Along Came a Spider by James Patterson is the first novel in the long-standing Alex Cross detective series.
0 out of 10 stars. James Patterson’s novels are hit or miss. This one has some pretty sick child murders and mutilation of women. Pass on this one. The film was much better without all the disgusting stuff.
This novel was written in 1993 and came out a year after Lawrence Block’s Walk Among the Tombstones. In the second chapter is a gory murder in which the killer mutilated two women by cutting off their breasts. An identical scene is in the opening pages of Walk Among the Tombstones which was written a year earlier. So did James Patterson copy Lawrence Block? Or was their a true crime that occurred pre-1992 that inspired both novels? We may never know. Walk among the Tombstones is an excellent novel, 10 stars, and reviewed here.
One of my pet peeves is when is a novelist takes a moment in history and tries to re-write it, starring one of their characters. That’s what happens in the opening chapter of Along Came a Spider. A 12 year-old boy plots and carries out the murder and kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s 20 month old son. The boy wear a pair of size 9 men’s boots stuffed with paper and cloth and intentionally leaves prints everywhere. He climbs a ladder to the child’s nursery, stuffs a ball in his mouth, and buries him alive less than two miles from his house. The entire escapade takes less than 30 minutes.
That boy grows to be Gary Murphy, husband and father. But on the side he’s a deadly serial killer and kidnapper of children. By 1992 he is living in Washington, D.C. which is where Detective Alex Cross lives with his grandmother and two children. On a December morning only a few days before Christmas, Alex is called to the scene of a triple homicide. Two black women, a mother and daughter who were both prostitutes, are found murdered in their home with their breasts sliced off and nowhere to be found. Beside them on the floor is the daughter’s 3 year old son dead. Gary committed this murder, but you don’t find out until later in the novel because the kidnapping takes center stage.
The morning the three murders are found, Gary also kidnaps the 9 year old daughter of a famous actress, Maggie Rose Dunne, and her best friend Michael Goldberg, the son of the Secretary of the Treasury. He’s been working as a math/computer science teacher at the private academy where the rich and famous send their kids. He’s known to them by the name Gary Soneji.
Very quickly things turn dangerous as Michael is found dead and the kidnapping goes awry. Then Alex gets a little too close to the Secret Service agent investigating, Jezzie Flanagan.
What I hated most about this novel is that it stretches out way too long, over a period of two years, during which time no one knows what happened to Maggie. Eventually they find her, but those two years for her parents must have been agony. And I’m sure they ruined Maggie.
0 out of 10 stars. I found myself skimming this book because I really hated the language and situations in this novel. I’m not a fan of Patterson’s writing and quite often his novels are written by ghostwriters and not Patterson himself. I recommend the film over this novel. Much more rewarding.