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Mary, Mary - James Patterson

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

WITH James Patterson’s crime thriller Mary, Mary now available in paperback, fans of Alex Cross are in for a treat. And for those unfamiliar with the super slick FBI agent, there’s never been a better time to discover the secret of his appeal.

In this, the 11th Alex Cross novel, the action takes place mainly in Los Angeles where a series of high-profile murders shocks the local community. And it’s Alex, who just happens to be on vacation in sunny California, who’s called in to assist the LAPD.

As you would expect, the crimes take precedence though not at the expense of Alex’s private life. His custody battle for little Alex, for instance, not to mention his relationships with Jamilla, Jeanne and Kayla, not only create a necessary diversion but also establish Alex’s place in society.

However, it’s Mary Smith who takes up most of Alex’s time, for it’s Mary who sends chilling e-mails to the Los Angeles Times describing each murder in vivid detail. The question is: can Alex, with his criminal psychologist’s mind, discover her true identity before more lives are lost?

Of course he can but it’s for you to find out how. Just don’t expect an easy ride.

The pace is fast, the chapters short and pithy, yet the plot is as convoluted as a coiled cobra and just as unpredictable.

And although in style Patterson can’t compete with the celebrated author’s of so-called ‘classics’, (as I’m sure he’d be the first to admit), he most definitely has a gift for story telling – one that’s guaranteed to keep the pages turning.

Just one small quibble and really it’s no fault of Patterson’s unless, of course, you count his assumption that we’re all already familiar with Alex’s appearance.

His failure to elaborate further or to recap even, does mean that for me at least, Alex is and probably always will be, Morgan Freeman, the Hollywood actor who took on the detective’s mantle in the film adaptations of two earlier novels.

That said, Mary, Mary is a highly entertaining read. Probably instantly forgettable but jolly good while it lasts.