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I, Alex Cross Hardcover – November 16, 2009
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
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James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell: Author One-on-One
In this Amazon exclusive, we brought together blockbuster authors James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell and asked them to interview each other. Find out what two of the top authors of their genres have to say about their characters, writing process, and more.
Patricia Cornwell is the former Director of Applied Forensic Science at the National Forensic Academy, and a member of the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital's National Council, where she is an advocate for psychiatric research. She is the author of sixteen previous Kay Scarpetta mysteries, five non-Scarpetta novels (including At Risk), and Portrait of a Killer. Read on to see Patricia Cornwell's questions for James Patterson, or turn the tables to see what Patterson asked Cornwell.
Cornwell: James, your questions were so good, I'm going to ask you similar ones. Let's start with why you write? Do you love it or love having done it? What motivates you?
Patterson: I truly love writing. I sometimes think about my grandfather when I reflect on this. When I was a boy, I lived in a town on the Hudson River. During the summers, my grandfather would take me once a week on his frozen food and ice cream delivery route. We'd be up at four in the morning packing up the truck, and by five we'd be on our way. Driving a delivery truck isn't the most glamorous job in the world, but every morning, my grandfather would drive over the Storm King Mountain toward West Point, and he'd be singing at the top of his voice. And he told me this: "Jim," he said, "when you grow up, I don't care if you're a truck driver or a famous surgeon—just remember that when you go over the mountain to work in the morning, you've got to be singing." Writing stories keeps me singing. Writing to me isn't work, and I like that a ton.
Cornwell: What is your routine when you're facing your next novel? What is the process like for you, and what is your favorite part of it? Least favorite?
Patterson: I like to have a lot of ideas in the air at one time. I've got around 20 manuscripts sitting in my office right now, in some degree of completion. It's a lot of material, a lot of stories. My least favorite part? Hmm. Maybe sharpening pencils? Actually, I’ve always kind of liked sharpening pencils. I don’t mean to seem too over the top about this, but I really wouldn’t change any of it.
Cornwell: What do you and Alex Cross have in common? How are you different?
Patterson: We're both family-oriented guys. I think it's a real treat to be able to get along with your wife every day, which I do; my wife and I really have trouble being apart for very long. And I think readers will agree Alex is generally doing better in the romance department. One difference between us would be that I'm much more content to sit around and write. I think Alex would get a little bored on a "ride-along" with me.
Cornwell: What inspired you to create Alex Cross?
Patterson: Hardly anyone knows it but when I started the first Alex Cross novel, Alex was a woman named Alexis. After 100 pages or so, I changed the character to Alex. When I was a kid growing up, my grandparents had a small restaurant and the cook was an African-American woman who eventually moved into our house. All through my growing up period I spent a lot of time with this woman's family. They were funny, wise, the food was great, so was the music, and the family is at least part of the inspiration for the Crosses.
Cornwell: What's the one thing a reader has said that you've never forgotten and perhaps found startling?
Patterson: I'm sure you've had this, too, Patricia, but the one comment that gets me every time is hearing people say my books have them reading again. I know sometimes you and I get some heat for being as popular as we are, and are saddled with that old equation that says if you're a bestseller, you must be lowbrow. But I frankly don't think there’s anything more meaningful than hearing that I've turned a person back into a reader (or in the case of younger readers, got them started).
Cornwell: How about you? You're the one with all the movies! Good experience or not?
Patterson: Sounds like we're on the same page there, Patricia. I definitely feel like some past projects didn't quite live up to their potential. And I likewise have hopes for a couple of movies in the works: the third Alex Cross movie, and the very first Maximum Ride movie, which has Avi Arad (producer of Spider Man), Catherine Hardwicke (director of Twilight), and Don Payne (writer for The Simpsons) on board. There's also a very promising TV series based on a new book I've written that's being developed with CBS and Imagine.
From Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Patterson offers nothing new on a theme he himself has already done to death in his 16th novel featuring detective Alex Cross (after Cross Country), in which Cross takes on yet another barbaric serial killer, this one known as Zeus. Word that an estranged 24-year-old niece, Caroline Cross, has been murdered disturbs Cross's birthday party. To make that horror even worse, the killer fed Caroline's body through a wood chipper. Cross soon discovers that Caroline supported herself as a high-price escort for Washington, D.C.'s elite, and that other women who served similar clients have turned up missing. Cross's investigation soon attracts the attention of the feds, and he concludes that Zeus is better connected than most of the psychopaths he's brought to justice. A subplot centering on a health threat to another member of Cross's family adds padding. Readers expecting the killer to be identified through insightful profiling will be disappointed.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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As Alex begins to investigate, he learns his niece was mutilated in her death, to the point that she was referred to as "the remains".
At the same time the Secret Service is investigating a possible murderer in the white house somewhere.
The story winds around several murders, mutilation and disappearances of women.
Cross solves the case with a surprise twist,and has a surprise of his own after the case is closed.
The whole business about the white house coverup and all that, I really had a hard time buying to be honest. It seems pretty far over-the-top to me. I actually like the ending (including the epilogue) but it still seemed like there were a lot of loose ends and the story just came to an abrupt end (a problem with several of Patterson's books). Mainly though I had a problem with the story and the Alex Cross character. Every bit of evidence that Alex Cross got, was handed to him by somebody else. He basically didn't do anything in this story other than serve as kind of a "message boy". I was left wondering why the Alex Cross character really even mattered in this story. It probably would have been a much better story had it been told from the standpoint of any number of the other characters, and Alex Cross were treated like the "bit part" that it really was.
As far as the audiobook goes, it was very well read and produced. The main reader was excellent, and they had some other voices at key moments which greatly added to the experience.
Alex is determined to find whoever is responsible for his neice's murder.
A mysterious man, know only as Zeus, is suspected but the problem lies in the fact that nobody knows who Zeus is. No one has ever seen his face...well those who have end up dead. Who is this mysterious man? Could he be a powerful figure? CIA, FBI, Secret Service??? The closer Alex gets to an answer more and more people either disappear or wind up dead.
I, Alex Cross by James Patterson started of with one hell of a start.. one that makes your mouth drop in shock. As always James Patterson delivers another fast-paced read that has you on the edge of your seat, trying to figure out who the bad guy is. I really enjoyed this novel. A very good read!
I've read amost all of Patterson's books; this will be the last. This book's only distinction was in the grisly nature of the crime; the plot was thin, badly-developed, ended as though he ran out of typing paper, and showed the writing style of a rank amateur.
WIthin the first 30 pages I found myself thinking that there was no proper development in the book; even though I already knew Cross' relationship with his grandmother, the book fell flat on making me feel it. Not only that, but I got the impression that Patterson threw this weak story into a word-processor, spliced in a few family scenes, and collected his fat paycheck. It's a shame that people will buy a book like this without reading a review--that's what I did. Had I known, I would avoided this, relegating it to the pile where "The Lost Symbol" is festering at this very minute.
So the plot cruises along, thinly populated with character development (and that's being generous)--and all of a sudden, the entire case is busted wide open in a blink of an eye. Stupid ending to a terrible book.
A bad book like this not only leaves me unsatisfied, but angry that I wasted time getting to what I hoped would be a logical and satisfactory conclusion. Instead, the book ended more abruptly than a car crash. To add insult to injury, they padded the book's puny size by using paper the thickness of tank armor and adding a teaser for yet another crummy book. The difference this time is that not only will I never buy another Patterson book, but will discourage others from doing so as well.
Patterson needs to send me my money back.