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Archive for November, 2013

 A Profile of Two Great Writers:

Michael Connelly and James Patterson

 

 

 

     In this Blog I first describe some of my experiences writing, followed by an in-depth look at the background and writings of two of America’s greatest writers: Michael Connelly and James Patterson.

Connections

     My first experience as a writer (other than academic research studies in the field of criminology) was two non-fiction books, An Evaluation of Juvenile Diversion (1980) with another researcher and scholar, and White Collar Crime and Offenders: A 20-Year Longitudinal Cohort Study (2002). However, in 1986 I wanted to try my hand at writing fiction. For two years I worked very hard to create my first screenplay titled, American Hawk (A military action/adventure story). After I wrote American Hawk, I registered it with the WGA (Writers Guild of America) in February, 1988. I sent the screenplay to Hollywood. I imagined that it would sit on a pile with thousands of other scripts; but, initially, I got lucky.

     An administrative assistant sent my script on to Tony Bill, a movie producer, who then read my screenplay. But, he passed on it. Years went by. Then in 2003 (I retired in February 2000, and now could devote myself to fulltime writing) I pulled my dusty screenplay off my shelf and proceeded to turn it into a book. I sent the published book to Chuck Norris who had done a lot of action flicks. Previously, he had done three movies with Vietnam as the story location. But, unfortunately for me, he too passed on turning my book into a movie. I had thought it was right for him because it was an action story that took place primarily in Vietnam.

     During those years I learned one very hard lesson about being a writer outside of Hollywood. That is, many directors and producers so often think they can write good scripts that they will direct and/or produce only those scripts written by them. At this point I could have let myself become discouraged and stopped writing altogether. But that was not who I was. I decided to continue writing books rather than screenplays. And, I’m glad I did. Yet, my love of creative fiction caused me to strongly consider trying my hand at novel writing.     

     I’m now working on my eleventh book (a history book); it’s about spies during World War I. Between 1980 and today I have written three novels and seven nonfiction books. To be honest, nothing in my life was harder for me than to write that very first novel. This was because I was learning the craft of novel writing at the same time I was trying to actually write one. Nevertheless, much of the material for the book came from the screenplay. But a screenplay requires a different craft of writing than does a novel, despite their inherent similarities of story, plot and dialogue. In any event, my first novel American Hawk was published in 2003.

Here is a quick summary of my first novel:

 

     In 1972 Major Jake Hammer, an army ranger, is sent on a mission to search for answers involving a spate of military unit ambushes. During a battle Jake captures a North Vietnamese colonel named Duc Toe. Jake finds stolen TOP SECRET documents in the colonel’s possession detailing military operations and troop movements. Jake orders his brother Marvin to transport the evidence back to Saigon for investigation. Marvin’s Cobra Helicopter is blown up killing Marvin and his co-pilot. In the meantime Colonel Duc Toe escapes.

     In 1975 Jake returns to Saigon on a special ops mission to recover stolen gold reserves. During his return Jake falls in love with Deanna Templeton, an embassy administrative assistant. She helps Jake find out that his brother’s death was no accident, and that it was covered up by the military. The mystery further leads Jake to discover a drug pipeline between Colonel Duc Toe, military and embassy officials in Saigon and, on the home front, the anti-war movement and the New York mob.

     As North Vietnam undertakes the final invasion of South Vietnam, Jake races against time to help his friends escape and serve final justice to those responsible for espionage, treason and murder.

I still think Chuck Norris would have been perfect to play the movie role of Major Jake Hammer. Don’t you?

 

 

Introduction

    I am a slow reader of novels. I like to savor every nuance of character, the cleverness of story and plot twists, and sometimes I feel like I can get inside the mind of a book’s author. I enjoy being in the mind of the author as much as I do reading his works and what he writes in terms of story construction. I enjoy how the author thinks because one can observe the author’s mind churning ideas as he/she unravels a story before your eyes. This is primarily why I am a slow reader of novels.

 

     I promised my readers I would do a Blog about good books one can enjoy reading. I’ve chosen to select just two authors, Michael Connelly and James Patterson. 

