on November 16, 2004
This is the tenth in Patterson's Detective (now FBI special envoy) Alex Cross series, and from the outset, we would surmise that if you are not a faithful follower of the previous nine, you will be lost. First, both central villains are reprised from earlier books (the "Weasel" from "Pop Goes the Weasel"; and the "Wolf" from "Big Bad Wolf"), but it's not so clear how or why they are in cahoots. The Weasel in specific gets bumped off so unceremoniously that we almost wonder why he was even included in this novel. Second, and worse, the brief scenes featuring Alex's little boy and his mother Christine, Alex's current squeeze Jamilla, and his ex-partner Sampson, etc. etc., were so sketchy that the uninformed reader might think these segments irrelevant filler.
Couple that with an incredulous plot wherein the Wolf is leading the presidents of four countries around by their noses, almost a trite post-9/11 recital of terror with Al Queda thrown in every few chapters just for effect; it soon becomes clear this is not one of Patterson's better efforts. The storyline is as usual reeled out in short, three-page chapters, with action galore. But we are given so little meat, so little background, so little motivation to care, that the race toward the end of the book was almost anticlimactic. An overdose of red herrings and gratuitous slayings did little to endear the plot to us either.
While we generally enjoy Patterson's fast-paced thrillers, this one looks too much like a bad screenplay - you know the feeling: it's not that it's horrible, but you wonder later why you spent so much money for so little real entertainment. He can do much better, and so can you.
on November 13, 2004
If you look back through James Patterson's celebrated Alex Cross series, you'll find some of the finest thrillers written in the past decade. Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls, Pop Goes The Weasel, and Roses are Red are all prime examples of a talented writer at the height of his career. Unfortunately, Roses are Red was the last entry in this series that truly captured the essence of the Alex Cross character, and everything that's come after has been mediocre at best, with London Bridges being no exception.
The story picks up right where The Big Bad Wolf left off. Cross is working for the FBI tracking the Wolf, the most ruthless predator he's dealt with in his long career. To complicate matters, the Wolf has joined forces with the Weasel, a villian from previous Cross novel Pop Goes the Weasel. After blowing a small Nevada town off the map, the duo holds four major cities hostage, demanding a multi-billion dollar ransom. Naturally, it's up to good old Alex Cross and his team of FBI agents to put a stop to their diabolical scheme.
When the series started, Alex Cross tracked serial killers, expertly piecing together clues to solve crimes that baffled other detectives. Seemingly overnight, he seems to have switched his focus to combating world espionage. It's not that the writing itself is bad, the problem lies in the fact that the plot is so contrived and unrealistic, readers can't help but think "yeah, right". And isn't it interesting that with each new novel, Patterson describes the villian as Cross' most formitable foe??? Formitable or not, the Weasel served absolutely no purpose here. His role in the story seemed like nothing more than a cheap way to win back fans who have long since abandoned this lukewarm series.
No matter what reviews say, Patterson fans will devour this new novel in one or two sittings hoping for some kind of improvement over his last dozen or so novels. Sadly, they won't find any improvement here. Only a mediocre thriller that makes them long for the days when Patterson's books were fantastic.
on November 22, 2004
This is by far the weakest of the Alex Cross series. Several things:
1) How does the Wolf go from a sadistic, homocidal, slave-trading maniac to an international, celibate, terrorist?
2) This maniac was blowing up bridges in major cities. He killed about 1,000 people in Paris. The book doesn't even get into the implications of this, except to say that maybe "the French want him as bad, maybe more, than we do".
3) His family was missing for at least 5 days. Where were they? What happened? He doesn't even touch upon this.
4) The Wolf never addresses Cross killing The Weasel. Hell, Patterson barely touches upon it - it's almost a footnote. What the...?.
Of course, Patterson left it wide-open for a sequel... "The Wolf is dead... at least that's what I told myself over and over again until I believed it". Something like that. But I tell you, I could almost care nothing about a sequel. I'm guessing that "The Wolf" is really an organization of some kind, but, again, who cares at this point? Not me.
on November 17, 2004
I have read every book by Patterson & this is the first one that I consider unworthy of his past efforts.
