Cross Justice, James Patterson, author; Ruben Santiago-Hudson, narrator
At first, when the narrator starts reading, it is a bit off-putting. His voice almost lulls the reader into a trance, but then, as the story develops, it picks up a cadence and tone that keeps the reader enthralled and wide awake. Each character has a distinct voice and personality. This book has a similar plot line to the recent book by Michael Connelly, which also has a similar title, “The Crossing”. There is a criminal who insists he is falsely accused and law enforcement is corrupt; drugs, rape and murder are afoot. Then the storyline veers in an entirely different direction. If you liked “The Crossing”, you will probably also like this book and vice versa.
When the book opens, there is a beautiful woman named Coco in a Palm Beach mansion. She is selecting clothes and jewelry from the closet of the woman she has just murdered. She shows no remorse for the crime, but rather thinks she was justified in performing her heinous act. Coco is a cross dresser, a man, who in that moment of time truly believes he is a woman.
At the same time as this occurs, Dr. Alex Cross, his wife Bree, their son and daughter are in a car on their way to Starksville, North Carolina. Alex has not returned to see his family there in decades. He has few memories of his life there, and some of those that he has are distorted. Alex and Bree are both detectives with the Washington DC metro police. Recently, they have suffered through some trying times, and this trip, taking Alex back to his roots, is supposed to help them recover from that stress. Making matters a bit more complicated for them is the fact that their cousin Stefan has recently been arrested. He has been accused of drugging and raping a young female high school student and of an even more serious crime, the horribly brutal rape and murder of a young male high school student. Both victims were students in the school in which he was a teacher, and the evidence has mounted up against him. Stefan insists he has been framed. Alex and Bree agree to keep an open mind and work together with Naomi, their niece, who is the lawyer defending Stefan, to see if they can find out if he is telling the truth about his innocence. Starksville’s history is not unblemished. There is racial tension and a questionable justice system.
During their stay in Starksville attempts are made on their lives, attempts are made to frame their daughter and Alex learns devastating secrets about his family that turn his life upside down, drastically altering all of the ideas he had previously held about his mother and father. When Alex learns that his father did not die in North Carolina, but actually, unknown to all but an uncle, had moved to a town in Florida where he eventually killed himself, Alex decided to travel there to see what he could discover about that part of his father’s life. He flew into Palm Beach and opportunely became involved in, and assisted in, the investigation of the murders committed by Coco, the above cross dresser. Meeting the detectives in charge of that case, as he pursued information on his father’s last days, eventually proved invaluable to him in his investigation into the crimes committed in Starksville.
As this story proceeds, the reader will no doubt wonder how both of these cases are related, if they are at all. The many sub plots in this well constructed mystery are knitted together so logically that the narrative does not get confusing, but rather it gets more and more suspenseful. Slowly, the hidden lives and secrets of many of the characters come to light, and the connections between Palm Beach and Starksville will shock the reader as the crimes are solved.
Take this book on an airplane, to the beach, to a bench in the park; listen to it in the car as you drive. Allow yourself to be swept away into the world of a really creative mystery with a conclusion you will never guess!