In the 15 years since Morgan Freeman starred in the first Alex Cross movie, Kiss the Girls, I’ve enjoyed quite a few James Patterson thrillers in films, books, and audiobooks. He knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat, whatever the medium. Alex Cross, Run, the 20th tale in the series, is no exception.
When I’m doing a lot of driving, I often choose Patterson audiobooks – they make the miles fly, but once I started this one, I kept the earbuds plugged in while fixing breakfast, walking the dogs, and even late at night. It wasn’t exactly pleasure that kept me listening. It often felt like drinking coffee when nervous.
There’s an amped up quality to Alex Cross, Run that couldn’t quite hide a formulaic quality, even though Patterson created much of the formula. Throw in enough serial killers – Alex Cross Run had three – and an author like Patterson will create plenty of tension, but I often felt manipulated. Every book tries to manipulate an audience; successful ones do it with subtlety. Here, elements like bad guy motives and family interludes felt somewhat perfunctory, like I might do if I started with a list of plot points and checked them off one by one.
Alex Cross, Run is not a bad book by any means. I’d give it three and a half stars out of five. It’s a thriller by any measure, but it adds nothing new to the series or the genre.
Perhaps it simply felt rushed compared to books I’ve read in Patterson’s other signature series, the “Women’s Murder Club.” I find Lindsay Boxer a more rounded character, with a richer circle of friends and environment than Alex Cross.
Any reader who likes thrillers and any writer who wants to learn about tension will be rewarded by reading James Patterson, but Alex Cross, Run is not where I would advise them to start.