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Four Blind Mice    by James Patterson order for
Four Blind Mice
by James Patterson
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

We last saw Alex Cross in a desperate struggle with the Mastermind in Roses Are Red, and once again (with the addition of wild beasts, a vampire cult and even more carnage) in Violets Are Blue (the latter has been released in paperback, just in time for Halloween). Those fans who found Violets Are Blue too gory for their taste, will enjoy Four Blind Mice as a chiller more typical of earlier Alex Cross episodes.

Alex is winding up his involvement with the D.C. police and, despite his previous manipulation by Kyle Craig, is flirting with a job offer from the FBI. All is well on the home front, aside from niggling worries about Nana's health and a vacuum in Alex's romantic life, that he attempts to fill with a long distance relationship with the lovely, tough but vulnerable, San Francisco Inspector Jamilla Hughes.

Then John Sampson, Alex's partner, friend and almost brother, asks for his help. Ellis Cooper, a close friend and ex-Vietnam comrade of John's, is on death row for the murder of three women. Despite genetic evidence to the contrary, John is convinced of his friend's innocence. When he and Alex investigate, they face the grey wall of an army coverup with links back to events in Vietnam.

Alex starts to receive communications from Foot Soldier, but can he trust this informant? Leads point Alex and John to similar cases; they uncover witnesses who saw three suspicious looking men at the crime scenes, and find eerie straw dolls inserted amongst the possessions of those convicted. There are connections to other death row cells (in Colorado) whose inmates include Kyle Craig. This results in unwanted encounters for Alex with his old nemesis, and new threats to his family.

After romantic interludes for Sampson as well as for Cross and the usual heavy dose of mayhem and murder, Alex and John face a violent showdown with three blind mice in the Georgia woods. But who is the fourth? When Alex finds out, he almost comes to grief. The mystery of what links the framed men keeps the reader's interest high as does the development of Alex's romantic life.

One has to wonder, given past history, if Jamilla will survive such a dangerous relationship, and what Mr. Patterson plans for another woman introduced in this story, Nana's new doctor Kayla. As usual, the author has injected into this novel tantalising cues to Alex Cross's next adventure, which all his fans will eagerly await.

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