     I am a bit biased about Michael Connelly and James Patterson. In my humble opinion they are two of the finest writers alive today. I admire their creative intellectual gifts and thoroughly enjoy reading their books. Here is a little background on each author, followed by a synopsis or summary of three of their books. Everyone has their own idea of what’s good among books and many times are based on different reasons.

     Three books from Michael Connelly I thought were exceptionally good include: The Brass Verdict, 9 Dragons, and The Closers. From James Patterson I really enjoyed reading three outstanding books: Cross Country, Along Came a Spider, and Kill Alex Cross

Michael Connelly

      Michael Connelly, born in Philadelphia on July 21, 1956 is an American author of detective novels and other crime fiction, notably those featuring LAPD Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch and criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller. He was educated at the University of Florida. After graduating from the University in 1980, Connelly got a job as a crime beat reporter at the Daytona Beach News Journal where he worked for almost two years until he got a job at the Fort Lauderdale News and Sun-Sentinel in 1981.  There, he covered the crime beat during the South Florida cocaine wars, an era that brought with it much violence and murder. He stayed with the paper for a few years and in 1986, he and two other reporters spent several months interviewing survivors of the 1985 Delta Flight 191 plane crash. This story earned Connelly a place as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The honor also brought Connelly a job as a crime reporter at the Los Angeles Times. He moved to California in 1987 with his wife Linda McCaleb, whom he met while in college and married in April 1984.

     After moving to Los Angeles, Connelly went to see the High Tower Apartments where Raymond Chandler’s famous character, Philip Marlowe, had lived (in The High Window), and Robert Altman had filmed. Connelly got the manager of the building to promise a phone call in case the apartment ever became available. Ten years later, the manager tracked Connelly down and he decided to rent the place. This apartment served as a place to write for several years, but it was more based on the nostalgia of the place than the comfort of it (for example, it didn’t have air conditioning).

     After three years at the Los Angeles Times, Connelly wrote his first published novel The Black Echo, after previously writing two unfinished novels that he had not attempted to get published. The novel was sold to Little Brown to be published in 1992 and won the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award for best first novel.

     The book is partly based on a true crime and is the first one featuring Connelly’s primary recurring character, Los Angeles Police Department Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch, a man who, according to Connelly, shares few similarities with the author himself. Connelly named Bosch after the Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, known for his paintings full of sin and redemption, including a painting called “Hell”, a copy of which hangs on the office wall behind Connelly’s computer. Connelly describes his own work as a big canvas with all the characters of his books floating across it as currents on a painting. Sometime they are bound to collide creating cross currents. This is something that Connelly himself creates by bringing back characters from previous books and letting them play a part in books written five or six years after first being introduced.

Connelly went on to write three more novels about Detective Bosch — The Black Ice (1993), The Concrete Blond (1994), and The Last Coyote (1995) — before quitting his job as a reporter to write full-time.

     Connelly has gone on to write both critically acclaimed and popular novels including Blood Work and The Lincoln Lawyer, both of which were adapted into successful films. Over 42 million copies of his books have been sold internationally and translated in 39 languages. He lives in Florida with his family and occasionally appears on the television show, Castle.

     He is the recipient of many awards including: Dilly’s Award, Nero Award, Anthony Award for Best Novel, Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author, Barry Award for Best Novel, Grand Prix de Littérature Policière – International Category, Shamus Award for Best P. I. Hardcover Novel, and Macavity Awards for Best Mystery and Novel More.

 

     Here is a listing of all his fiction books (not collections or nonfiction books) in chronological published order:

The Black Echo                          

Lost Light                                  

The Concrete Blond

The Last Coyote                         

The Poet

Trunk Music

Blood Work

Angels Flight

Void Moon

A Darkness More than Night

City of Bones

Chasing the Dime

The Black Ice

The Narrows

The Closers

The Lincoln Lawyer

Echo Park

The Overlook

The Brass Verdict

The Scarecrow

9 Dragons

Reversal

The Fifth Witness

The Drop

The Black Box

James Patterson

     Patterson B. Patterson was born in Newburgh, New York, on March 22, 1947, and received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Manhattan College and a Master of Arts in English from Vanderbilt University. He is an American author whose books have sold more than 270 million copies. He is largely known for his novels about fictional psychologist Alex Cross, the protagonist of the Alex Cross series. Patterson also wrote the Michael Bennett, Women’s Murder Club, Maximum Ride, Daniel X, and Witch and Wizard series, as well as many stand-alone thrillers, non-fiction and romance novels. His books have sold more than 270 million copies. His novels have sold more copies than those of Stephen King, John Grisham and Dan Brown combined.

