I knew before I bought this book that it was not a traditional Alex Cross novel, it is a book "written" by Alex Cross, based in 1906 America, telling the story of a man named Ben Corbett who returns to his hometown Eudora, Mississippi after being instructed by the President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt to meet with Abraham Cross (Alex's great-uncle) and write a report on the murderous lynchings and try and stop the racial tension that was very common in the deep south back at the turn of the century.
I am a big fan of James Patterson, having read most of his novels over the years, and despite misleading marketing by putting Washington DC's favourite fictional detective in the title (even though he only appears to write the short 2-page prologue at the beginning) which will no doubt be a big disappointment to anyone who hasn't read the description before buying it, I found this book to be very good and had me gripped from the opening chapters. I don't know a great deal about early 1900s American history but this book (which is apparently close to being non-fiction) has really opened my eyes to how bad things were between black and white people back then, with sickening murders and torture (much of which is in very graphic detail in this book) and abuse. The story itself is told from the perspective of Corbett, a lawyer from Washington who leaves his wife and daughters to do the work the President has given him, seeing his old hometown in a completely different light from when he was a boy.
Overall this was a very interesting and different read that I found to be surprisingly good with decent characters, a fast-paced plot and a good ending. If you read this not expecting it to be an Alex Cross book and you have an interest in historical fiction then you will more than like enjoy this. If you're after the next Alex Cross novel in the series however, you'll have to wait until the end of October.
on 12 February 2010
Once you realise that this isnt an Alex Cross story and settle in to the heat and racism of turn of the century America, this is a really good read. As with most JP books, I'd devoured its pages within a couple of days. This wasn't because of the 'as per usual' short chapters but because its a decent story.
After reports of lynchings by the klu klux klan in a back water town in Mississippi, President Roosevelt sends one of his old soldier colleagues to investigate the murders where coincidentally, his friend, Ben Corbett comes from. Corbett is now a successful lawyer, married with two children and is put in a difficult position by a clingy wife who doesnt want him to leave. Needless to say, he does and in no time at all you are transported down south to the land of gumbo, catfish and the horrors of racsism.
Ben Corbetts father it turns out, is a Judge in the town and the two dont get along at all, primarily because Judge Dad thinks that Ben believes he is superior with his Washington ways, which couldnt be farther from the truth. Ben soon meets up with his contact 'Abraham' an ageing black man who turns out to be the father of Alex Cross's Aunty, 'Moody Cross' (are you keeping up?).
Within no time at all the inbred rednecks are stringing people up left right and centre and arent too partial about their colour, even a white jewish man and Ben have a go, the latter unsuccessfully (just). Mostly its the poor, downtrodden black residents of hickville USA though that get the brunt of their medeival sickness.
Needless to say Ben has no prejudices despite coming from a hick town, mainly because a black boy came to his mothers aid when years before she and Ben had entered a shop in the town and she suffered a stroke. The 'white folks' thought she was drunk but the black lad actually helps his mother realising she is ill. From that point on, Ben realises that people are people irrespetive of colour.
JP provides some visually stunning and accurate descriptions of hangings and doesnt hang back (pardon the pun) on squidgyness, its not for the faint hearted. One thing that puzzled me however, was two chapters, namely, 116+117 to be precise, the content of these pages was out of context with the story later and not explained! Maybe I missed something but I dont think so. I wont spoil it for you but see what you think and let me know!
Having been to certain parts of the USA (not all) with HM Forces and experienced some prejudice when in the company of black US servicemen, I can understand how, at the turn of the century, things would have been as abhorrent as they are described in this book.
In conclusion I really enjoyed this story and there were a few surprises along the way. However, one critism, as I've found with this and other JP books, the ending could have been slightly better, more thought out and meaty! It seems as if he gets fed up and thinks 'how can I end this, I'm bored!' Thats the only reason the book didnt get a fifth star in my humble opinion. Regardless of that I look forward to his next book with anticipation, JP has virtually an entire wall unit dedicated to his books in my home. It would be nice for him to move away from Cross, Boxer or Bennett occasionally and do something like he did a few years ago, such as Jester or maybe even something to do with alien conspiracies but not Daniel X, although they are a good read.
on 17 January 2014
The only James Patterson book I have given up on, and won't complete. The only one I have read where the violence really does feel gratuitous. The whole thing feels like a formula, sausage machine effort, where someone has randomly suggested that Alex Cross needs to go abroad to refresh the franchise. I can see no other purpose in setting in in Africa
Sorry James- this one is really lame
on 27 December 2008
Once upon a time I was a huge James Patterson fan, but started to go off him when he started writing with other authors a few years back and I found it very difficult to keep up with his output, now I dont even try. I have however continued with the Alex Cross novels, but now I am not even sure if he is writing these? As other reviewers have commented on the style of this Alex Cross novel, it is not the same, but maybe its the weak story line that is highlighting the writing, or perhaps its all been done in a big rush? I just cannot understand how anyone can keep churning out so many books per year if he is really writing them? The quality is suffering badly as a result of increased productivity. I wonder how much input he has to each co-authored book, maybe proof reading and knocking some of the story lines into shape??? Well perhaps his editor should be having a quiet word with him, about the quality.. or perhaps they are too busy counting their money to care?
This particular Alex Cross novel is unrealistic, there is now way, he would have got himself into the situations he did (over and over again), and survived, given "The Tigers" ability to create total carnage where ever he goes without a flicker of pity and yet somehow AC gets away with it? James Patterson, should go back to writing one book per year and give us the quality we know he is very capable of producing. I will possibly buy the next Alex Cross novel, but all of the other co-author titles will be ignored by me. I would urge people to try Greg Iles, Harlan Coben, Nelson DeMille,Jeff Abbott or Simon Kernick for much better reads.
on 21 December 2008
The problem is I hold Patterson and Cross to the quality of Kiss the Girls, and Along Came a Spider. In comparison this is ridiculous. Cross is not an all action hero, he is a cerebal dragon slayer. I also can't see him going to Africa, he had already retired and had inflicted too much danger on himself and family. I really don't think this novel worked. Yes the Africa scenes are dramatic and thought-provoking (I have been to Lagos), but if that is a point Patterson wants to make, he should do it in another novel. I 'cross my fingers', for a decent Cross novel, and perhaps it has to be the finale.
on 27 May 2014
I have enjoyed so many of James Pattersons's books but this one was disgusting and totally unnecessary. The storyline was flimsy to say the least. 3 families killed are in USA - one victim an old flame of Cross's- caused Himself to up and off to Nigeria to 'capture' the man responsible. He didn't know the perp's name, just his nickname of Tiger -given to assassins in Nigeria - and goodness knows what he would have done if he had caught him??
The book turned into a huge rant about the Nigerian civil war, the atrocities in Dafur and rape and murder in general. NOT bed-time reading. I hope Mr Pattison doens't continue in this vein or I won't be rreading anything else he writes. I was interested to see the low star rating for this usually popular author. He did himself a whole lot of no good with this book.