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Merry Christmas, Alex Cross    by James Patterson order for
Merry Christmas, Alex Cross
by James Patterson
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

James Patterson fans will find exactly what they have come to expect from the series in Merry Christmas, Alex Cross. In it, the psychologist/detective is called away from his perfect family (earning Nana Mama's ire) repeatedly during the holiday season to deal with a series of escalating crises. Said beloved family now includes his wife Bree.

The first adventure takes Cross and his best friend, John Sampson, to catch a perp ripping off the poor in church on Christmas Eve. Then he's called out to talk down 'a top-flight attorney who'd fallen on hard times' and is threatening to kill his ex-wife, her new husband, her three children, and a neighbor who's a Congressman's wife. Alex negotiates his way into the house, not once but twice, and deals with the crazed man, even offering him a chance at redemption.

Alternating with Alex's exploits, the author takes us home to see how his beloved family copes with his absence. He does get home on Christmas day, but the phone rings again just as they're sitting down to dinner, and this one is the worst of all. FBI special agent Ned Mahoney tells him that his old enemy, Hala Al Dossari, is executing an act of terrorism at Union Station. And this crisis - 'a fanatical woman with access to cyanide, bullets and bombs' - is much tougher to deal with than the previous two.

Statistics tells us that, like Jack Bauer, James Bond etc., Alex Cross would not have survived even a fraction of the improbable escapades his author puts him through. Nevertheless, they make for great entertainment, with plenty of surprises in plot but none in the quality of its delivery. Fans will be enthralled by Merry Christmas, Alex Cross. And, by the way, he does get to enjoy a Happy New Year!

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