     After Patterson retired from advertising in 1996, he devoted his time to writing. James Patterson published his first novel in 1976 called The Thomas Berryman Number. The novels featuring his character Alex Cross, a forensic psychologist formerly of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation who now works as a private psychologist and government consultant, are his most popular and the top-selling U.S. detective series in the past ten years. Patterson has written 95 novels since 1976. He has had 19 consecutive No. 1 New York Times bestselling novels, and holds The New York Times record for most bestselling hardcover fiction titles by a single author, a total of 76, which is also a Guinness World Record. His novels account for one in 17 of all hardcover novels sold in the United States.

     Patterson’s awards include the Edgar Award, the BCA Mystery Guild’s Thriller of the Year, the International Thriller of the Year award, and the Children’s Choice Book Award for Author of the Year. He is the first author to have No. 1 new titles simultaneously on The New York Times adult and children’s bestsellers lists, and to have two books on NovelTracker’s top-ten list at the same time. He appeared on the Fox TV show The Simpson’s (in the episode “Yokel Chords”) and in various episodes of Castle (along with Michael Connelly) as himself.

     Patterson works with a variety of co-authors, such as Maxine Paetro, Andrew Gross, Mark Sullivan, Ashwin Sanghi, Michael Ledwidge, and Peter De Jonge and has often said that collaborating with others brings new and interesting ideas to his stories.

     In September 2009, Patterson signed a deal to write or co-write 11 books for adults and 6 for young adults by the end of 2012. Forbes reported the deal was worth at least $150 million, but according to Patterson the estimate was inaccurate.

     Patterson founded the James Patterson PageTurner Awards in 2005 to donate over US$100,000 that year to people, companies, schools, and other institutions that find original and effective ways to spread the excitement of books and reading. The PageTurner Awards were put on hold in 2008 to focus on Patterson’s new initiative, ReadKiddoRead.com, which helps parents, teachers, and librarians find the best books for their children. The social networking site for ReadKiddoRead is hosted by Ning. Patterson has also set up the James Patterson Teacher Education Scholarship in the schools of education at Appalachian State, Michigan State University, and Florida Atlantic University. Patterson also runs the College Book Bucks scholarship program.

 

Plot Summaries

The Brass Verdict, 9 Dragons, and The Closers

 By Michael Connelly

 

The Brass Verdict

     Since the events of the previous novel, attorney Mickey Haller has spent a year recuperating from his wounds and a subsequent addiction to painkillers. He is called back to the practice of law when an old acquaintance, defense attorney Jerry Vincent, is murdered. Haller inherits Vincent’s caseload, which includes the high-profile trial of Walter Elliott, a Hollywood mogul accused of murdering his wife Mitzi and her German lover. Haller secures this “franchise” case, persuading the mogul to keep him on as counsel by promising not to seek a postponement of the trial, which is due to start in nine days.

     Meanwhile, maverick LAPD detective Harry Bosch, the main character in several earlier novels written by Connelly, is investigating Vincent’s murder. Bosch, warning that Vincent’s killer may come after Haller next, persuades the reluctant lawyer to cooperate in the ongoing murder investigation. Meanwhile, Haller shakes off the rust and lingering self-doubts, as he prepares for the double-murder trial.

     Among the cases Haller takes on is that of a former surfing champion, Patrick, who, while addicted to painkillers after a surfing accident, has stolen a diamond necklace while at the home of a friend. Haller feels sorry for Patrick because of his own history of addiction, and employs the young man to drive his Lincoln. He manages to get Patrick off the charges against him by playing on a hunch that the stolen diamonds were not genuine.

     Haller, assisted by his investigator, Cisco, and his office assistant, Lorna (who is one of Haller’s two ex-wives), works out a strategy to defend his client, based on the fact that the gunshot residue found on Elliott’s hands is the result of having travelled in a police car used earlier in the day to transport another prisoner.

