Cross My Heart by James Patterson (Little, Brown, $32)
By Stuart Nulman
James Patterson’s Washington, D.C. police detective protagonist Alex Cross is back in action with his latest crime thriller Cross My Heart. As usual, Cross is in hot pursuit of a psychotic serial killer in his capitol home town. Only this time it’s personal … very personal.
Cross is assigned to investigate a horrific mass murder in a downtown Washington massage parlour, in which one of the victims is former NFL superstar “Mad Man” Francones, and one of the young women who worked at the parlour ends up being abducted. Also, around the same time as the murders, two babies from separate affluent DC families are quietly abducted under false pretenses. With the help of his partner Sampson and his wife Bree (who is also a police officer), Cross manages to discover that the mass murder and the baby abductions are not just isolated incidents, but are characteristics that were similar to two other serial crimes that happened in two different cities across the country, and occurred practically every two years to the day.
But while Cross is in a desperate race against time to avert these abductions from ending in tragedy like the previous two occasions, an even bigger evil is slowly menacing him and his extended family; however, he is not even aware this menace is shadowing his every move (not to mention that of his family).
It comes in the form of Marcus Sunday, a scholar who wrote a book about what being the perfect criminal is all about. And using all the principles and characteristics that are featured in his book, Sunday – who also goes by the name of Thierry Mulcher – lives out the modus operandi of the perfect criminal, in which he uses Alex Cross and his family as his intended target.
Through a lot of crafty deception, stealth moves and the latest in surveillance technology, Sunday/Mulch works out what he thinks is the perfect criminal’s perfect crime of revenge against Cross, which for some unknown reason, the end result he hopes to achieve is to not only seriously hurt Alex Cross, but allow this perfect violent plan to hit him in his most vulnerable spot, his entire immediate family … wife, children and grandmother.
Patterson has once again accomplished writing a crime thriller that like many of his best sellers, keeps the reader in never ending suspense, and wants them to consume each bite-size chapter (which averages about 2-3 pages each) until the bitter end. The writing is crisp and uncomplicated, and filled with plenty of details of the practices and procedures law enforcement officers utilize towards the solving of the heinous crime in question.
And this race-against-time suspense is taken up to another level in Cross My Heart, as Cross discovers the horrific nature of the crime that Sunday/Mulcher has committed against him and his family. And by the way, without having to give away too much of the book’s climax, the reader is given the serial treatment, as the story remains incomplete, and will be concluded in a subsequent Cross thriller that could probably hit the bookstores before this year is out. You may get that “wow!” feeling or end up feeling cheated after reading Cross My Heart; but don’t forget, for Alex Cross, this case/battle of wits he is currently involved with is personal … very personal.
Stuart Nulman’s “Book Banter” segment is a twice-a-month feature on “The Stuph File Program” with Peter Anthony Holder, which now has almost 150,000 listeners per week. You can either listen or download it at www.peteranthonyholder.com, Stitcher.com or subscribe to it on iTunes. Plus you can find it at www.CyberStationUSA.com, www.KDXradio.com, True Talk Radio, streaming on www.PCJMedia.com, and over the air at World FM 88.2fm in New Zealand, Media Corp in Singapore and WSTJ, St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Stuart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.