Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cross Country by James Patterson

Cross Country is the 14th in Patterson’s series of mystery/thrillers featuring the brilliance of forensic Detective Alex Cross. Cross has seen it all: murder, mayhem, and madness at its worse. At least until this story was penned. The descriptions of human cruelty and depravity offered in this thriller present us with the most graphic, unsettling scenes yet portrayed by Patterson.

The story really begins when a gang of ruthless teenagers invade a home, then proceed to terrorize and kill and entire family of five. Cross is called to the scene by his lover/fellow Detective Brianna Stone (Bree) and discovers that the mother of the massacred family is none other than his first romantic involvement from college days, Eleanor Cox. More grisly murders occur in the Washington DC area, all connected by one thread: All victims and their families were investigating the crime syndicate controlled by the Nigerian warlord Tiger. In addition, Cross discovers that his first love, killed by the gang, was recently in (you guessed it) Nigeria, Africa. “Ellie” was working on a book exposing the rampant crime in central Africa. Cross fishes for information from the CIA, but comes away with nothing but the feeling that there is more to the story than the CIA is willing to admit.

Cross heads to Nigeria in pursuit of the Tiger, having come up short in the pursuit of the warlord in the U.S. In true Alex Cross style, he immediately finds trouble in Nigeria. Corrupt officials, unspeakable crimes, and graphic violence meet and follow him across Nigeria. He ends up in an African prison, where for three long days he endures torture until the CIA finally springs him. By the time Cross is deported, the body count has reached horrific proportions.

Back in the States, tables are turned when Cross realizes that the Tiger is back, hunting Cross. The story becomes typical Patterson and the ending does not disappoint. However, this yarn is more action than the usual psychological fare Patterson’s readers usually expect. Warning: Not kidding about the graphic nature of the material.

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