Sunday, January 11, 2009

Along Came A Spider

Along Came a Spider (Alex Cross, Book 1) Along Came a Spider by James Patterson

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ah the lure of mass market fiction... I often refer to Patterson novels as "TV for your brain". Page turning, edge of your seat excitement? Yes. Intellectually challenging? Not particularly.

This is the first introduction to character Alex Cross, a DC detective whose differentiating characteristic is his intrinsic morality, love of his children and his doctorate in psychology. A failed attempt in private practice leads him to policework.

Cross lives with his grandmother Nana and 2 young children. There is occasional mention of his late wife, who was killed in a drive by shooting a few years before the start of the book. Cross' partner Sampson and Nana are two likeable characters in the book. Cross himself is a worthy hero for the series, with an interesting character and southern charm.

The major theme of the book opens with a kidnapping of 2 famous children by their teacher. Consequently, a brutal murder of a family in a poor neighborhood remains unsolved. Cross manages to tie both cases together, for an interesting plot change toward the middle of the book.

The book frequently alludes to racial themes, but doesn't really dig deep into them. They exist more as a setting in the story than an actual developed part of the plot. (For example, Cross begins an interracial romantic relationship with an FBI agent. During one scene, Cross gets into a heated confrontation with a bystander who makes racial slurs regarding toward the agent. What was the conclusion to that? He goes home angry. There was a lot of opportunity for plot development with this scene, but wasn't central to the action of the book, so it was left alone.)

Perhaps I have been getting spoiled with my choices of reading lately, but I didn't feel like I got a lot out of this book. For pure entertainment value, this book was excellent. However, if you're looking for something a little deeper or something worth having an intellectual discussion about, keep looking.

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