Cross, the latest mystery novel by James Patterson, is a book of brutal murders and raw intensity. Smart and straightforward, it builds interest and momentum in short, tight chapters that captivate, creating an addictive read. Cross is another Alex Cross novel.
Cross by James Patterson begins with an idyllic love story; the perfect, happy family of former FBI agent Alex Cross, his beautiful social worker wife Maria, and their young, vibrant children. Heaven is shattered when Maria is murdered on the street by an unknown assailant. The case remains open for years until new information emerges.
Alex Cross, a psychologist and former FBI agent, is lured into the heart of an investigation of a serial rapist. Cross is not simply the hard-nosed investigator typically cast in the fast-paced and often grisly world of crime novels. Rather, his longing for his wife and the tender vulnerability he exhibits with his children bring, not only a believable depth and human quality to his character but emphasize the stark contrast between his persona and that of Michael Sullivan.
Infinitely more interesting, Sullivan is a sick psychopath who aptly lives up to his name, the Butcher of Sligo. A career hit man who finds his vocation both lucrative and entertaining, he exhibits a cold-blooded brutality that is never less than disturbing.
Bloodlust is Sullivan’s adrenaline. Calculating, quick, and intense, he is a ruthlessly sadistic predator. He revels in his reputation and enjoys the intelligence of a successful execution and the rush from the terror he if fully capable of inflicting on those he targets for sport or profit.
Cross is a deadly cat and mouse game between Sullivan, his victims, and the investigators wherein some players slip unexpectedly between assuming the role of feline and falling into that of the hunted.
James Patterson is an excellent profiler who skillfully leads the reader frighteningly close to the psyche of a madman, instilling not only disgust and a yearning for justice but also a sense of disturbing understanding of why Sullivan does what he does.
This mystery novel’s author weaves the game and characters into an interesting page turner. That being said, despite multiple murders, plenty of action throughout, the book’s ending is disappointing and anticlimactic.


Cross, the novel, is dedicated to bringing down a serial rapist and killer. Sullivan is the only focus. All along, the reader believes Alex Cross will get the retribution he seeks for his wife’s killer, that justice will prevail, and in the end there will be closure. Not Exactly.
Yes, the reader is informed that the likely suspect has an alibi, that the truth is out there, and even Sullivan himself states he did not murder Cross’ wife. Yet, Patterson frequently makes references to Sullivan as Maria Cross’ probable killer and draws some pretty straight lines connecting them, all circumstantial, evidently, designed to lead the reader down the proverbial garden path.
After all the burden of suspicion is laid on Sullivan, the real killer is revealed during nothing more than a simple conversation between friends. The low key, casual fashion causes the information to fall flat, like a bomb that ends in a fizzle not a blast, illustrating how just a few lines can change the tone and power of a book.
Cross by James Patterson ends with a chilling call that will likely lead us to the next Alex Cross novel by this undoubtedly talented writer. It is hoped that the book will be as dramatic from the first page but, this time, also to the last.

An Alex Cross novel
James Patterson
Little, Brown and Company 2006
400 pages

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