     He also becomes suspicious of three German men, relatives of Mitzi Elliott’s lover, and throws doubt as to whether the couple’s murderer was actually after Mitzi or her lover. In the meantime, Walter admits that he is involved with the Mafia and that he believes they murdered both his wife and the lawyer Jerry Vincent.

     On the strength of information from Bosch, Haller becomes suspicious that Vincent has bribed someone in the legal process to plant a jury member who would help obtain an acquittal for Walter Elliott, regardless of the evidence. On investigation, he finds that one of the jurors has stolen someone else’s identity, and he ensures that this information becomes known to the judge in the Elliott case, resulting in the trial being brought to a halt just as it begins to go Haller’s way. Elliott, however, confesses to Haller that he actually did kill Mitzi and her lover, and Haller is left pondering on the outcome of the case. During the evening he receives a call from the police, asking him to help a former client. When he arrives on the scene, he is attacked by a man who attempts to push him over a precipice. Bosch and his team, who have been observing Haller, arrive on the scene just in time to prevent the murder, and the attacker is discovered to be the planted juryman.

     Haller figures out that the person behind the corruption is in fact a senior judge, and confronts her with his evidence, leading to her arrest by the FBI. When he learns that Walter Elliott and his secretary have also been murdered, he assumes she is behind that murder, but it turns out that justice has been dispensed by Mitzi lover’s family before their return to Germany.

     Unknown to Haller, but revealed in previous Connelly novels, is the fact that Bosch is Haller’s half-brother. Haller works out the puzzle by the end of the book, going mainly on the resemblances between Bosch and his own father (himself a lawyer) but at this point no arrangement is made for the two men to meet again.

9 Dragons

     Harry is still back in homicide and, during a slow night, he is asked to investigate a shooting in a “rougher” section of L.A. Harry and his partner (Detective Ferras) grudgingly take the assignment and learn that a Chinese-American convenience store owner was murdered behind his own counter. The case draws Harry’s interest because he remembers the store, and that the owner had been kind to him several years earlier during the investigation. He assures the owner’s son that he will catch the culprit.

Harry starts to realize that this might not have been a routine robbery but a possible execution by a Triad hitman. With the help of Detective Chu of the Chinese gang unit, Harry starts to zero in on a suspect and then receives a threatening call to tell him to back off. Harry shrugs it off and continues but then his investigation stalls when he receives a video showing his daughter (Maddy) being kidnapped in Hong Kong, which he believes to be related to his murder investigation. He rushes off to save her, realizing that if he is not back within 48 hours, a suspect in the shooting will be set free.

It is a tense plane ride to Hong Kong; and Harry feels powerless because there is nothing he can do in the air. When he gets to Hong Kong, he is aided by his ex-wife (Eleanor Wish) and her Chinese boyfriend. Harry has limited clues, but through very good forensic science he is able to determine where to look for Maddy. But during the search, Eleanor is killed by thieves. Harry and her boyfriend race to find Maddy because any delay could mean that she might already be dead or shipped into slavery by the Triad. Harry rescues her in the nick of time and takes her to L.A. but determines, through other forensic evidence, that there is no connection between her kidnapping and his murder investigation. Murder evidence points to Robert Li, the son of the victim, and his best friend Lam.

     Back in Los Angeles Bosch and Chu arrest Lam, whom they believe to be the killer, leaving Ferras to follow Robert Li. Lam reveals that the entire murder was a plot concocted by Mia, the victim’s daughter, to relieve her of the burden of her parents; Robert had come up with the idea of disguising it as a Triad killing.

     When Bosch and Chu inform Ferras, he decides to single-handedly arrest Robert Li as an act of defiance against Bosch, but he is killed by Mia during the arrest. Mia then commits suicide. After Ferras’ funeral, Maddy confesses to Harry that the “kidnapping” was originally a fake that she planned with “Quick”, a Chinese friend, to get her mother to agree to let her live with Harry. However, when presented with this opportunity, Quick made a deal with the Triad and turned it into a real kidnapping. Maddy blames herself for the deaths, especially her mother’s death that followed. Harry consoles her, promising to show her how they can make up for their mistakes.

