After I read the last Alex Cross book I was indifferent to reading any more to be honest. In my opinion the quality of Patterson's books has dropped in recent years, particularly since he seems to be churning out so many of them. Quality, not quantity- Mr P. So, it's safe to say that when a friend offered to lend me this, I didn't really have a burning desire to read it. However, for a bit of quick escapist reading, he's usually a pretty solid thriller writer to turn to- and turn to this one I eventually did, sucked into the Patterson machine once more.
Ridiculously short chapters? Check. Fast-paced plot? Check (probably to do with the short chapters, that one). Terrorism plots, kidnap and /or murder in a big city area? Check. Alex Cross strolling in to save the day with elevated risk/mortal peril towards his own life and family situation? Check. There we have it folks, a James Patterson book in a nutshell.
Forgive me for being so cynical, and I genuinely do love his earlier books- honest. Some of them are undoubtedly some of the best thrillers I have ever read, actually. I just take a Patterson book nowadays with a pinch of salt, which I did with this one. And it's not too bad overall- a terrorism threat hits Washington DC, the President's kids are kidnapped and Cross is called in to save the day. That's about it.
The writing is decent, but not brilliant, not like his earlier books. Character development is only so-so (Patterson seems to take it for granted that the reader will know who is who with the established characters in the series and forgets to elaborate on the newer ones) and I did feel a sense of place about this novel having visited DC in the past. The novel is wrapped up pretty neatly and that is that.
It's interesting that in this novel the infamous `Gary Soneji' case is referenced quite so much. For me, the earlier Cross novels, including those featuring Soneji, far outstrip all of his newer ones (including the ones he co-writes with less famous authors) and though I enjoyed this one enough, this was no exception. Will the newer Patterson novels *ever* have the prestige, infinite readability and brilliance that his earlier ones did? Only time will tell.
All in all, not a bad effort and a good bit of `switch your brain off' reading, but nothing to get too excited about. I only hope that Patterson gets his finger out and puts more effort into making this series better, or at least making it go out with a bang. It pains me to say it, but like the author, Alex Cross just ain't what he used to be. If you are a first time Patterson reader then please head towards his earlier stuff instead (`Along Came a Spider' for example) and you won't be disappointed: trust me.