel and wasn't looking forward to it. Having read Double Cross I'm already looking forward to the next one (which, of course, has already been churned out from the Patterson word factory in time for the Christmas market...)
ISBN: 978-0-7553-3031-7 (hardback)
Available new from Amazon for £5.08 or second hand from £1.60
© Copyright SWSt 2008
First off can I just say - another fantastic read from the master of the thriller genre!
I have an immense love of reading and James Patterson is undoubtedly my favourite author and I am pleased to say that 'DOUBLE CROSS' doesn't disappoint
For all you James Patterson fans out there you will, I'm sure, know who Alex Cross is. However, for all you JP virgins, here is a summary:
The Alex Cross series is James Patterson's first and probably most popular. Alex Cross is a police detective/psychologist who has, in previous books, worked for the Washington DC Police Force and for the FBI and at times has had his own psychiatrist practice. He is known as the 'Dragon Slayer' due to the 'baddies' and evils that he has faced and brought to justice. His main task however, is looking after his family - his sons, Damon and Alex and his daughter Jannie. Oh and not forgetting his gran, Nana Mama, who always plays a big part in the series with her opinions and disapproval of Alex's job.
When 'Cross' was released in 2006, I wondered if we had seen the last of Alex Cross as in the previous 9 books that made up the series, James Patterson (as Alex Cross) often referred to the murder of his wife Maria and how, try as hard as he might, he had never really overcome it. Then, coming face to face with his wife's killer in 'CROSS' seemed to be the perfect ending.
However, it seems that James Patterson has not yet finished with Alex Cross as he arrives on our shelves again to confront not one but two deadly (and as it's Alex Cross - rather psychotic) serial killers.
We are firstly reunited with Kyle Craig, an ex-colleague and friend of Alex who we last heard of in 'Violets are Blue' when Kyle Craig - who called himself 'The Mastermind' was captured and sent to a maximum security prison - ADX Florence - after he went on a killing spree. Well, now we see the return of him, in prison - but for how long?
The second, attracts the name of the 'Audience Killer' (or A.K) due to the very public and rather arrogant displays of murder. The Audience Killer even sets up his own website and live video to portray his violence to a far wider 'audience'.
Alex Cross has left Police work behind and has decided to stick with an area he knows a great deal about and has set up his own Psychotherapy Practice. It isn't long, however, before he is drawn back into Police work when The Mastermind and The Audience Killer seem to join forces to bring down the legend of Alex Cross and all hell breaks loose. When 'one of his own' is held hostage towards the end, Alex puts his own life on the line to save them and doesn't think twice about it.
One thing I notice slightly different about this book to some of the other Alex Cross novels is that James Patterson gives us the identity of the Audience Killer about half way through the book. A lot of his novels refer to them by their stage name (The Mastermind, The Audience Killer) and it is not until near the end that we discover the identity of them, leading to a very dramatic and fast past finale and a feeling of 'oh my god I didn't see that coming'. This usually means that I spend the majority of the book trying to decide who it could be (and still get it wrong most of the time). The fact that the identity of 'The Audience Killer' is basically thrust upon us in Double Cross though (though under the surface but still quite obvious) means we don't spend the rest of the book guessing as to who it could be but instead marvel at the audacity of the Audience Killer when in general, day to day 'communications' with Alex and him completely unaware of who this person really is (and no I'm obviously not going to tell you who it is!).
Other than this slight difference thought Double Cross still has the feel of an Alex Cross novel. We not only read about the problems he faces at work with hunting down serial killers but also the battles he has to face in his home life with his family, his relationship with Detective Brianna Stone (that he formed in Cross and which we now see blossoming and unfolding throughout) and we still see the strong friendship he has with his long time friend John Sampson.
The novel is consistent with other James Patterson novels. The chapters are only a couple of pages long, delivering short and punchy scenes that entice the reader to keep on turning and meant that I completed the whole 300 page (hardback) book in less than a week. The book itself is also similar to his other novels with a simple but attention grabbing cover. A black background with a slight 'Theatre Seating' picture in the top corner (one of the stages for a murder in the novel) and James Patterson in large white letters and DOUBLE CROSS in large green letters underneath.
The characters are all well thought out as we are reunited with the old and are introduced to some new and all are interesting to read. As always, we get to see all sides of the story with an insight into Cross and also an insight into The Mastermind and The Audience Killer, who each take it in turns throughout as narrator. Although I don't think that it is vital that you have read previous Alex Cross Novels and in particular 'Roses are Read' and 'Violets are Blue' (in which we were introduced to The Mastermind/Kyle Craig, it may help the reader to have a far better understanding of his character and the effect that this betrayal had on Alex.
Overall this is another fantastic read from James Patterson with action, drama and thrills abundant and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good thriller of a read.
This book will be available in most bookshops. I bought the hardback version which always comes out prior to the paperback (and I can't wait that long for the next James Patterson instalment) and you can buy it on Amazon from approximately £5.00 (hardback)
Thanks for Reading