Tuesday, February 03, 2015

James Patterson's Hope to Die ~ Reviewed

By James Patterson
Published by Little, Brown and Company
Release date: Nov. 2014
400 pages
ISBN: 978-0316210966

Back cover:

How hard is it to imagine a noble detective brought low by the horrors of his job? How hard to imagine a detective so beaten down that he finds life meaningless… and becomes a perfect killer himself? That’s not hard to imagine at all, now is it?

Alex Cross is legendary as Washington, DC’s top detective, a man who has devoted his life to protecting others. With unwavering strength and courage, Cross handles the city’s most complex and shocking cases. But none of the atrocities he’s seen has prepared him for the sight of a homicide detective at his own front door. 

Alex Cross’s family has been abducted—and a madman named Theirry Mulch is threatening to kill them one by one. Blinded by rage and gripped with fear, Cross would do anything to have Bree, Nana Mama, and his beautiful children back home. But Mulch doesn’t care about money or mercy. He is obsessed with studying the psychology behind the perfect criminal. As Cross races to save his family, he realizes a deep and terrifying truth: Theirry Mulch doesn’t want to become the perfect killer—he wants to create one. 

And he’s picked Detective Alex Cross to be the guinea pig in his ruthless experiment of good versus evil. 

I love reading novels written by today’s greatest authors. Regardless of how I feel about Born to Die, James Patterson can write. (Although some say this novel was co-written. I couldn’t see any evidence of this, however.) 

There are two skills Patterson does well and consistently, and these skills were executed with enough skill that I continued reading the novel long into the night, even when I found certain aspects of the plot completely unbelievable. In other words, my experience of the story was so positive, I offered grace on areas I found less appealing. Those two skills were: In absolutely every scene, in fact, I believe every page, Patterson created a sense of urgency and incredibly high stakes. Life or death stakes. 

He starts the novel at the book signing of a crime writer, introducing us to an atrocious homicide case that occurred in Omaha, NE. Through this, we get a creepy sense, an almost indiscernible hint, of impeding danger. This foreshadowing gripped me immediately, giving my imagination free-range to work itself—and Patterson’s characters—into quite a mess. Not that they needed my help in that regard. This was one tense novel, with dead bodies popping up all over the place! The writing was tight, the various subplots converged together necessarily, and the various threads were all neatly tied by the end. 

All in all a great book… sort of.

Minus the improbability of much of it. Without giving too much a way, there were a few times when I put the book down, scratched my head (figuratively), and said, “Um… no. That couldn’t happen.” And yet, I continued reading and still greatly enjoyed the story. And perhaps that’s when great writing really shows itself—when the reader, like me, is willing to not only suspend belief but disregard moments of disbelief, in order to remain immersed in the novel. 

If you like mysteries and suspense and don’t mind a bit of improbability, you’ll enjoy Born to Die. As for me, I’ll likely read more Patterson books in the future… eventually. 

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

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