Double Cross Review
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After a rather puzzling recent release that took a turn toward the paranormal (You’ve Been Warned, co-authored with Howard Roughan), James Patterson returns to what he does best: writing crime novels that will knock your socks off. Gone are the things that go bump in the night—and in their place is Alex Cross.

As Patterson’s thirteenth Alex Cross novel begins, the former detective is settling in to a completely different lifestyle. Instead of taking to the streets and hunting down criminals, Dr. Alex Cross spends his days in therapy sessions with his patients. Finally, he’s keeping normal hours—which means that he gets to see his three kids more often. He’s even managed to start a relationship with Bree Stone, a Washington, D.C., detective whose job allows Cross to stay in the game—if only vicariously.

But then a killer strikes. First, he poses as a terrorist to kill a well-known author. Crowds of people on the street beneath her apartment watch in horror as he throws her from her balcony. But this one gruesome murder is only the beginning of the deaths that this killer—who becomes known as the Audience Killer, due to his need to perform for spectators—has in mind.

From the beginning, it’s clear that the Audience Killer is trying to get Cross’s attention—so the retired detective finds himself back on the case. But as he works to hunt down a killer in D.C., another killer is planning his revenge on Cross from his prison cell in Colorado.

I know that, as a critic, I’m supposed to be cool and objective and, well, critical in my reviews. But it’s hard not to gush just a little bit about Double Cross—because it’s one of those books that makes it so very clear why millions and millions of readers love James Patterson. For starters, there’s the thrilling, edge-of-your-seat action and the hold-your-breath suspense. It starts on the first page—and it just doesn’t let up. You never know what’s going to happen next—or when the killer(s) will strike next—but you won’t want to put the book down until it’s over.

In Double Cross, Patterson manages to write an intricately detailed story without slowing down the action. He pays attention to the little things—pointing out the subtleties along the way. And, in the process, he makes it feel real. Somehow, by pointing out that Cross doesn’t trust a character because of his name, it makes him human. By writing normal conversations for his characters, using believable dialogue, he makes them convincing. And by sprinkling the story with references to authors and books and movies, he grounds the story and makes it feel all the more relevant—as though it’s happening here and now, instead of in some other, made-up world.

Patterson fans will be thrilled by Double Cross. The story is exhilarating and intense, and Patterson’s writing is as solid as it’s ever been. And if you’ve never read an Alex Cross book before, a reference or two to previous books may go zinging over your head, but you’ll have no problem keeping up.

Be warned, though, that once you finish reading Double Cross, the teaser of an ending will ensure that your wait for the next Alex Cross novel will be positively agonizing.

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