Saturday, December 27, 2008

Book Review from the Verge: Cross Country by James Patterson

I am angry. Really angry. Okay, I would be angrier if I had purchased this book rather than winning it from, but I wasted the time reading it. Let me explain.

I have a short list of authors that I really like. Some are very literary, some fast and fun, some just plain old suspense/mystery. I love all kinds of books. I started reading James Patterson many years ago, really enjoying his fast paced psychological suspense. Whatever he published, I read. It was usually a quick, guilty pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless.

Over the last couple of years, Patterson has become a publishing monster, kicking out one book after the next with a host of inferior "partners" whom I suspected of actually writing the book and using Patterson's fame to sell them. I tried reading a few. It wasn't good. So I decided to just sit back, relax, and keep up with the Alex Cross series, which he continued to write solo. I felt invested in those characters: Cross, Sampson, Nana Mama, Jannie, Damon, and even Ali when he came along.

I was thrilled when Cross Country came out. I looked forward to it. I was jumping up and down when I actually won a copy! I saved it to read over Christmas break. Curling up by the fire, I settled in for good ride... and was I disappointed.

It started out well. A heinous crime, violent multiple murders, had landed on Cross's plate. As a detective, he is always driven, and when it is personal, even moreso. This time? Sheesh.

Alex Cross always put family first. His children have no mother. His family needs him. So for this case he follows an indiscriminately violent psychopath to AFRICA?! Right. He puts himself into harm's way so many times that I was rolling my eyes by mid-book. That, coupled with Patterson's lazy style, completely put me off. A novelist who overuses dashes --- and exclamation points !!!! to get his point across in chapters that are mostly one and one half pages long is not a good writer.

I won't bother you with the convoluted details. Patterson gets his heavy handed point across about the horrors in Africa many times over. I don't think I need to hit you over the head with my viewpoint. This book stinks. I am breaking up with Patterson. I urge you to do the same.



Bart said...

Patterson's "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" chapter writing style always intrigued me. Because at least in his earlier works it proved that a chapter need not be terribly long in order to be a chapter, you know.

However, if what you say is right, he's fallen in to a trap of being milked dry, something Stephen King flirts with on occasion. Thanks for the heads up to skip this one, or to at least only borrow it from the library.

two crows said...

hey, Lucy--
hadn't seen you in FOREVER! I'm glad you're back.

I haven't read Patterson, so I can't comment on his work.
But, I CAN recommend someone else -- in case you're interested.

Have you read Donald Westlake? If not I heartily recommend The Hot Rock as a first outing.
You have to be careful with Westlake, though. He has an extremely wide range. His stuff can be uproariously funny -- or too dark for my taste. So, be sure and read his reviews.

The Hot Rock is hilarious. And, he has followed the main character [John Dortmunder] through umpteen adventures and counting.
I'm waiting breathlessly for the next one [it's pre-ordered and due out in June or so.]
anyway, glad to see you back.