Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Mice make me Cross

Title: Four Blind Mice
Author: James Patterson
Bookmark: business card from the used book store where I got the book

I walked into the book store with the intent to find something to keep me entertained on my grossly overpriced Thanksgiving flights, and in that I guess I succeeded. It gave me something to do, and I finished it a day or so after arriving at Dad's place. I wasn't satisfied or impressed, but I was occupied.

Alex Cross is the protagonist of a lot of Patterson's books (in the latest, he even makes it into the title), and two movies (Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider). I figured it was about time for me to check it out--the movies were decent, as I remember, and I dig a good thriller. The downside of the movies is that it took me a few chapters to not hear the first-person narrative in Morgan Freeman's voice. Later on, I tried to get that back because at least then I'd get to listen to Morgan Freeman. The man could read a tax form and make it sound good.

Cross is aksed by a friend to look into the case of an old army buddy accused of murder. The timing is awful, because he asks him after the trial is over and the man's on death row. They eventually uncover an even larger plot and more veterans who were set up for horrific crimes and sentenced to death, confront the trio of assassins hired to frame the men, and try to find out who the mastermind behind it all really is.

It's entertaining enough to read, but Patterson has a habit of overplaying the "suspense" triggers, trying to build moments bigger than they really are, and makes his villains seem even more despicable than they need to be (I hated them long before they started killing hookers for fun, but that doesn't stop him from setting them loose on various other random victims). It's a little like reading a Dan Brown book, but without all the interesting tidbits on religion, art, and iconology. Then he randomly throws in saccharine family scenes and lovey bits with a character leftove from a previous novel. It's not that I mind the protagonist having a personal life, but the scenes are out of joint with the rest of the book, and--like the rest of the book--overplayed. It feels like he wrote two completely different stories and then alternated chapters to build the final novel. The good news is, I no longer feel compelled to read any more Patterson, so I'll save some money, but the bad news is, I feel like this should have been much better considering how much praise he gets.

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posted by reyn at 9:01 PM


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