Thursday, 30 August 2012

Book review - ALONG CAME A SPIDER by James Patterson

From the back cover:

The whole nation was in uproar when two celebrity rich kids were kidnapped - and then one of them was found dead. For such a high-profile case, only the top people would do: Alex Cross, a detective with a PHD in psychology, and Jezzie Flanagan, a fast-rising young Secret Service agent. Yet, even they were no match for the killer. He could switch from blood-crazed madness to clear-eyed sanity in an instant. But was he the helpless victim of a multiple-personality disorder - or a brilliant, cold-hearted manipulator?

I have read one other James Patterson book but when I came across this one in a charity shop I recognised the title straight-away and having read a later book featuring Detective Alex Cross I thought it would be good to read his debut in Patterson's work. I loved this book. I couldn't put it down and when it ended one of my first thoughts was that I must track down the other Alex Cross books James Patterson has written. 

The subject matter is quite disturbing as all books that deal with serial killers are I guess but I think it is handled well. Yes there are some graphic details of crime scenes but they aren't extensive and yes they shock you but they tell you what you need to know. The plot had lots of twists and turns and certainly keeps you guessing. Several moments when I was shocked by the turn of a good way! I love it when you can't guess what is about to happen but it makes sense in the context of the story.

As an introduction to Alex Cross I think the book does a good job at helping you understand him. He is very likeable and I can see he has real longevity as a character. I think it is so important to get your Detective right in these kind of books as you need to care for him and be rooting for him to solve the case as well as wanting him to stay safe. I definitely did all these things. Although my only issue was that I know Morgan Freeman played this character in the film of the same name so I constantly thought of him as I read. This is obviously not a criticism of the book but in a way it meant I didn't create my own vision of the character. Now I love Morgan but I found myself thinking 'I can't imagine him saying that." Again, this is not a criticism of the book, more a criticism of my brain!!

This book isn't a mystery as it often shifts to the killers point of view so you aren't trying to guess who did it but focusing on why he does what he does. I loved the criminal psychology part of my degree so this element of the book really appeals to me and I love exploring why people act the way they act as much as it might terrify me. The villain in this piece is a fascinating character and I felt he was very well developed and terrifying.

This book is perfect for anyone who loves a psychological thriller and doesn't mind a few grisly details along the way. A brilliant read and I will definitely read the other Alex Cross books as soon as possible!

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