     The Closers

     Harry Bosch: Harry Bosch is the lead detective in the story. Bosch returns to L.A.P.D. after three year retirement. Bosch works in open-unsolved or the cold cases division of L.AP.D. Bosch is an intelligent detective who leaves no stone upturned. Bosch is left-handed. Bosch is the only member of his police academy class still working for the LAPD.

     Kizmin Rider: Kizmin “Kiz” Rider is an African American detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. She initially worked robbery and fraud in the Pacific Division before moving to the homicide table in the Hollywood Division where she was assigned to Squad One along with Harry Bosch and Jerry Edgar. She had convinced the chief to take ‘harry’ back to service.

     The Closers is the 15th novel by American crime author Michael Connelly, and the eleventh featuring the Los Angeles detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch. This novel features a return to an omniscient third-person narration after the previous two, set during Bosch’s retirement (Lost Light and The Narrows) were narrated in from a first-person perspective.

     In The Closers LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) detective Harry Bosch is back on the force after a three-year retirement. Assigned to the Open-Unsolved (cold cases) unit and teamed with former partner Kizmin “Kiz” Rider, Harry’s first case back involves the murder of 16-year-old high school girl Rebecca Verloren in 1988, reopened because of a DNA match to blood found on the murder weapon. The blood on the gun belongs to a local low-life white supremacist, Roland Mackey, a fact that links him to the crime via the victim’s biracial family. But the blood indicates only that Mackey had possession of the gun, so how to pin him to the crime?

     Connelly meticulously leads the reader along with Bosch and Rider as they explore the links to Mackey and along the way connect the initial investigation of the crime to a police conspiracy orchestrated by Bosch’s nemesis, Irving. Irving covers up the ties of a ranking officer’s son with a neo-Nazi group. Most striking of all, in developments that give this novel astonishing moral force, the pair explore the “ripples” of the long-ago crime, how it has destroyed the young girl’s family—leaving the mother trapped in the past and plunging the father into a nightmare of homelessness and alcoholism—and how it drives Rider, and especially Bosch, into a deeper understanding of their own purposes in life.

     I did not make room for other fine Michael Connelly books but I also liked: The Concrete Blond, Blood Work, and The Lincoln Lawyer.

Plot Summaries

 

 Cross Country, Along Came a Spider and Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson

 

These are my favorite James Patterson’s books:

Cross Country

     When the home of Alex Cross’s oldest friend, Ellie Cox, is turned into the worst murder scene Alex has ever seen, the destruction leads him to believe that he’s chasing a horrible new breed of killer. As Alex and his girlfriend, Brianna Stone, become entangled in the deadly Nigerian underworld of Washington D.C., what they discover is shocking: a stunningly organized gang of lethal teenagers headed by a powerful, diabolical man–the African warlord known as the Tiger. Just when the detectives think they’re closing in on the elusive murderer, the Tiger disappears into thin air. After gaining access from the CIA he plans on going to Nigeria, where he hopes to find and stop the Tiger, using the knowledge based on the Tiger’s whereabouts. After convincing a bitter Nanna and nervous Bree, he goes on a plane trip to Nigeria, where he is annoyed by their customs. He is then kidnapped by ‘cops’ and put in jail, where his nose is broken; he is horribly injured as well as being deprived of water and food. After nearly three days or more, he is bailed out by the American Ian Flaherty who gives Cross advice to flee while he still can. Bree, Cross’s girlfriend, calls him. She tells him there has been another murder by the Tiger.

    He then figures out the Tiger’s next murder, and arrives on time to stop the Tiger and his gang of kids. Most of the villains escape, including the Tiger and most of his gang. Instead of listening to Flaherty, Cross instead goes to Sudan, where he meets veteran, Moses, who feeds him and gives him water. Later that night, Cross, when alone by himself, is ambushed by the Tiger’s gang, however, he escapes with Moses’ help and buys a truck which he later gives to Moses. Father Bomata, a priest whom he met during the plane ride to Nigeria, informs him his cousin, Addane Tansi, may be able to help Alex, who meets Addane, a reporter who had, unbeknownst to Alex, befriended Ellie, whom had gone to Nigeria some time before her death. Addane introduces Alex to her family and shares a kiss with him, which he refuses to think of because of Bree; Flaherty later reveals that the Tiger’s real name is Abidemi Swonade. Alex and Addane go to a hobo camp where they are attacked by Janjaweed, ruthless men who rape, injure, and kill women and children.

