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Violets Are Blue    by James Patterson order for
Violets Are Blue
by James Patterson
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Violets Are Blue continues the Alex Cross story that started in Roses Are Red. The same Mastermind pulls the strings in both books, though his involvement is less direct this time around. Those who began with Roses Are Red know that a friend of the psychologist detective is behind the regular, chilling phone calls that inform Alex that he and those he loves are next on the Mastermind's hit list. The author keeps his readers wondering when Alex will figure out what they already know.

Which is where I had to suspend disbelief in numbers six and seven in this chiller series. How could such an expert and intuitive psychologist spend time with someone on a regular basis for many years, without having a clue that there is something so wrong with him? Perhaps I just don't understand the camouflage abilities of a psychopathic personality. Another oddity was Alex's passive reaction to the villain's threats to his family. Though they eventually ended up under FBI protection, the psychologist initially flitted across the country leaving them vulnerable. He seemed overly fatalistic - or possibly simply overwhelmed.

That aside, Patterson has dreamed up yet another unusual team of purveyors of murder and wholesale mayhem. This time it's a vampire cult with links to a 60's hippie community, wild beasts and a Las Vegas magic show. The first wave of bad guys (always look for layers within layers from this author) includes two handsome and very deadly young brothers who play with a tiger, growl as they feast, and have a taste for blood while touring the country in a self-styled 'crimson tide'. Cross, the FBI, and attractive San Francisco Inspector Jamilla Hughes (at the rate at which his lovers get knocked off, Alex badly needed a new romantic interest) investigate, usually a couple of steps behind the bad guys.

Of course they do eventually catch up with the vampires and their Sire and deal with them, but that only infuriates the Mastermind, whose threats escalate. Alex finally works out who he is and who's likely to be his next target, leading to a direct confrontation, with many references back to previous stories. Violets Are Blue had a bit too much blood and gore for my taste, but is sure to be yet another hit with Alex Cross fans. Though emotions only skim the surface in this series, the speed of its action and its regular plot surprises keep readers coming back for more chills and thrills. I'm curious to see what's coming next - Alex as an FBI recruit, more from Geoffrey Shafer, or will the Mastermind continue to manipulate events while in custody? Only time, and James Patterson, will tell.

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