As a fictional character created by James Patterson, Detective Alex Cross is a protagonist psychologist/detective that resides in Washington DC. To make matters even more challenging, Alex is a widowed father left with two children (Janelle and Damon) raised in the home by his grandmother, referred to as Nana Mama.
The series of Alex Cross novels are some of James Patterson’s best work. The work is written in first person and narrated by Alex Cross who tends to reverse the point of view to look at the world through the villain’s eyes. There are 20 novels in the entire series with a new one (Cross My Heart) about to be released in the latter part of 2013. This is a strong indicator that the series is far from being over.
The Character Alex Cross
As the protagonist in every novel in the series, the first novel of Alex Cross has him alone after his wife Maria met her demise by an assassin. He eventually meets Christina, falls in love and has his third child Alex Junior (Ali). Throughout the entire series, he is typically at odds against some criminal threat while living and working in Washington DC. At some point, Christina fears for her life and leaves.
The novels are full of tension. However, it is Alex’s desire to remain close to his family even through its challenges. After Christina’s departure, he begins to date again even though women often die or leave him over the arc of the entire series. At some point, he finally comes face-to-face with the individual that murdered the mother of his first two children. At the pinnacle of the story, Alex is doing everything in his power to take the man out, only to have that happen by John Sampson, his best friend. It was this gallant action of his best friend that helped Alex avoid wrapping himself up in a revenge killing.
With his wife’s murder being solved, he can now move forward and find the peace he so desperately wants. In later novels, he begins a new relationship and finally marries Bree Stone, only to find he has a new nemesis out to get him. Alex and Bree adopt a girl found by Nana Mama, only to have her murdered in a subsequent novel. He avenges the murder and comes to terms with whether or not he should continue living the life of a detective. The series is far from over, as it becomes more complex in dealing with actions of the past with new archenemies continuing to arise.
Film Adaptations and Book Releases
In total, the Alex Cross series has had three theatrical film releases based on the books. This includes Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls and the newly released Cross. In addition, the entire book series has been released in both hardcover and paperback. There are even some that have been released as an audio book. The hardback covers tend to reach approximately 300 pages. The later novels have been upwards of closer to 400 pages long.
In all, the novels Double Cross with I and Alex Cross have been considered the best books in the series. The next remaining novels in the top 10 include:
- Alex Cross, Run
- Cross Fire
- Roses Are Red
- Pop Goes the Weasel
- Violets Are Blue
- Along Came a Spider
- Cat and Mouse
- Mary, Mary
The original series began in the early 1990s, and continues through the 2010s. In nearly every novel, Alex Cross needs to use his forensic psychology skills as a way to solve the murders. However, he typically needs to do this while on the run, in an attempt to stay away from the antagonist in the story-line.
Patterson is a genius in that he writes an entire story that runs from beginning to end inside every novel, instead of continuing it on as a long series that lasts 20 books or more. This makes each novel riveting in its own right. However, there is a thread that follows through every novel in that Dr. Alex Cross continues to be highly specialized in forensic psychology. He works directly with the Washington DC Police Department before becoming an FBI senior agent.
One of the most intriguing components of the Alex Cross novel series is how Patterson so brilliantly switches the point of view or perspective of the reader over and again. Almost instinctively, the readers view the world as the detective only to be switched to the killer and back again. The entire series is written in first-person style with a point of view that is up close and personal. However, when Patterson writes other characters, he chooses to use third person.
Patterson continues to be brilliant when developing the suspenseful Alex Cross novels with plot lines that are written with the utmost precision. However, he does this with a delicate touch that pulls the reader into the story line.
Fleming, Mike (August 18, 2010). “Idris Elba Is New Alex Cross In Relaunched James Patterson Film Franchise”