Tag Archives: thriller

James Patterson – Double Cross

There’s a pair of serial killers committing murders all over Washington, and another one who has escaped from a supermaximum-security prison, and is on his way to wreak his terrible and long-plotted revenge on Alex Cross, the man who put him behind bars four years ago. Cross is an earnest psychologist, a former police and FBI profiler whose girlfriend Bree Stone is also the lead detective on the serial killer case.

But that’s enough serious consideration for a book this bad. Supermaximum-security prisons mean convicted killers have unrestricted, completely private access to visitors, and neither party is searched before of after? O RLY? And what’s the opposite of a thriller? A duller? How can a book this fast-paced be so boring?

Patterson’s habit of using a chapter for each scene, with rarely more than four pages of large, loosely spaced type per chapter, makes the pages fly by, but at the cost of excluding any character development beyond the strictly superficial. The action (what little of it there is) is bitty and fragmented, with all opportunity for tension drained by the urgent need to move on to the next exclamation mark! The villains are so cartoonish, they all but cackle and rub their hands in glee at how clever they are.

In fact, one of the last pages sees super-villain Kyle Craig pull the classic trick of pretending to be dead…then jumping up and showing his bullet-proof vest! Excuse the spoiler, but I just have to share this little gem:

Kyle started to back away from us. Then he smiled and said, “Oh, what the hell! Sorry, Alex!”

He fired in Bree’s direction — twice — and purposely missed again. Then he laughed and ran down the alley, disappearing around the first corner, still laughing.

The Mastermind.

Oooh, what a bad man! Do you think he’ll be back some day with a plan dastardly enough to pad out another 450 pages of this drivel? Let me think… Hmm, probably. And I fully expect it to be just as mind-suckingly dreadful as this one. Try to avoid it, too!

Michael Marshall – The Intruders

Although it is not immediately obvious, The Intruders is set in the same world as Marshall’s Straw Men series—there’s a tiny reference to the events at the end of Blood Of Angels, but it’s easy to miss. The Straw Men don’t play any part in this book; instead, there’s an entirely different shadowy ancient organization pulling strings and manipulating events. Michael Marshall has always had a knack for evoking the unseen and the unsettling. If you like your thrillers with a dose of the supernatural thrown in, this will be up your street.

One of the things I liked most about The Intruders was the way Marshall ends the book: rather than leave you breathless with an explosive climax and an abrupt finale, he takes the time to explore the aftermath, and tie up some loose ends while unravelling certain others. There is something very finely judged about it, and it left me with a lasting sense of depth to the world just at the point when I was ready to leave it behind.