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Alex Cross Must Die

Review

Alex Cross Must Die

Once upon a time, the Alex Cross thrillers had titles that sprang directly from popular nursery rhymes. The stories typically dealt with Detective Cross matching wits with one or more devious serial killers.

My, how times have changed. The more recent Cross novels have had much higher stakes, and the latest release, ALEX CROSS MUST DIE, features one of the most violent acts that James Patterson has ever written about. The opening sequence finds an ex-military type riding around Washington, DC with some heavy artillery. The night ends with an American Airlines jet being downed by a sub-machine gun, taking the lives of over 100 innocent people.

"Patterson has some surprises in store before everything is wrapped up, and readers will realize that they have not seen the entire picture when it comes to the primary case."

Everyone who is anyone in the area of law enforcement and protection descend on Reagan Airport, including Cross and his partner, John Sampson. Their boss, Ned Mahoney, puts them directly on this case as a top priority. This is especially taxing because the two have been chasing down the Dead Hours Killer, a serial murderer who continues to strike as  attention shifts to the aviation tragedy. Cross and Sampson have been in the game long enough to be able to juggle these responsibilities, but never before have they faced such a desperate need to bring the guilty party forward.

As is customary now in this series, we are faced with a parallel narrative featuring an investigation with which Alex’s wife, Bree, is involved. A colleague of her boss has gone missing, and they learn that she was on the plane that was felled. Now, Bree just has to figure out why and see where her case might cross paths with the one that her husband is working.

Cross and Sampson follow up leads on a number of angry, highly weaponized individuals in the DC area who could have been responsible for the crash, but nothing ends up going anywhere. It becomes obvious that the person they should be looking at is Marion Davis, a high school football coach and former NFL player who later left for the military. When they eventually reach him, they find someone who not only had the military know-how to pull off this stunt, but also was a failed pilot who was dropped from consideration by American Airlines due to drunkenness.

Davis is brought in for questioning, and there is some local resistance in his favor, particularly Fiona Plum, a teacher who has a blind spot for him and even finds an attorney to represent him. From what we have been shown up to this point, it seems that Fiona may be in for a rude awakening.

All of this goes on in conjunction with the Dead Hours case, which really upsets the neighborhood once a popular teacher becomes one of his victims. I have never seen Cross more torn or out of sorts, but he remains confident in his ability to right the ship in both investigations.

Patterson has some surprises in store before everything is wrapped up, and readers will realize that they have not seen the entire picture when it comes to the primary case. I have noticed that Sampson has continued to emerge as a key player in this series and was pleased to learn in a preview at the back of the book that the next Cross novel will be called an Alex Cross AND John Sampson thriller. Way to go, Sampson!

Reviewed by Ray Palen on November 22, 2023

Alex Cross Must Die
by James Patterson

  • Publication Date: November 20, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 0316402486
  • ISBN-13: 9780316402484