Well, to begin with, I was a little shocked by the violent imagery and descriptions of what happens/has happened to the victims in the book. Patterson does a good job of cutting the description off before the violence simply becomes gratuitous, but if you're one that's bothered by this, then don't let yourself get sucked in by his suspenseful plot and astounding knowledge of criminal investigation procedure. Once you read through the first few chapters (which are extremely short and very numerous, a style I've never encountered before), you'll be helplessly hooked. And his descriptions of the setting, the houses, and the places where everything happens? Awe-striking. I particularly remember a phrase from the beginning, as a wounded girl flees through a forest, and he writes "The trees were shadows." Trust me, it's even better in context.
Now, I can't neglect the plot, but I'll try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible. A sign of good editing by Patterson is the fact that he introduces the evidence just a little at a time, making sure that any connected incidents are described thoroughly, but that the thread isn't obvious. This isn't an Agatha Christie novel that you can start guessing the end from the beginning, or an "ABC family mystery show", where everyone but the kids in the show knows who the killer is. Introducing from the beginning the murder of Cross's niece Caroline, the novel leads the reader alongside Cross to discover things while he discovers them himself.
With the bulk of the action taking place among ridiculously wealthy businessmen and top detectives and FBI personnel, another part of the novel's allure is the high-stakes world of white-collar crime and punishment, a world also portrayed well by John Grisham. Unlike Grisham's novels, the main character is not a primped and polished white lawyer, but a down-to-earth black detective, with children, a mother, and a girlfriend to look after. Having made the novel more realistic in this way, the character Alex Cross is more developed than may be expected, and the reader sees both his family and professional life side by side. The realistic background of this main character only makes the reader grow more nervous as he plunges into danger, and the detail of realism in portraying his life also accents the impressively realistic portrayal of police procedure in taking down organized criminals. This book isn't one full of uncontrolled mayhem that is excused because the good guys are behind it. Instead, it illuminates to the reader the nature of interdepartmental communication and coordination, bending the rules as little as possible, which left me much more impressed by Mr, Patterson's skill in weaving the whole story together without it falling apart.
All in all, I found the novel thoroughly impressive, and suspenseful right up to the last page, with a satisfying and believable end.
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