Cross Country by James Patterson. Little, Brown (2008).
[release date: November 17, 2008]
I've never read a James Patterson book before, but Cross Country can stand on its own. You don't need to be familiar with previous entries in the Alex Cross series to dive into this one. Aside from an irritating overuse of exclamation points, I enjoyed Patterson's novel despite my aversion to what I consider mass market authors. Alex Cross, Washington DC detective, is on the trail of the Tiger, a Nigerian killer for hire. The trail leads him to Africa and horrors Americans can only imagine. The plot and characters are well developed. I especially appreciated his politically-conscious injection of some of the awful things that are happening on the African continent right now. Cross is a likable character who has become accustomed to seeing violence and murder. Africa has a major impact on him and cracks the wall required of any detective. He witnesses police brutality, the horrors of genocide, and the lawlessness that has taken over some areas as his search takes him from Nigeria, to Sierra Leone, to Darfur, and back to Nigeria. Patterson clearly depicts the vastly different world Cross encounters while he hunts the Tiger and the emotional and physical toll it takes on him. If you are in the mood for a mystery with social relevance, pick up James Patterson's Cross Country.