I am a fan of the Alex Cross mystery-thrillers by James Patterson and was anxious to read his newest addition to the series. I finished it last night and these comments come after sleeping on it. The first two acts are fantastic – perhaps, Patterson’s very best. The third and final act, however, ends mid-stream and will frustrate and annoy most readers.
Followers of the Alex Cross stories know the detective well, along with his grandmother, wife and children. We know how smart, clever and analytic he is and how much his wife contributes to the success of his work which is, not coincidentally, hers as well. (They are both police detectives in Washington, DC.) We know how much he loves his family. This story is quite good and very engaging. Until, that is, the final scene where the story abruptly stops short of resolution.
It is, essentially two-thirds of a novel. Patterson provides a brief Afterword that does not directly address this. It left me cold.
Why would an accomplished author drop the ball mid-stream?
The most common reasons is that the author has dug himself a narrative hole so deep that it would take another entire novel to meaningfully resolve the story. I expect that this has happened in “Cross MY Heart.” In his afterword, Patterson assures us that there will be another Alex Cross story and hopes we will read it. I might – but, I might not. When a person spends the time and thought to read through 400+ pages, it seems reasonable to expect, at least, a moderately developed resolution – a dénouement, as writers like to call it. IN this instance, Patterson lets his readers down.
It seems that well-known and much-published writers fail, on occasion, to live up to their own earned reputation. Here, Patterson has failed.
Simply put, a good story deserves a good ending and Patterson has left us hanging; Not with anticipation but with disappointment.