Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jenn's Review: Along Came a Spider

Blurb:  A missing little girl named Maggie Rose . . . a family of three brutally murdered in the projects of Washington, D.C. . . . the thrill-killing of a beautiful elementary school teacher . . . a psychopathic serial kidnapper/murderer who is so terrifying that the FBI, the Secret Service, and the police cannot outsmart him - even after he's been captured. 

Gary Soneji wants to commit the crime of the century. Alex Cross is the brilliant homicide detective pitted against him. Jezzie Flanagan is the first female supervisor of the Secret Service who completes one of the most unusual suspense triangles in any thriller you have ever read. 

Alex Cross and Jezzie Flanagan are about to have a forbidden love affair--at the worst possible time for both of them. Because Gary Soneji is playing at the top of his game. The latest of the unspeakable crimes happens in Alex Cross's precinct. It happens under the noses of Jezzie Flanagan's men. Now Alex Cross must face the ultimate test: How do you outmaneuver a brilliant psychopath?

Review:  I adore James Patterson's Women's Murder Club series, and I had heard so many good things about his Alex Cross series, that I've been looking forward to starting Along Came a Spider. Once I started it though, I had to push myself to read it.

This was a hard read for me for several reasons. I like crime and proceedurals, but for the most part I cannot handle ones with crimes against children. This has only gotten worse since I became a mother. So from the outset, this was an uphill battle.

What surprised me the most was the fact that I didn't like any of the characters. I didn't dislike Alex Cross, but I couldn't seem to connect to him either. I can't even tell you why. He's a good cop. He's a smart cop. Perhaps it's because he had two small children who seem to be nothing more than a plot device. Perhaps it's because the Women's Murder Club characters have so much depth and are so vibrant that Cross comes off as one dimensional in comparison. Perhaps it was because Cross seemed to wear too many hats. Perhaps it's because the case covers two years. Perhaps it's the flipping of the first person narrative from character to character.

Speaking of the narrative, it seemed clinically detached and a little choppy. The plot had plenty of twists but I knew where we were headed early on and there were no deviations. Still, the path to the finale is an interesting one. There were a few things that were too outrageous to believe (hypnotizing a defendant in the court room in the middle of the trial?!? No way.). Suspension of belief aside, the story was engaging enough to keep me reading, even with the tough subject matter.

I have to say, I'm glad this wasn't my first Patterson, because it might have been my only Patterson. It actually made me question if what I love about WMC isn't Maxine Paetro or one of the other collaborative authors. Will I try another Alex Cross novel? Probably, but it won't be on the top of my TBR pile anytime soon.

Final Take: 3/5




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