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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

The Big Bad Wolf

Reviewed: April 2, 2006
By: James Patterson
Publisher: Warner Books
432 pages, $10.99

If you only know about Alex Cross from the movie versions of Kiss the Girls or Along Came a Spider, in which Morgan Freeman portrayed the psychologist/detective then the central character of James Patterson’s nursery rhyme titled series (other titles include Four Blind Mice, Mary, Mary and London Bridge) may come as a surprise to you. I enjoyed the Freeman films, but he is no more Alex Cross than Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie were really the duo of Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs in the film of Jeffery Deaver’s The Bone Collector, which was also a film I enjoyed.

Cross is an unorthodox detective, somewhat younger than Freeman could play him, who has recently left the Washington police department for a position with the FBI. He had envisioned this as a good career move, one which would enable him to focus more on what he does well and allow him to make a more secure home for his kids.

Instead he finds himself the target of office politics and jealous agents who see the recently transferred Cross as a threat to their own career ambitions. On top of that, it appears that his ex-fiancee (and mother of his son) has decided to assert her parental rights after a considerable lapse of time, and Alex finds himself facing a custody hearing in which his ability to deliver a safe home environment is questioned.

This comes in the middle of a case in which a team of kidnappers is apparently abducting attractive men and women to order as sex slaves for a list of clients who place their orders through an internet chatroom. The trail seems to lead to a mysterious Russian mobster known only as the Wolf, who gets very proactive when he finds out he’s being sought, and starts killing the FBI agents on the case. This does not help Alex’s custody case a great deal.

Patterson keeps all these balls in the air very nicely though 117 bite sized chapters that make for a lot of “I suppose I could read just one more” kind of reading. This is not deep stuff. There are others working this genre in much greater depth. In particular, several of the major plot threads are left as unresolved as a season’s end cliffhanger. However, enough of the narrative is wrapped up to satisfy. This was an easy book to travel with and it left me with the feeling that I wouldn’t mind finding out what happens next.

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