James Patterson has struck gold with his mystery/thriller series starring Dr. Alex Cross. Starting with Along Came a Spider and continuing through this effort, London Bridges, Alex has solved crime upon crime and come close to death a number of times. In this installment in the series, Alex is up against two of his worst adversaries: Geoffrey Shafer (better known as the Weasel) and the Wolf (whose true identity no one knows). These two criminals have teamed up to hold four of the largest cities in the world ransom. Unless they pay over a billion dollars and release a number of political prisoners, the Wolf will kill thousands of people in these cities, including Alex’s hometown of Washington, D.C. To prove that he is serious, the Wolf engineers the annihilation of a small desert town, evacuating first to prevent casualties. When this doesn’t get the point across, he blows up the Queensboro Bridge in New York and a bridge in Paris.
Alex is immediately brought in on the case and begins following a number of leads that lead him exactly nowhere. With numerous partners from the United States and various other countries, he desperately works to find the Wolf before their deadline expires and thousand of people die.
With the incredibly short chapters (very few are over two pages) and simple writing, it sometimes feels as if Patterson is writing for young adults. However, that might be why his book are so successful—they don’t take long to read, and there’s really not much thought that needs to be put into them. While this might appeal to people who don’t normally read, it probably won’t sit that well with seasoned thriller readers who need a bit more to hold their interest.
In addition to the writing style, Patterson continues to shoot himself in the foot by making Alex less and like likeable with each new book. Although every character (including Alex himself) seems to think a whole lot of him, Alex is a bad father and really not that great as a detective. After putting his children and himself in harm’s way in nearly every book, it becomes quite tiresome when Alex facetiously questions his career choices as we know he’s going to do the exact same thing in the next book.
Add to this a few unbelievable leaps in the investigation and a confusing, poorly written ending, and you’ve got a book that ends up below average and does nothing to redeem Patterson’s reputation as of late. Not recommended to anyone but Patterson’s most diehard fans.