First published in 1993, this book is an ‘oldie but a goodie.’ It’s listed in the Amazon UK’s 100 Crime Books and Thrillers to Read in a Lifetime – a reading challenge I am currently undertaking. In fact, it is currently ranked #2.
From the back cover:
The whole nation was in uproar when two celebrity rich kids were kidnapped – and then one of them was found dead. For such a high-profile case, only the top people would do: Alex Cross, a detective with a PhD in psychology, and Jezzie Flanagan, a fast-rising young Secret Service agent. Yet even they were no match for the killer. He could switch from blood-crazed madness to clear-eyed sanity in an instant. But was he the helpless victim of a multiple-personality disorder – or a brilliant, cold-hearted manipulator?
Along Came a Spider introduces us to Detective Alex Cross as he hunts serial killer Gary Soneji/Murphy. This was my first book by James Patterson, he is an extremely well established author and from this book, I can see why. The plot is action packed, and there were some very suspenseful elements along the way which kept me reading well into the night! Particularly relating to the character of Soneji/Murphy – Patterson wrote both Murphy (a normal loving husband) and Soneji (a heartless serial killer) so convincingly, – I couldn’t figure out if he did indeed have a multiple personality disorder or if he was a master manipulator.
Regarding the character of Detective Alex Cross, I’m undecided, at times I really liked him and at some points, I felt Patterson was trying too hard to make him an all-round likeable guy. I like the image Patterson created of Cross as a single father with two kids with his nan there to offer support (and childcare), this made him likeable and down to earth. Also when he was taken of a case off a family murdered in the projects to work on the kidnapping of these two rich kids, he cared enough to still look into the murders. Then there were times in ‘the field’ when Cross came across as very big-headed and little too full of himself, which I didn’t find so appealing. This book did have a strong racial theme to it; there were times when I felt Patterson was, again trying too hard, almost as though he felt the need to keep constantly reminding us Cross was a black man, after a while this became annoying, mid-way through the book, I won’t forget the character, you don’t need to keep reminding me; let his “blackness” be genuine, rather than put on/false. That was really my own issue with this book.
I enjoyed the many, many plot twists; Soneji/Murphy constantly evading capture was thoroughly entertaining. I also really enjoyed Patterson’s writing style, it differed so much, understandably, from today’s detective novels. No mention of this fancy technology we have today. When you read so many newly released books (within the last few years), it’s nice to mix it up every now and again with an older book. I can see why this book was chosen to be made into a film. Morgan Freeman plays Detective Cross, who doesn’t like Morgan Freeman, I’m off to watch the film now….
This book is available to buy now at: Amazon UK