The People vs Alex Cross by James Patterson

Erich Mayer

Suspense and thrillers are a popular genre but they are not to everyone’s taste.
The People vs Alex Cross by James Patterson

Book cover image: The People vs Alex Cross by James Patterson.

James Patterson has achieved more than ten million ebook sales. He earned the Guinness World Record for the ‘Most Entries on The New York Times Best-Seller List’. Some years ago it was estimated that one out of every four of all hardcover suspense/thriller novels sold was written by James Patterson. And at least 25 books featuring Alex Cross have been published since Along Came a Spider in 1983. So is there any point in reviewing Patterson’s latest , The People vs Alex Cross?

For Patterson aficionados and Alex Cross followers who will buy and read this book regardless of the blurbs on the back cover or the comments of this or any other critic – this review is superfluous. The only decision such readers will make is which to buy: the hardcover, the softcover or the ebook. But for those who have not yet explored what Patterson has to offer, this review may be helpful.

While suspense/thrillers are a popular genre, they are not to everyone’s taste. However the wide readership Patterson commands means there is more to his books than just exciting page-turning stories. His popular character, Dr Alex Cross, has a family life that has its ups and downs. Cross himself is not always truthful. He has the qualifications and skills of a psychological counsellor. He is a first-class, courageous and experienced detective. He is a loving father who finds time for his children. So when he is accused of killing unarmed assailants, it leads to the trial that gives the book its title and elevates it to more than just another thriller. So it might be worth a glance or two by those not normally attracted to this genre.

On the other hand, some of the villains in The People vs Alex Cross are evil beyond belief, and to that extent this book is a borderline horror story. So perhaps it should recommend itself to horror story readers who don’t mind a good legal stoush rather than to those readers who enjoy a good trial but may recoil from reading about violent and sadistic crime.

A problem Patterson shares with other crime writers who have produced heroes from book to book is that his readership might rebel should Alex Cross be killed or decide to retire. Arthur Conan Doyle learned that lesson when he killed Sherlock Holmes and had to bring him back to life. Ian Rankin similarly felt compelled to bring Rebus out of retirement. So while the reader is entitled to suspect that Alex Cross may survive the events of The People vs Alex Cross, whether that is the case can only be discovered by reading the book.

Rating: 3 ½ stars out of 5

The People vs Alex Cross by James Patterson

Century | Penguin
Published 2nd November 2017
432 Pages
162mm x 240mm x 38mm

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Erich Mayer is a retired company director and former organic walnut farmer. He now edits the blog