Forensic psychologist Alex Cross’s storied career in private practice, with the FBI and as a Washington, D.C., cop has brought him into contact with all kinds of seriously disturbed killers, but his 12th outing from bestseller Patterson (after 2005’s Mary, Mary) may be the ultimate in lunatic deadliness. Beginning with a flashback to the murder of Cross’s wife, Maria, Patterson quickly introduces Michael Sullivan (aka the Butcher of Sligo). What follows is a frenetically paced series of brutal rapes and killings by Sullivan, once employed by the mob as a freelancer and now at war with them. Cross juggles being a single parent and being involved in the dangerous game of tracking serial killers until he finally decides to give it up for his family. Needless to say, he’s drawn back into the game when it promises a chance of finding Maria’s killer. Cross’s competence and vulnerability make a stark contrast with Sullivan’s sadistic mutilations and psychological manipulations of his victims. Fans know that Cross will survive, but at what cost?
I didn’t actually mind this book as much as I have some of the last ones. The opening is a flashback of Alex’s life with his first wife, Maria. It was nice to uncover some of the stuff about Maria and her murder. For example, she was pregnant with their third child at the time of her death and her death was the result of a case he and Sampson were working on at the time.
Now, thirteen laters, Alex finds himself on the trail of a hitman called, The Butcher, whom he believes is Maria’s killer. Still in business, The Butcher manages to rack up a few bodies in this novel before his final showdown with Alex. As per usual, Alex is injured (and in this case, nearly dies), but he winds up surviving the incident. After all is said and done, Sampson admits that he uncovered the identity of Maria’s killer years earlier and he killed him, in order to save Alex from having to do it.
It’s a nice way to tie in Alex’s past with his present. It also finally gives some insight to Alex’s motivations. Though he’s now working strictly as a private practice psychologist and he has more free time for his family, he still finds himself unable to stay away from police work. Honestly, I felt his quitting the FBI was a smart move, but I don’t think it was fair of Nana Mama to give him the ultimatum and I think he should have returned as a detective.
Even though I enjoyed this book more than the last few, I am still annoyed by Alex being in LUV (because let’s face it, the man doesn’t know what love is) with Kayla after just a few weeks of dating. In fact, this man does nothing but think about falling in love. He’s in love with the idea of being in love and it’s pathetic when female characters are like that and even more so when male characters are. Not everything in life has to be about finding “The One” and in this particular book, I felt the whole thing was just inappropriate.