Following to my review of “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie (here’s a link if you didn’t read it) I was in a perfect mood for another round of thrill and mystery. Knowing that I’m not well-rounded when it comes to novels, I had sought some assistance from the online community. Some people suggested “Along Came a Spider” and “Kiss The Girls” by James Patterson.
The name “Along Came a Spider” rang a bell, it was movie I had watched many years ago. Since I’m a Morgan Freeman fanatic, I had to watch that movie back then. What I didn’t know that it was based on a novel.
Apparently, “Kiss The Girls” was also made into a movie and it was starred by Morgan Freeman! Anyway, I didn’t know that either, but I went ahead and got me a copy of this book.
The novel talks about an African American detective/psychologist from D.C called “Alex Cross”. The man came home one day to find his family gathered there since they were worried about the possibility of his niece “Naomi Cross” or “Scoochie” as he calls her; being missing. Naomi studies in North Carolina, where an infamous rapist/serial killer known by “Casanova” is active.
Alex leaves his jurisdiction and flies there to be involved in finding here. Meanwhile, Casanova was doing his hobby of abducting top-notch women, raping, and sometimes killing them. Alex started to connect the dots and reached to a conclusion that Naomi was kidnapped by Casanova.
“Dr. Kate McTiernan” who is a physician and martial-arts lady went missing. As readers, we know that Casanova was stalking her and prowling around, and eventually, he broke into her home, and succeeded in snatching her.
Casanova, keeps his “harem” in an unknown location, where he dresses them up and rapes them. He has some strict house rules like women speaking to each other is prohibited, they should not resist, and many other sick stuff. By mere coincidence and some physical effort, Kate managed to break free. When she went out of the captivity location, she turned around and didn’t find the house. After some Casanova-Kate chase, she took the decision of throwing herself from a high hill and into the river. A couple of young boys found Kate on the river bank, and contacted the authorities.
Another monster was rising in the west; California to be specific. This guy had called himself “The Gentleman Caller” he’s a 2nd Casanova with the addition of the gory element. The Gentleman Caller likes to rape his women, and disfigure them, moreover, the man likes the publicity, so he sent some news agency a detailed description of the process.
Back to North Carolina, Kate woke up, and our main man was trying to ask her about Casanova, but the lady was severely physically and emotionally damaged. Later on, she got discharged and joined Alex in his investigation as primary witness.
The FBI had some info that they might have a hit on The Gentleman Caller’s true identity, they were suspecting some creep doctor there, therefore, our party goes to Cali to chip in. After a long surveillance, they managed to box the creepy doctor while he’s in the act. After shooting some officers, he tried to get away, but Alex was determined to catch this guy, so, with some heroic action, he grabbed onto the man’s car, but The Gentleman Caller managed to break loose.
Now with the Gentleman identity exposed, the FBI and Alex raided his house to search for clues that might help, maybe he is associated with Casanova? With some insight from Alex, they managed to find a photo for the Gentleman Caller with some doctor from the university years. This photo was well hidden behind a secret door in his closet. Naturally, all eyes went to keep a close tab on this doctor who was in North Carolina. Coincidence?
They kept observing this alleged Casanova, later on, they arrested him and the media went crazy. Alex was convinced thanks to his intuition that they caught the wrong guy, therefore, he ran his own “connect the dots” and came up with the result that Casanova is some officer. Alex followed this guy from a place to another, until he went physical with him. Turned out that this officer was having a secret affair with a woman, and he’s surly not Casanova.
Casanova and his partner in crime paid a visit to Kate’s home, and beat her to the verge of death. Who the hell is this Casanova? Finally, Alex and his childhood partner decided to investigate some woods in North Carolina using some old maps from the era of slavery and the underground railroad. They found a trapdoor which led to Casanova’s heaven.
Things went hot down there, Alex’s partner was hurt, and the monster-couple fled the scene. Alex was determined to catch the two, so he shot down the Caller, but Casanova ran away.
The abducted women went home and everything was OK, the crimes had stopped, and Alex was the hero. Naturally, with Casanova on the loose, the FBI made sure to keep some agents around Alex and Kate. One morning, Alex was spending sometime with Kate. He went on with his morning jog, only to find out that the FBI agents were taken down. So he hurried back to the beach-house to have his final showdown with Casanova.
The final battle took place in the house, and we finally knew who Casanova was. our psychopathic killer was hiding behind a police detective’s facade called “Nick Ruskin”. After some fighting, Alex gets rid of the killer once and for all.
What do I think?
I will try to be as fair as possible:
- The novel is unnecessarily long. I don’t have problems with long books, however, my problems begin when it gets long for the sake of thickening the book. Almost 30-40% of the details the writer had mentioned, have nothing to do with the story-line. I’m not looking for a linear story, but I’m not looking for boring details all over the place either!
- The excessive usage of profanity and explicit description of every sexual scene makes the reader uncomfortable. It’s fine to add an adult element now and then, but it gets cheap after a while.
- This point in heavily connected to the previous one; you could sense the mood changes in James’ style. in the 1st half or so, there was this extensive usage of sexuality. But then, he stopped doing that completely!
- The book came out in 1995, so for that time, the plot twist was good. Yes, nowadays we see it coming since almost every book and movie do it.
- Something was grating on my nerves during the story; Kate said that “she ran away from Casanova and threw herself in the river” what kind of FBI and police forces would not try to search high and low in the proximity of the river? It seems that James caught up on this fact later on when Alex told his partner in the woods “the search teams didn’t make it here” You have a solid evidence that the lair of a psychopath is in this area, so why not turning the place upside down? The story spans out on months, so the time wasn’t limited to a day or two to cover a vast ground.
- Kate is a victim who miraculously escaped from Casanova, she refused to stay at a hotel and wanted to stay at her home. Fine, so they couldn’t force her to join the witness protection program, however, isn’t it obvious that Casanova is going to return to finish what he started? Why in God’s name didn’t they have 2-3 officers stationed at her house? You might say that the police/FBI won’t waste resources on that. Well, I could agree with that if it was your everyday’s case, but this one went almost nation-wide! In addition, they assigned FBI agents to watch over them later on, so why they didn’t do it from the get-go?
I’m not net-picking or anything, but you can’t help to ask yourself these types of basic questions.
So, how much do I give it?
For a novel that was published in 1995, I would give the story itself 8/10, but overall, in my personal opinion, I would be generous if I have given it more than 5/10.
For the time being, I believe it’s better for me to stay away from his works, despite the fact that I went ahead and got me “Along Came a Spider” and 3 more “Best sellers” of his.
Needless to say, this is my personal opinion. I’m 100% sure that James can write better than me and there’s no place for comparison. Criticizing somebody doesn’t mean disrespecting them or underestimating their skills.