     After barely escaping, they return to Nigeria. Cross and Addane discover that Addane’s family have been murdered. As they try to get closer, Cross and Addane are taken to jail by cops. Alex witnesses Addane get murdered by Tiger, after being raped. He is released afterwards.

   Heading back to Washington, he is annoyed by all that has happened. After the course of events, many more murders have occurred. Heading home, he learns that Alex’s family has been kidnapped by the Tiger, who then gives Alex coordinates to the hideout. Alex, Bree, and ally, John Sampson, go and defeat the Tiger’s gang, while Alex follows Swonade (Tiger) whom nearly overpowers him. But Alex kills the Tiger. Ian Flaherty is revealed to be working with Swonade and is arrested. Shortly afterward, his family is found; Alex instantly thinks the CIA might have worked with the Tiger. Alex calls upon Merrill Synder and Steven Millard, from the CIA, and arrests them, after discovering they and Flaherty were associated with the Tiger.

     The book ends as Alex gets an alarming phone call from Kyle Craig, who has escaped from prison and wants revenge on Alex Cross, after the events in the previous book.

Along Came a Spider

Alex Cross: An African-American forensic psychologist as well as a detective, described as good-looking and well-built. He is often referred to as “Doctor Detective.” Despite being very dedicated to his job, he manages to be a devoted father to his two children. His wife, Maria, was killed in a shooting before the novel begins and he is romantically involved with Jezzie Flannagan before he finds out her role in Maggie Rose’s disappearance.

Jezzie Flannagan: Before the kidnapping of Maggie Rose and Michael Goldberg, she held an esteemed position in the Secret Service—the first woman ever to hold the position. She is described as very beautiful, though she confides in Alex that she wishes she’d been born plain so she wouldn’t have to face as much sexism in her workplace. As a white woman romantically involved with Alex (an African-American man), she faces racism, though she handles it better than Alex does. Both her parents were alcoholics. Additionally, her father later committed suicide. She names them as “smart failures,” or brilliant people who never made anything of their lives. When Alex confronts her about her own betrayal, she admits that she approached him at first strictly to get information on what the cops knew, but that she later fell in love with him and his children.

Gary Murphy/Soneji: As a boy, he was physically and sexually abused by his father and stepmother, which caused him to develop a split personality. Gary Murphy is a normal, all-American father and husband, while Gary Soneji is a cold-blooded predator who fantasizes about kidnapping children and burying them alive. Then he orchestrates the kidnapping of Maggie Rose and Michael Goldberg. He has an obsession with being famous, and wants to be the most feared criminal in America.

     Washington, D.C. homicide investigator and forensic psychologist Alex Cross investigates the brutal murders of two black prostitutes and an infant. Then, at an exclusive private school, math teacher Gary Soneji kidnaps Maggie Rose Dunne and Michael Goldberg. Cross is pulled off the murder case to investigate the kidnapping instead. Angry because he feels everyone cares more about two rich white children than three dead black people, he meets Jezzie Flannagan, the head of the children’s Secret Service detail. At an old farmhouse, Soneji buries the children alive in a specially made coffin. Angered by FBI agent Roger Graham’s contemptuous comments about him on TV, Soneji later impersonates a reporter and kills Graham. Meanwhile, Cross, his partner John Sampson and the FBI search Soneji’s apartment, discovering his obsession with kidnappings, particularly that of the Lindbergh baby, and his desire to become a world famous criminal.

     Later, Michael Goldberg’s corpse is discovered, and the Dunnes receive a telegram demanding $10 million. Cross, Sampson and the FBI investigate, and Cross begins an affair with Jezzie Flannagan. He is ordered to deliver the money to Walt Disney World in Orlando, wondering how Soneji knows about his involvement. A man takes him on a plane, flying to a small island and taking the money, but never delivering Maggie Rose. At the old farmhouse, police officers find the empty graves where the children were held. Soneji returns to his home in Wilmington, Delaware, where it is revealed he has a wife and a daughter.

