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Monday, February 6, 2012

London Bridges (Alex Cross #10) (audiobook) by James Patterson

Published by Hatchette Audio in 2004
Read by Peter J. Fernandez and Denis O'Hare
Duration: 8 hours, 19 minutes

The real problem with James Patterson's works right now is that he has become a corporate thing - James Patterson, Inc. James Patterson, Inc. produces a large amount of books, movies and even TV shows, but like nationwide fast food chains that produce large amounts of food in a short amount of time, Patterson's prodigious output suffers from a serious lack of quality.

The last 3 Patterson books I've reviewed have all had gaping holes in the plot. Does he even have his work edited any longer, or do they just print them up as soon as the rough draft comes in?

London Bridges features Alex Cross, Patterson's most enduring character and the star of much better books like Kiss the Girls. In this one, Alex is confronted by two of his arch-villain foes at the same time - the Weasel and the Wolf.

Unfortunately, Alex is cheapened by being in this book. The bad guys are so extreme as to make James Bond bad guys look reasonable. People are blown up and shot in the foreheads left and right and no one ever catches these people on a video camera?

Patterson stretches the book with lots of filler such as detailing Alex's musical choices, adding product placemements (Virgin records, etc.) and an extended sexual foreplay scene that did nothing to advance the plot but lots to titilate.

Most annoying are details that should have been included, such as why does the Wolf want the Weasel working on his conspiracy? Why do their choices of weapons of mass-destruction change? Why do their target cities change? Why were Arabs and Mafia-types and Russian ex-KGB guys brought in and tossed back out of the story? Why can't Alex find out about exposure to radiation when he is exposed to a nuclear weapon? You'd think they'd debrief a fellow about that.

Alex confronts a bad guy and kills him - a climactic scene in the middle of the book. No mention is made of the injuries Alex sustained and he is never de-briefed about the situation. It is never mentioned again. Why not? Maybe there was not enough space since I got to hear more about Alex's musical choices, angst about being separated from family (they are in and out of the story at odd moments, especially since they are apparently evacuated since Washington,D.C. is threatened by the super-villains). Alex's grandmother's health issues are hinted in yet another book and the reader is constantly threatened with her impending doom, a cheap stunt to gather interest in an underdeveloped story. Oh, what a story this could have been if Patterson had really developed it and turned it into a two or three volume series!

The audio version is narrated by Peter Fernandez and Dennis O'Hare. One of them reads the chapters that are 1st person in the form of Alex Cross. The other reads the sections that are 3rd person and feature the Wolf and the Weasel. Both are strong readers and cover it quite well  - the material is just not equal to their ability.

I rate this book 2 stars out of 5 and it can be found on Amazon.com here: London Bridges by James Patterson.

Reviewed on December 8, 2007.

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