James Patterson writes and is a co-author of several series. Alex Cross is a profiler in one of his series. So far there are 13 books in the series. I just read the 12th book in the series and it is simply called Cross. The book backs up several years in the past to events that affect Alex in the current. Alex has memories of his wife who was murdered back then. The person suspected of killing his wife disappeared but is back now.
This book has short chapters. I suspect the average length per chapter is 3-4 pages. I do not think the length of the chapters takes anything away from the book. Instead I feel the length of these is one of the reasons I was able to finish the book so soon. You get to the end of a chapter and feel you can read another.
There were other things that held my attention. The series has some constant characters other than Alex Cross. One of these characters is Sampson – a childhood friend and a member of the DC police. Sampson is one of those types of people who do best working by himself (unless he is working with Alex) and does not care what others think about him. When Alex leaves the FBI and sets up a private practice, Sampson asks for help and a personal favor with a rape case. They discover later that the case and several others are related and point to the Butcher. This is when the case becomes more than personal to Alex who has not been able to get over his wife’s death those many years ago.
Another perennial character is Nana – Alex’s Grandmother. She raised Alex and she takes care of the family. Nobody will “cross” Nana – not Alex, his kids, or even Sampson. She is one of the main reasons Alex decides to leave the FBI in this book. He knows he needs her especially when she threatens to leave him. As we know and are reminded through this series, Nana has been a big influence in Alex’s life as well as an important influence on his kids.
A good part of the book deals with the Butcher. We find he had his “influences” as well that lead him to become what he was. He is a professional hit man for the mob and anybody who would want his services. He is a cruel rapist who manipulates the ones he rapes to convince them not to say anything to the police. And when the ladies he has raped talks to somebody else about the rape, he goes back to them and tells them they are responsible for him killing them. As we know early in the book (and Alex finds out later), the butcher killed a lady he raped who talked to Alex’s wife who was a social worker trying to help her. It was shortly after the butcher killed that lady when Alex’s wife was killed. Although Alex did not know this connection, he suspected the butcher was responsible for his wife’s death.
The Butcher (Michael Sullivan) turned partially into what he became because of his father who was a butcher in a meat shop. His father was mean to his family and we learn he also sexually molested Michael. Later Michael got a gun and threatened his father. He told him he was going to let him live for now but he would get him when he least expected it. Later he kills his father, cuts him up in little pieces, and feeds him to the fish in the bay.
In this book, the butcher is being sought by the mob, the police, the FBI, as well as Alex Cross. He escapes several attempts on his life by the mob and goes after them. He gets so pumped up he seeks out and commits more rapes. Finally Alex and Sampson get a good lead on him. Mike gets caught in between Alex and Sampson, and a group from the mob. Alex has doubts that Mike killed his wife when the butcher tells him he didn’t do it. It looks like he will get away and will kill Alex in this mess but Sampson kills him before he does.
Sometime after the incidence, Sampson tells Alex he killed the person responsible for Maria Cross. There was another person working with the butcher. It was not until this time that he was able to say anything about it. Knowing the person responsible is dead is the start to Alex being able to recover.
But this is not the end. In the last chapter, Alex gets a phone call and the caller tells him there has been a murder. Alex asks why he was called ant the response was “Because you’re Dr Cross and I’m the murderer.” Sound like the lead in to the next book? We’ll see.