     In Washington DC, Soneji, dressed as a public utility employee, murders a teacher from the private school. Cross and Sampson are sent to the scene and, seeing the way he mutilated the body, quickly realize that Soneji is also behind the killings they investigated before and after the kidnapping. In the murdered prostitutes’ neighborhood, an elderly woman recalls a man going door to door selling heating systems. They soon find out that a man named Gary Murphy works for the company. They conduct surveillance of his family home in Wilmington, but Soneji manages to escape. A day later, he walks into a McDonald’s and holds several people hostage. Soneji is almost killed, but Cross saves him, as he believes Soneji knows where Maggie is. The criminal promises Cross will regret saving his life.

     The trial of Gary Soneji/Murphy lasts eleven months. Cross hypnotizes him several times, learning he seems to have a split personality; Gary Murphy, his everyday persona, is a gentle family man, while Gary Soneji is a vicious sociopath. Despite the defense’s best effort at an insanity plea, Soneji is imprisoned. Meanwhile, Cross learns that someone was following Soneji and knew about the kidnapping. Cross suspects Mike Devine and Charley Chakely, who were the Secret Service agents in charge of protecting Maggie Rose and Michael Goldberg when they were kidnapped. He meets with Soneji, who confirms he may have been followed. He did not make the connection until he recognized the man at his trial: Mike Devine.

     Cross meets with the FBI, who believed for some time that Devine and Chakely took the ransom money, hiring and later murdering the pilot from Florida. Cross also learns that no other than Jezzie Flannagan masterminded the kidnapping using her lover, Devine, as a pawn. Around the same time, Soneji escapes from prison and goes to Washington, where he tortures Devine to find out where the ransom money is. After retrieving the money, he kills Devine.

Cross takes Flannagan on a Caribbean getaway, and confronts her about her actions. She explains that Devine and Chakely noticed Soneji driving by the Goldberg house, and followed him. The ransom was her idea, and they removed Maggie Rose after Michael died accidentally. Flannagan is arrested based on a recording Sampson made of the conversation, and Maggie Rose is found with a family in South America, where she had been living for the past two years.

Shortly after this, Soneji attacks Cross at his Washington home, attempting to kill his grandmother and children. Losing the fight, Soneji is hunted through the capital and eventually cornered on Pennsylvania Avenue, where he takes two children hostage. Soneji is about to shoot Cross, but Sampson shoots Soneji first, wounding him. Later, Charley Chakely and Jezzie Flannagan are executed for their crimes, while Soneji is locked up in a mental institution. He writes a last taunting letter to Cross and bribes a guard to leave it on Cross’ windshield. Disturbed but unwilling to let the psychopath disrupt his life any further, Cross returns home to spend time with his family.

Kill Alex Cross

     President Coyle’s children, Zoe (who is depicted as ‘always getting in trouble’ or starting it) and Ethan (who is the opposite of his sister, and is often picked on and bullied by fellow students at their middle school), speak to each other alone in a shed, when Secret Service open the door to take them to assembly, they find Zoe and Ethan have been kidnapped. Meanwhile, Metro Police Department cop Alex Cross, along with FBI agents, and Secret Service, discover a vehicle that rushes quickly out of the school grounds. Upon chasing the van, a massive car crash results soon afterward. Alex interrogates the driver, who is badly injured and sent to the hospital. Alex later learns the driver’s name to be Pinkey. Meanwhile, FBI agent Ned Mahoney is told by Director Ron Burns that all information must be kept from Metro Police, and others, especially Alex Cross – who is a close friend of Mahoney. Ned feels guilty, and later offers to give info to Alex. Alex later tells his best friend, John Sampson, the case reminds him of the case of Gary Soneji, who was a math teacher that kidnapped two children.

After being sure the FBI is keeping information from him, Alex asks Ned for help, but he refuses, annoying Alex. Alex is later asked to see the president’s wife. The First Lady tells Alex she is confident, and hopes, Alex can help rescue her children. She responds by telling Alex about her children. Two messages are given from the kidnapper, one saying “there will be no ransom” nor negotiations. Later, when being called upon by the CIA for a private meeting, he discovers the two messages, and also makes up with Ned. Later, at a FBI meeting, Alex and Ned, along other FBI agents, and etc, are shown a video of the Coyle children who are seduced and sleeping. President Coyle speaks at the meeting revealing that Al Ayla, otherwise known as “the Family”, who are a group of Saudi people, may have something to do with it. The Family consists of Hala, her husband Tariq, and others; Tariq and Hala came to America from the East. Their first mission, together with another couple, is the poisoning of Washington’s water supply. Aware that there is a traitor in the Family they kill the other couple afterwards.

