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Friday, September 12, 2008

Violets Are Blue

**½ Violets Are Blue by James Patterson. Mystery.

After reading Roses Are Red (#34), I hunted down this sequel because of the cliffhanger about the Mastermind. It's been in my TBR pile for a while.

We do find out who the Mastermind is, but.... But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Alex Cross (who sounds like Morgan Freeman in my head) is a Washington DC police detective. A series of gruesome murders in which the victims have been bitten and their blood drained has him bouncing around the country--east coast, west coast, New Orleans, and working with the FBI and local cops in the other places.

Punctuating the investigation are phone calls from The Mastermind, who always seems to know what Cross is doing and where he is; and complaints from Nana that he's not spending enough time with his children.

About a third of the way through the book, we find out who's doing the killing, and from then on, it's just a matter of sitting back and watching Cross & co.'s mostly fruitless quest to find the killer. Or watching him dither on about whether or not he's interested in a female cop he meets on the quest. Or get all panicky about The Mastermind, then do pretty much nothing about it.

I don't remember the previous book feeling quite this aimless. Part of the problem, I think, is that the two cases: the vampire murders and The Mastermind have nothing to do with each other. In Roses Are Red, if I remember correctly, The Mastermind engineered quite a lot of the events. Here, he's relegated to the sidelines and annoying phone calls.

I also had trouble connecting with Alex Cross. He's touted throughout the story as a particularly insightful detective, but we don't see any evidence of that. And his love life is especially confusing. He has an ex-wife who divorced him because of his workaholic tendencies, but she left their infant son with him? He talks himself out of dating a fellow cop he's attracted to; instead he dates a woman who gets totally drunk, demands sex, then gets angry when he won't put out. I just couldn't sympathize. And part of that was because he didn't seem to care one way or the other anyway.

The vampire murder plot wasn't bad, though it was a little cluttered. And the climax of that plot was suspenseful and exciting. However, there was still the Mastermind plot to wind up, and that was anticlimactic, particularly since I'd already figured out who it was.

I liked Violets Are Blue the least of the three James Patterson books I've read, but it's not changing my mind about the author. Before reading it, I'd pick up his books if I found them used. I still will.

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How odd, I just finished reading Kiss the Girls, another Alex Cross mystery, about 10 minutes ago. It was very creepy but not overly wonderful storytelling. The are they/aren't they romantic subplot was a bit strained and detracted from the overall mystery. In it though, Alex had a dead wife who'd left him with two children, not an ex and an infant. Either I read it out of order and missed something major or else that's some very poor editing...
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