Thursday, July 12, 2018

The People vs. Alex Cross Paperback – April 10, 2018 by James Patterson ( Grand Central Publishing)

James Patterson has put his iconic creation, Alex Cross, through all sorts of changes --- many of them bad --- since introducing him almost a quarter-century ago in ALONG CAME A SPIDER. Patterson, who has never been rightfully accused of failing to give his readers their money’s worth, pulls out all the stops in the newly published THE PEOPLE VS. ALEX CROSS. Yes, as the title indicates, Cross is in the courtroom, and on the wrong side of it, as he finds himself on trial not only for his job but also for his life...and that’s only part of the book.

Cross is on the docket as the result of a police action in which he is accused of an unjustified shooting. Because it took place in Washington, D.C., the might and majesty of the federal government is brought to bear against him as well. The case appears to be open and shut, given that the dead and wounded were all unarmed at the time of the shootings. This is astounding to Cross, who is certain that each of them possessed handguns at the time the deal went down. When seemingly uncontroverted proof is presented to the effect that Cross is wrong, it looks as if he is about to lose everything he holds dear, including his occupation and his liberty. His only hope for exoneration comes from not one but two unexpected sources.

Meanwhile, life goes on. Cross’ longtime friend and former partner, John Sampson, is busy investigating several kidnappings involving young women with blond hair who are later featured on the internet in what are cleverly staged “snuff” films that appear on what is known as the “darknet.” For the uninitiated, the darknet actually does exist, as described, and while THE PEOPLE VS. ALEX CROSS does not contain a “how-to” guide with respect to accessing the material available in the nether reaches of the information superhighway, it does present a chilling picture of what it is and who is on it.

Cross is there to assist Sampson, even if it is on the down-low, when he is not sitting as a defendant in court. Yes, it is a bit of a stretch, as is Cross continuing to engage in private psychotherapy practice while on trial for murder. But one can forgive these bits of artistic license (including a momentary violation of client confidentiality that also takes place) as the suspense quotient in both storylines --- particularly the one concerning the abductions --- is ratcheted up to stratospheric levels.

THE PEOPLE VS. ALEX CROSS is a turning point of sorts. Patterson, who is without peer in the creation of frightening antagonists, is also a master of throwing curves at irregular intervals into the lives of his protagonists. If the conclusion is any indication of what is to come, it appears that Cross and his family will be experiencing some major changes in the next several installments of the series. If you have been away from Cross’ world for a bit, now may be the time to get reacquainted.

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