REVIEW: ALEX CROSS RUN BY JAMES PATTERSON

ALEX CROSS, RUN
Author: James Patterson
Century RRP $32.95
Review: Monique Mulligan 

Alex Cross, Run (Alex Cross, #20)I used to really enjoy reading James Patterson’s Alex Cross novels and then I went off them. Nothing to do with the books, it was just that for several years I was unable to deal with Patterson’s sociopaths and psychopaths. They disturbed me. It happens at times – different books affect you in different ways depending upon what your frame of reference is. For the first time in over six years, I’ve finally picked up an Alex Cross novel – Alex Cross, Run – and been able to enjoy it for the action-packed thriller it is.

The action starts with a bust at a wild “industry party”. Cross and his colleagues arrest renowned plastic surgeon Elijah Creem for organising the drug and sex-fuelled parties that feature underage exotic dancers and models. Two months later, Creem, his life ruined, has bought himself a little time before the case goes to trial; he’s ready to make a big change, and it starts with a new face and the renewing of a game he and his best friend, Joshua Bergman, played on Spring break, 1988.

Meanwhile, as Cross begins initial investigations into the murder of a woman found in the trunk of her car, he is called to the scene of another crime: in his words, “And this one turned out to be a nightmare”. A young woman is hanging from a sixth-floor window, her hands tied behind her back. The medical examiner reveals the girl recently gave birth, but the baby is nowhere to be found. And then a third murder is called in: a young man, brutally murdered and mutilated. With three bodies in less than a week, the media is making sure people know about it, and before long rumours of three serial killers have everyone on edge. With more bodies piling up and the police department under intense scrutiny, Cross has no idea that he is also a target. And not just his reputation – someone is holding a grudge and will stop at nothing until he is dead.

I’d forgotten how relentless Patterson’s books were. With their short, fast chapters, the action just does not let up and it’s hard to walk away from the story. I read this in two sittings because I just had to see how it all turned out. Put simply,Alex Cross, Run is an electrifying read that had me glued to the pages from the moment I started. Patterson lets readers in on some of the secrets that Cross has yet to find out – all you want is for Cross to figure it out before it’s too late. But you don’t know everything – there are always a few unexpected twists that throw you.

As I read this, I noticed an interesting choice of names among the main game players – there’s Alex Cross (“A cross” evokes images of crucifixion and “saviour”), Elijah (a biblical Jewish prophet) and Joshua (a biblical Jewish leader) and Ron Guidice (“Judas” – the betrayer of Jesus). Elijah means “my God is the Lord” – Creem is a narcissist – his “god” is himself. Joshua means “God rescues” – there’s an interesting connection with Creem and Bergman; in one sense, Creem is always Bergman’s rescuer. And Giudice – his long-held feelings of betrayal prompt a betrayal of a different kind. Just a connection I noticed which, for me, added another layer of meaning. Cross is always the “saviour” in this series.

As the book tagline says: “Don’t look. Don’t think. Just run” … and get a copy of this book. Available from good bookstores and Random House. This copy was courtesy of Random House.

Bookish treat: Crunchy crisps – can be eaten at a fast pace and you can focus on the reading.