5 stars out of 5
Woo hoo - another winner in the series featuring police psychologist Dr. Alex Cross! It's the 24th, for the record, and it carries on the series tradition in fine style with almost nonstop action and a plot that touches on issues in today's news.
At the outset, readers learn that a psycho on a fast motorcycle is getting his (or her) kicks out of gunning down drivers on secluded highways near Washington, D.C. Then comes the unthinkable: The department's chief of detectives - Alex's friend and mentor of his wife, Bree - is shot and killed on the streets of town. Both Alex and Bree are called in to investigate, and almost in a flash comes another puzzling case; this time, it's the mass murder of workers in a clandestine meth lab located in an abandoned factory building. Nothing's been taken, and zero clues are left at the scene; clearly, this is the work of professionals.
But professional what? Could they be from the ranks of organized crime who are trying to get rid of the competition? Are they mercenaries hired to do the job for some other unknown purpose? Could the killings here be in any way related to the motorcycle drive-by and murder of one of the department's own? As the investigation gets going, it's clear that someone needs to take charge, replacing the murdered chief of detectives. Alex gets tapped but isn't interested - and the job goes to his capable wife, Bree. Now, she's technically Alex's boss, and it's going to be tough to keep public and private lives separate, especially when they don't see eye to eye on what direction to take next.
Meantime, all the other usual suspects - meaning lovable family members like the indefatigable, live-in Nana Mama (Alex's grandmother) and three uber-talented, almost-grown kids - are woven into chapters here and there with the effect of lightening the mood. There's a surprise ending that comes against all odds, but it should make for an interesting next go-round. Bring it on!
Cross the Line by James Patterson (Little, Brown and Co., November 2016); 401 pp.