Mr. Patterson should be looking over his shoulder for a multitude of reasons - thin plot, convoluted closing, and just not up to par. We bring back the WOLF and the WEASEL and perhaps these "rats" are a reflection of the text.
But an even bigger problem is what Mr. Patterson has done with the pages. A classic example of caveat emptor.
The book is 391 pages but then again, it is not.
FIRST, the font size is much larger so let's assume that reduces the text by 20 pages.
SECOND, the book has a Prologue and 5 Parts. Each one allows for blank pages that total 14 pages included in the total.
THIRD, we have 123 chapters, all of which start mid-page and end mid-page. That deducts another 123 pages from the book.
So we reduce the readable text from 391 pages to 234. And, guess what, the price did not shrink.
This book and the manner in which it is presented is a bummer.
Future books by Patterson, if I read them, will be on the library list so I may save my money for OTHER authors.
on May 21, 2005
I picked this book up in the airport for an easy oveseas airplane read. What a piece of trash. Wooden characters. Poor writing. Terrible or non-existent dialogue. The plot itself had promise - perhaps a good screenwriter might do something with it one day. Mr. Patterson certainly did little with it. When the author described exploding bridges and massive bombs devastating central Paris as if he were reading the particulars of an income tax return I wanted to throw the book out the window. Would have, but we were at 36,000 feet.
on March 30, 2005
Despite the presence of all the key elements for a great or even good thriller, 'London Bridges' falls far short. For much of the book the 'good guys' are clueless and at the mercy (such as it is) of the 'bad guy', the almost too blood-thirsty Wolf.
What we get from Alex Cross, instead of investigative work (and his signature introspection), is a whirl-wind tour of our European allies. (By the way, the hill-top village in the south of France is Eze, pronounced like 'Pez'). In earlier books Cross was personally pitted against the bad guys, but in his new role with the FBI he is included due to his deep understanding of the criminal mind. Oh, yeah . . .
Which means, in this book, he's a tag-long, sitting by the sidelines, waiting for others to catch a break in the case . . .
The good guys don't have a clue, so Cross flies around a lot, and visits people. It's not even a chase as nobody knows where the Wolf will strike next. Too much ambiguity.
In 'London Bridges' James Patterson has 'gone Hollywood', substituting pyrotechnics for plot line. Instead of writing something interesting or challenging he shoots someone or blows something up. This can be good in a 'popcorn' movie, but it's slow death in literature.
I will continue to read Patterson, with somewhat less anticipation, if only because he is one of the few remaining mystery writers who can occasionally write a cohesive sentence, even if the action is drawn out, implausible or disjointed.
By the way, many of the lower-rated reviews on this page were more entertaining than 'London Bridges' . . .
on February 1, 2005
This book starts ok, with the usual Patterson suspense and building of plots and subplots. Unfortunately, with this book an with the recent Lake House, James has forgotten how to close the deal. It's as if he thinks,"Well, I guess I've written 400 pages, so I better end it." Then he throws in a series of endings, none of which make sense - Alex Cross's family is kidnapped and returned with no real explanation of how this happened, where they were, and what the impact was. Not to mention there is great character build up about the Weasel, and his death is treated as a ho-hum event. Mr. Patterson has lost control of his writing and his books. I think I am done with him.
I've been doing a high volume of tech book reading lately, so getting a chance to escape into a novel by a favorite author was welcome. That book was London Bridges, James Patterson's latest Alex Cross detective novel. Unfortunately, this was the biggest disappointment I've had of late for an author I expect so much more from...
Cross is apparently on vacation when two adversaries from prior novels, The Wolf and The Weasel, join forces to hold the world hostage with acts of terror. They start out by dropping fuel bombs on small cities, virtually annihilating them (in order to show their power). They then demand a very large sum of money and the release of some political prisoners or they will target four large international cities with supposedly hellish results. There's a plant somewhere in the team trying to track them down, so the masterminds are always one step ahead of the good guys. Cross has a personal stake in this, as he wants revenge for past acts committed by the two. And so the race is on to see if Wolf and Weasel will be found before the world's major cities are destroyed.
