Its such a pleasure when your favorite author returns to form. And thats the case with James Patterson in Mary Mary. The last few novels from the prolific author were disappointments as he ventured into subjects like international politics, military and even vampire culture. The large canvases seemed have diluted his skill and the novels were almost bland. But he is back in familiar territory here and proves that he still hasn't lost his touch. Or atleast that he has regained it.
Alex Cross is on a long-due vacation in Disneyland with his family when he is asked to "take a look" at a case in Hollywood. A woman calling herself Mary Smith is killing prominent personalities in the movie industry while revealing details of her murders in lengthy emails to a local LA Times reporter. While Alex Cross tries to catch Mary, he also has to fight a custody battle with his ex-wife Christine for their youngest son.
The previous novels, like London Bridges, saw Alex Cross turn into James Bond as he went from place to place, seeking out megalomaniacal villains like The Wolf. But in Mary Mary, he goes back to basics, staying local and going after a serial killer with a more modest goal. Thats exactly what was needed to pick the series up.
A key plot point, which is not known to Cross and other detectives, is revealed to us very soon because of a first-person narrative. That was a little disappointing. But Patterson adds another first-person narrative and this complicates matters enough to keep the suspense going. These three threads are woven together nicely in the end. Though there are only a small number of characters, Patterson still manages to spring a surprise with the killer's identity. And though the motive seems a bit too complicated, it leaves no loose ends.
As always, Cross' family takes up too many pages. They tend to be repetitive as almost every book tells us what a great and strong woman his grandmother Nana is and how much he loves his children. They are little more than speedbumps to the main story. But its clear Patterson wants to keep Cross' love life in a constant state of flux and so it takes another surprising turn here.
Welcome back Patterson!