5 stars out of 5
Of all the book series written (or co-written) by James Patterson, those featuring police psychologist Dr. Alex Cross have remained at the top of my favorites list ever since the very first one (for the record, this is the 23rd). I'm happy to say this one doesn't disappoint. Also for the record, I was happy to see that it doesn't follow what seems to be a trend these days - books that are closer to a novella in length than a full-length book.
As is expected with any Patterson book, the chapters are short - another selling point for me simply because for someone like me with a touch of OCD, it's much easier to get to a stopping place when life intervenes. Put another way, having to close my Kindle in the middle of a chapter is almost as unthinkable as turning off the radio in the middle of my favorite Neil Diamond song (and no, it is not "Sweet Caroline" or "Forever in Blue Jeans").
As for the story, this one takes the good doctor, his lovely policewoman wife Bree, two of their kids and his 90-something Nana Mama to Alex's home town of Starksville, North Carolina (for Alex, it's the first visit in 35 years). His cousin, it seems, is on trial for the rape and murder of a young boy who was one of his students at the local school. Another female relative is defending the young man, who insists he's innocent, but she's having a tough time disproving the prosecution's well-documented evidence.
Tracking down clues takes Alex to Florida, where he gets tangled up in a case involving murders of socialite women - the local police need his help, albeit a bit grudgingly; several chapters flip back and forth from these murders to the goings-on in the Tar Heel State. If all this weren't enough, Alex's daughter Jannie gets off to a running start toward a possible future, all to the delight of her proud father and stepmother. But then Alex and Bree's trains of investigative thought begin to hit pay dirt, threatening the future of the entire family.
The chase also challenges Alex and Nana Mama to confront their pasts, unearthing secrets that, for the most part, went dead many years earlier. The truths include the good, the bad and yes, the pretty hokey, but it all works out in the end and gives readers new and interesting insights into both characters.
Cross Justice by James Patterson (Little, Brown and Co., November 2015); 450 pp.