Along Came A Spider, by James Patterson

My Copy: 0446364193 (image from goodreads.com)

I admit, I watched the movie before I knew there was a book, and believe me, I think the book was better in most respects. Hell, the movie is barely anything like the book!

So, I feel relieved having finally read this book cover to cover.

Along Came a Spider is the first of the Alex Cross books, and it gives a pretty good introduction to the character. You’re dropped into the middle of his life, a life where he has two kids at home, his wife’s dead, his brother’s a cop and partner…and they get calls about some grisly murders.

The case is abruptly pushed to the backburner, however, when two kids from a prestigious private school are kidnapped by a teacher, one the son of the Treasury secretary, the other a famous actress’ daughter. The teacher is Gary Soneji, who has dreamed his whole life of committing the crime of the century, and wants to be somebody. But even with his perfect plan, something has gone wrong.

Alex Cross ends up having to assist the FBI and Secret Service on the case and when one of the kids is found dead and things get worse, he just can’t let it go. Neither can Jezzie Flanagan, the woman in charge of the Secret Service detail for the kids.

I don’t like spoilers so I don’t want to give much of it away. I will say that I had to keep guessing as to what was going to happen next. I couldn’t believe how strange and complex the case turned out to be…but it’s a pretty damned good one. Much better than the movie. Much.

I like Alex Cross. I really do. He’s a no-nonsense person who loves his kids, does his best work and isn’t afraid to risk being labeled a non-player if it means helping people like he’s supposed to. There wasn’t as much psychology as I thought there’d be, but he was instrumental in finding important elements in Soneji’s case. I liked that he wanted to use his mind and not just make things go away, as some higher-ups eventually tried to do.

It’s a great story, and I’m so glad I read it. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to the ransom money, to Gary Soneji, and the remaining kid. I wanted to know how it was supposed to work out, that there had to be some light at the end of this tunnel.

It’s not depressing, just complex, tense, and yes–suspense! It did slow down a bit here and there (it’s a 500 page book, for crying out loud), but the moments were well-positioned to give you a breather and some insight…and maybe make you read it again so you could get a better grasp of the plot twists and what might help you figure it out sooner.

Good suspense novel, worth a read if you have time for a 500-pager.

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