Over the years, James Patterson has consolidated a reputation as one of the most copper-bottomed treasures in the crime genre with his Alex Cross books, and he has perfected a canny (but highly persuasive) economy in his narratives: his clipped, highly charged, pithy chapters possess not an ounce of subcutaneous fat (and frequently move towards some kind of unresolved climax, guaranteeing that we have to turn to the next chapter). Alex Cross’s Trial
, the latest outing, is something very different for his quadriplegic investigator, but Patterson (as ever) displays the page-turning skills that are his trademark (assuming, of course, that the bulk of the book is his work – this is another of his many portmanteau efforts; from his army of co-authors, he here utilises Richard Dilallo).
The innovations in Alex Cross’s Trial involve nothing less than Alex himself narrating the story of young Washington lawyer Ben Corbett who lived at the turn of the Nineteenth Century.
Ben is highly adept at his job, but is still regarded by his wife and father as something of a failure, wasting his time (as they see it) by doing unremunerative work for the poor and oppressed. Then, to his amazement, Ben receives a summons to the White House – President Roosevelt, no less, has selected him personally to help look into lynchings performed by a newly emergent Ku Klux Klan.
As an insight into Alex Cross’ background, this is both illuminating and provocative, but James Patterson (and his collaborator) prove quite as adroit at a historical narrative as at a contemporary one. --Barry Forshaw
Alex Cross writes his own historical thriller telling a story involving his ancestors