Bane of Kings reviews the Alex Cross novel Cat and Mouse by James Patterson, the fourth novel in the bestselling series.
“Full of plot twists and turns, Patterson makes the pages fly by.”~The Founding Fields
James Patterson is perhaps one of my favourite authors, and possibly the most prolific author that I’ve heard of. Having discovered the Alex Cross series a few months ago with Along Came a Spider, I’m slowly catching up on the series that has at least fifteen books, most likely more, and has really opened me up to the wide range of novels that the Crime genre has to offer.
Cat and Mouse is the fourth Alex Cross novel, and follows on from Jack and Jill, its brilliant predecessor, which was also a Number 1 bestseller. Like Jack & Jill, Cat and Mouse has two killers on the loose, one in America, the other in Europe, and they both believe that Alex Cross, the main star of the show, is their only worthy nemesis in the game that they’ve planned.
One of those killers, Cross has encountered before. Gary Soneji, the main villain of Along Came a Spider, is dying, and is even scarier when he has nothing to lose, especially when Alex Cross is his number one target.
The other, the enigmatic Mr. Smith, is being hunted throughout Europe by Thomas Augustine Pierce. But, as the novel draws to a close, will Pierce or Cross be able to stop Soneji and Mr. Smith?
The problem with playing catch-up in a long-running series told mainly from one person’s point of view is that by just the fourth book, heck – even by the second, you’ll know that Alex Cross will save the day. Because after all, there wouldn’t be any sequels, would there?
Another thing that bugged me in Cat and Mouse is the fact that the chapters are very, very short, with the average chapter having only a couple of pages, which in a way, although is annoying, does speed up the pace. Cat and Mouse is an action-packed ride, and quite often, when you find yourself only wanting to read a couple of chapters, you’ll end up reading twelve. And then twenty. And then thirty…
And before you realise, you’re a good three-quarters into the book. As expected from a Patterson novel though, there are plenty of twists and turns, including one at the end that I didn’t see coming. In fact, it totally blew me away.
Proclaimed to be the best Alex Cross novel of them all, Cat and Mouse certainly was a page-turner, but unfortunately – I didn’t enjoy it as much as Along Came a Spider and Jack and Jill.
A good thing about this series though is that you don’t really have to read the series in order, as most of them deal with a separate villain (apart from the recurring characters like Soneji and the Mastermind later on in the series), whom normally has something to do with the title. For example, the main villains in Jack and Jill used the codenames, Jack and Jill.
Character development is okay, although not the best, as Patterson puts in a subplot involving Alex falling in love for the first time since his wife was killed before the series started. Saying that though, the characters were nonetheless interesting and enjoyable. Aside Alex Cross is his best friend and ‘partner’, John Sampson, who is possibly one of my favourite ‘good guys’ in the whole series.
Patterson knows how to write villains well, as I find that in bad Crime / Thriller books you will often find yourself cheering for the bad guy. However, Cat and Mouse makes us want to hate Soneji and Mr. Smith, and that makes it even more shocking when you learn the true identity of the European killer.
On the other side of the scale, Cross is a very likeable man, and you will find yourself rooting for him, as he is pushed to his limits in one of his hardest cases yet. He’s also a single parent, as well, looking after two kids, with the help of a relative, known in the neighbourhood of “Nana Mama”, her real name being Regina, all of whom find themselves in the thick of the fighting at more than one point in the whole series.
More Alex Cross: Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls, Jack and Jill, Cat and Mouse, Pop Goes the Weasel, Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Four Blind Mice, The Big Bad Wolf, London Bridges, Mary, Mary, Cross, Double Cross, Cross Country, Alex Cross’ Trial, I, Alex Cross, Cross Fire, Kill Alex Cross