If you want to preserve the ending but still care about my opinion, stop reading at this paragraph with the simple statement... This was a very poor piece of work by someone with much more talent than displayed here, and I'm not sure I'd even cut him a break if it was his first novel.
Now into some details as to why the book was so bad... The first part of the book was typical Cross stuff, paced well with a good plot line. But then about halfway through, it all starts to unravel. Cross meets Weasel on a dark street in the middle of the night, with Weasel intending to shoot him. There's a fight, Cross has his arm sliced, but ends up killing the guy. That's it! No discussion about the injury, no investigation, nothing! A major opponent is killed off, and there's nothing more in the story. The book starts off with major destruction of cities, and then he switches to blowing up bridges when making his demands. This is an escalation? At the final deadline, it's said there are briefcase nukes in the four major cities. Money is paid, and a conventional explosion occurs in Paris anyway. Not apocalyptic by any means, and the story abruptly switches to Cross trying to find Wolf. No more about the nukes, the threats, anything. Huh? Cross is "on vacation" when all this starts to happen, but midway through the book, he sounds as if he's on this case against his will and that they had no right to call him back on duty and that he might just walk out and leave. I don't think so. I must have been sleeping when the whole symbolism behind the bridges was revealed, because I missed it. And the tie between Wolf and the government inside source didn't really drive any of the story that I could tell.
I'm probably being more harsh than normal, but I know Patterson can do better. Unfortunately I kept wondering if this was his period of decline, a la Patricia Cornwell in the Kay Scarpetta series (which I won't read any more). I'll definitely read the next one, because I don't want to believe that Cross has run his course and that Patterson has lost his touch. But if the next one is anything like this one, I'll be looking for another author to take his place.
on November 19, 2004
I've been a big fan of James Patterson, and his novels, following them avidly. But recently, the Alex Cross novels have began to take a downward slide. I keep reading, in hope that perhaps the next will be better than the previous one read, but so far, I've been let down. London Bridges was terrible, and made no sense at all. It appeared to be slapped together without any thought at all. I'm confused... I thought the Women's Murder Club novels were superb, so what's happening to Alex Cross?
on November 16, 2004
I long for the days where each chapter had me on the edge of my seat and I would find myself reading into the dead of night. Alas, this seems to be gone in James Patterson's writing. Also, the books are so short now (did anyone else notice the typeset is getting larger?), I can polish one off in two hours.
I would like to know what Patterson is focusing on instead of his writing. He's getting a lot of books out, but I think most of his audience would prefer that we see one really good book a year instead of 4 mediocre ones. I actually enjoyed (somewhat) his other two which were collaborations ("3rd Degree" and "The Jester" with Andrew Gross) and "Sam's Letters to Jennifer" better than any of the latest in the Alex Cross series.
Alex just seems confused these days... to work or not to work in the crime field... to be with Jamilla, Christine, or hey, let's throw in Nana's doctor just to really confuse things.... Alex has lost his passion and so has Patterson. We've basically lost Sampson too - one of the really fun characters in previous Cross novels. I think he showed up for a few sentences in a single chapter this time.
And I completely agree with the other reviewers about not finishing storylines (or finishing them in a very unsatisfactory manner)!! I mean, I guess being kidnapped is an everyday occurrence in the Cross family so they just brushed it off and gathered around the piano to get over their bad day? And don't get me started on the ending. It's like Patterson was typing and someone said "Hey, wanna go grab a beer?" and he said "Hang on, I just have to wrap up this book real quick" which is what it read as... a hurried end to a plot-line with which he'd grown tired.
Mr. Patterson, I respect you as a writer, but honestly, what we want is quality, not quantity. Take a year off and give us a really good Alex Cross novel we can believe in again. We know you have it in you.