4 stars out of 5
Countless other reviewers already have let the cat out of the bag, so I won't hesitate to carry it forward: This book is a prequel to another one - and a totally unfinished prequel at that. Needless to say, the bulk of the other reviews I've read have not been kind (and that's putting it mildly). And I get it: Paying $7.50 for a Kindle version (or, at last check, the hardcover price of $14.50) only to find you'll have to buy the next book to learn how this one ends seems tacky, to say the least.
For what it's worth, here's how Patterson explains it at the end of the book:
"Most of us have had at least some taste of tragedy in our lives...this is uncomfortable to experience firsthand - or even secondhand in a novel we've chosen to read...I ask that you understand that I wrote the ending this way because I am trying to be true to Alex - and to you, and to myself...I believe that to be true to life - and to art - one has to accept tragedy as part of it and, from there, allow for the human spirit - be it Alex's, mine, yours - to pull us through."
I'm not sure that's a good enough explanation, but I do know that had the ending (or lack of one) not been what it is, I'd have given it 5 stars. In fact, IMHO it's one of the best in the series about Detective Alex Cross that's come around in a while. Sure, there are a few spots that are sappy and contrived - true of all the books in the series - but all in all the plot held my interest all the way to the end that isn't an end. As Cross and his wife Bree work on separate murder scenes and try to locate a one-time foster child who's gone astray, Cross discovers they're all dealing with a madman who's a master of disguises and is out to destroy everything Cross holds dear - most notably Bree, his nonagenarian Nana Mama and his children - to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there is such a thing as the perfect murder.
Truth is, I'm already pretty sure there've been quite a number of near "perfect" murders over the years. And were it not for the fact that I'll have to buy the next book if I really care to know how this one ends (and I'm not sure I'll do that), this book might have ended up near perfect as well.
Cross My Heart by James Patterson (Little, Brown and Co. November 2013); 450 pp.