The target of their second attack is the Washington Metro. Hala and Tariq work with a different couple and their two sons but are nearly caught and Hala shoots two cops. After fleeing from the site they are offered a home from Uncle, a member of the Family. The couple with the two sons is later found by the FBI but manages to take their suicide capsules.

Meanwhile, Alex goes to the school and interrogates many, including Zoe’s friend, a counselor, the principal, and the male nurse Mr. Glass. The kidnapper is revealed to use a recorder to record his thoughts and feelings on why he did the kidnapping and what outcomes he wishes to have.

Uncle and his wife are later arrested and interrogated. It is revealed that the wife is the FBI’s secret informer, in exchange for a new life. She helps them to arrest several Family members on their next mission. Only Hala and Tariq escape, Tariq being shot in the hand. One of the arrested women finally confirms that the kidnapping of the president’s children has most likely nothing to do with the Family.

Nana Mama is kicked down and robbed by a young girl, angering Bree – Alex’s wife – who goes looking for the girl. Upon finding her, she brings the girl to Nana to apologize. The girl reveals her name to be Ava and has no parents. Nana and Bree decide to adopt her, against Alex’s initial wishes, but he later agrees. Ava is shown to interact with Jannie and Ali, Alex’s children, very well.

Alex also learns from the First Lady that Zoe doesn’t have a phone, when one of Zoe’s friends said she did. Interrogating Zoe’s friend, he learns someone used her phone to text Zoe to lure her out of the school – possibly the kidnapper. He asks Ryan, the bully that picks on Ethan (who earlier got into a fight with Zoe and Ethan), about why he texted her a year ago on a field trip. Ryan shows him the message (“I want to cum on your tits.”) but also claims someone else wrote it. It seems that the kidnapper uses the phones from different kids to contact Zoe. Alex suspects the killer is the school’s janitor after interrogating him, since the janitor runs off. It is later revealed that he’s not the kidnapper but has pornographic pictures of children on his computer. Alex later suspects Glass – the school’s nurse – is the killer. When asking Glass’ wife about Glass, she reveals he wanted to be a doctor, but after the death of their son, Zach, he got mad and blamed everyone for his death. She also reveals that after a few months, Glass kidnapped her and held her hostage in a basement sort of thing, with food and water. However, he later took her back home, packed his things, left her, and wrote a message saying “sorry.” Since he has lost his own child, Glass probably doesn’t want the President to have his. Alex, the FBI, and others watch Glass, who gets away. Alex soon spots him, and wants to arrest him, but fails and loses him again. Ned tells Alex to call him if he needs a favor. Alex calls upon Ned’s and Sampson’s help. The three drug Glass, tricking him into showing them where the Coyle children are being kept. After finding them, Alex arrests Glass. Ron Burns informs Alex that due to a lack of evidence, Glass will be in jail for a couple of days only. The First Lady, Zoe, and Ethan thank Alex and tell him the kidnapper was male and spoke into a recorder. Alex and Sampson find Glass and arrest him again, with the evidence being the recorder found in the glove compartment of his car. Glass tries to get out his gun and is shot by Alex and Sampson in self-defense.

Tariq and Hala are contacted by another man and wife, who bring them to Jibbo which means “Grandfather”. He plans on them killing themselves with a suicide capsule, which Tariq takes and dies. Hala, however, feels betrayed by the Family and shoots the man and wife, and kills Jibbo. She flees, deciding to start a new life, not knowing whom she should fight in the future.

At church, the First Lady speaks up about and for Sampson, and his wife, Billie’s idea to open up a new school, thinking it to be a good idea. The entire Cross family gets to meet the First Lady. Meanwhile, President Coyle ponders over Tariq, Jibbo, and other dead bodies. Deciding that the Family has fled, Coyle demands things go back to normal.

Other books I also liked by James Patterson include Violets Are Blue, Mary Mary, and Jack & Jill.

Post Script

Enjoy Reading Folks!

 

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