Friday, December 31, 2010

"Cross Country" by James Patterson

Alex Cross, police officer and psychiatrist, is called to the scene of the massacre murder of an entire family. He's shocked to discover that the mother of the family is a former sweetheart of his from university. It seems she was working on a story about the atrocities being committed in Africa, crimes in particular by a psychopathic gang leader known as The Tiger. When more families are murdered, Alex takes it upon himself to head to Africa and bring the killer to justice once and for all.

"Cross Country" isn't so much a thriller as it is a series of vignettes in which Alex encounters various dangers in Africa while pursuing The Tiger. The adventures themselves are certainly never boring, and do highlight - on a superficial level at least - the turmoil occuring in that country. However, the plot is almost an afterthought. The journalist that Alex meets in Africa - Adanne Tarsi - seems to hold the answers that Alex seeks, and was the one who provided the material that got Alex's sweetheart killed. If that's the case, why is Adanne still alive? She's a reporter and a public figure and holds far more threat than some university professor! Inconsistencies such as these ensure "Cross Country" is little more than a chase-filled travelogue, rather than the conspiracy thriller the book cover would have you believe. Did James Patterson take a trip to Africa himself and figured he could get a little tax write-off over the experience?

As usual, there's a cameo by Kyle Craig, Alex Cross' arch-nemesis. Does anybody else find Kyle Craig a little underwhelming? I kind of wish Patterson would be done with him and move this franchise in another direction. Every new book seems to end with Craig promising some distant future mayhem. Yawn.

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