Alex Cross #22: Hope to Die by James Patterson (Century)

Detective Alex Cross is being stalked by a psychotic genius, forced to play the deadliest game of his career. Cross’s family – his loving wife Bree, the wise and lively Nana Mama, and his precious children–have been ripped away. Terrified and desperate, Cross must give this mad man what he wants if he has any chance of saving the most important people in his life. The stakes have never been higher: What will Cross sacrifice to save the ones he loves?

Widely praised by the greatest crime and thriller writers of our time, Cross My Heart set a jaw-dropping story in motion. Hope to Die propels Alex Cross’s greatest challenge to its astonishing finish, proving why Jeffery Deaver says “nobody does it better” than James Patterson.

[Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads]

I’ve been reading the Alex Cross series for a while now, and as it happens, have only missed five out of twenty two at least going what I can remember registering on Goodreads, including the latest Cross Justice. The others are Violets Are Blue, Four Blind Mice, The Big Bad Wolf, London Bridges, so it’s safe to say that I’m a big fan of the series even if the more recent entries have been hit and miss in places. Thankfully though Hope to Die was a return to form for the series after the OK instalment of Cross My Heart, delivering another nonstop action packed read from the master of creating a fast-paced novel, literally, one thing that’s common about all of Patterson’s many, many books is that they’re never slow, and Hope to Die is no exception.

Following the cliffhanger that was met with mixed receptions at the end of Cross My Heart Alex Cross’s life is collapsing around him. The Detective is missing his Wife, Bree, who’s been kidnapped by a psychotic assassin along with Nana Mama and his children. If he’s to get his family back Alex may be forced to play by the killer’s own rules, and what follows is an incredibly intense game of cat and mouse that nearly tips Alex over the edge. He’s not alone though, and has support from Ava, John Sampson and his allies in the FBI, making the book a compelling and engaging read. It helps that the antagonist is also in true Patterson style, pulled off well as incredibly evil and feels refreshingly memorable.

There are a few bits and pieces here that don’t work, with character inclusions that could have been avoided, but on the whole Hope to Die is a strong read. The climax of the book is exciting and rewards readers who didn’t jump ship with Cross My Heart, like a few people in the Goodreads reviews section said that they were going to do, and Patterson finds a way of pulling back readers who had a waning interest in the series. If you haven’t read at least one Alex Cross novel and you’re a crime fan then you’re missing out on something really awesome – by and large they can be read as standalones, but there are some that interlink and this one follows on from the end of Cross My Heart very well, so you’re better off going back a few before you get to this one.

As usual when writing a review for an Alex Cross novel, or any series that has had more than five or so entries, it’s difficult to try and come up with something new to say that hasn’t already been said before, and that’s more the case than ever with Hope to Die. Chances are if you’re a Patterson fan you’ll have read this one already and if not you’re not going to read it, but on the whole, the book still remains an enjoyable read and as usual with this series, a super quick one.

VERDICT: 8/10

The Alex Cross Novels in Order: Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls, Jack & Jill, Cat and Mouse, Pop Goes the Weasel, Roses are Red, Violets Are Blue, Four Blind Mice, The Big Bad Wolf, London Bridges, Mary, Mary, Cross, Double Cross, Cross Country, Alex Cross’s Trial, I, Alex Cross, Cross Fire, Kill Alex Cross, Merry Christmas, Alex Cross, Alex Cross, Run, Cross My Heart, Hope to Die, Cross Justice

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