James Patterson, America's #1 thriller writer broke it big with 1992's Along Came a Spider. Along Came a Spider begins with the double kidnapping of the daughter of a famous Hollywood actress and the young son of the secretary of the Treasury. Alex Cross, the psychologist turned Washington DC homicide detective and the novel's hero, becomes intertwined in a complicated web of deceit, double-crossing, and treachery. Enter Gary Soneji, the book's main villain. He's a psychopathic serial killer completely and utterly determined to commit the "crime of the century." He's been practicing for this kidnapping for years, as he's killed several people already. He is truly a great villain (something some Alex Cross book's lack) who I personally put right up there at the level set by Hannibal Lecter. Alex teams up with Jezzie Flannagan, who is head of the Secret Service and also assigned to the case. Alex and Jezzie are both determined to find the kidnapper and, more importantly, the two young kids.
The writing style may take a while to get used to, as the Alex Cross chapters are in the first person, while all the other chapters (Jezzie or Gary Soneji) are in the third person. This style works, however, as the reader ends up becoming extremely attached to Alex Cross.
Their search is always exciting, always dramatic, and never leaves the reader feeling bored. In fact, this non-stop action, even more prevalent in later installments in the Alex Cross series, may leave fans of slower-paced novels that are more development-focused (character and plot-wise) feeling duped. It's like an action movie versus a slower, suspense movie, but a good action movie. Fans of thrillers written by the likes of Thomas Harris, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King might not fully appreciate it. The book is composed of about 90 chapters which are generally short in length, usually around 2-3 pages. This keeps the book like a roller-coaster, which is a good thing.
My favorite parts of the book are the plot twists, which is something the Alex Cross books have become known for. These plot twists sometimes come out of nowhere, but always make sense. I was completely shocked at least 4 or 5 times during the story. Once you think you've got it figured out, chances are you're nowhere close to being right.
A harrowing plot, memorable characters, action galore, and shocking plot twists all add up to make this thriller a classic of the genre.