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Book review: <i>Mary Mary</i> by James Patterson

Yes, it was 413 pages long, but don't let that fool you - I finished this piece of fluff in less than a day and still managed to get everything else that I cram into a day done - including watching several hours of tv, going to two doctors appointments, and a myriad of other things. So it wasn't exactly heavy going. Furthermore, while it wasn't so awful I wanted to put it down (which is how I felt about the last James Patterson I read, 4th of July), I only read it yesterday and I've already forgotten it. So "memorable" isn't going down as one the Mary Mary's finer qualities. Aside from that, the whole experience was relatively inoffensive, not overly time consuming and contained moments where I almost found it interesting. However, I just can't wrap my head around how this guy is such a consummate best seller. I'd probably have so much more time for him if he was just some second rate, independently published thriller author who was to be found solely in dingy little bookstores - it might actually force him to put some effort in.

The content

Alex Cross is back - for I think the eleventh time, so we're not that excited. He is taking his family on a well deserved vacation to Disneyland, California - hoping to get away from it all. However, psychos don't seem to like the idea of Alex taking a holiday - and one launches their career right there, in California, and Alex gets called away from his vacation and onto the scene. While he is checking out the murder, his ex comes and makes off with his youngest, so there is a thrilling custody battle and a little meaningless character development on the side. Anyway, this murderer, who calls herself "Mary Smith", is knocking off Hollywood mum types and writing about it in great detail in emails to a member of the press. So Alex Cross's investigation begins, interjected with his custody case, his troubles with his other children, and other annoying twaddle that detracts from the not overly thrilling nature of the thriller. In my opinion, a book hasn't done it's job as a thriller unless you have trouble getting to sleep at night because you are dwelling on the story. Well, I slept like a baby after this one.

Okay, so I have read other James Patterson books before - even his two earliest Alex Cross novels; Along Came A Spider and Kiss The Girls. I can't say I remember them that well, because I did read them some years ago, but I do recall them being pretty scary and more reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs. However, Mary Mary gave me a totally different vibe... less of the thrill, more of the character development. And not overly good character development, but points for trying, James Patterson! I think what was getting to me was the fact that it seemed like maybe James had read a bit too much Walter Mosley lately - and was playing with the kind of character development Mosley manages so effortlessly and beautifully. James Patterson didn't fair so well though. To me it came across SOUNDING like a pale imitation of a Walter Mosley novel - from the concern about his kids, to his 'Nana-Mama', to his best friend with whom he grew up the 'the hood' who always calls Alex 'sugar'. He even MENTIONS Walter Mosley, so I know he's read him! But it all just sounded a bit contrived and... white. And totally unnecessary for a pulp thriller. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but for God's sake, do it right!

Who is this book for?

Oh, I don't know. Someone not very choosy with an hour or so of time to kill. Someone with a doctors appointment and a measly waiting room selection, perhaps? Or maybe it's for die hard James Patterson fans. I wouldn't know.

If you like this book, you would also like...

If you liked the way Alex Cross's character is heading, do yourself a favour and read Walter Mosley instead. He just does it so much better! And while they aren't thrillers, they still have a detective, whodunit atmosphere. You won't be disappointed. And if you aren't feeling that highbrow, read a little Tami Hoag - another harmless and non time consuming thriller.

In short

Title: Mary Mary
Author: James Patterson
Publisher: Warner Books
ISBN: 0446619035
Year published: 2005
Pages: 413
Review Type: