Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Alex Cross, a black Washington, D.C., police detective with a Ph.D. in psychology, and Jezzie Flanagan, a white motorcycling Secret Service agent, become lovers as they work together to apprehend a chilling psychopath who has kidnapped two children from a posh private school. The psychotic villain, who aspires to become more notorious than Lindbergh baby kidnapper Bruno Hauptmann, is effectively nightmarish. Atypical characters, sex, sometimes shocking violence, and several surprising plot twists are all attention-grabbing, while short chapters with a shifting viewpoint add brisk pacing and genuine suspense. Patterson's storytelling talent is in top form in this grisly escapist yarn. Highly recommended for public libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/92.-- Will Hepfer, SUNY at Buffalo Libs. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
This second big winter thriller by a writer named Patterson (see Fiction Forecasts, Oct. 19) features a villain (a multiple-personality serial killer/kidnapper) whom the publisher hopes will remind readers of Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter, and a hero who is compared to those of Jonathan Kellerman. Unfortunately, the novel has few merits of its own to set against those authors' works. Hero Alex Cross is in fact a black senior detective in Washington, D.C., who is also a psychiatrist and has a facile but not entirely convincing line of sentimental-cynical patter. The villain is Gary Soneji/Murphy (read Hyde/Jekyll), who kills for recognition, and finally kidnaps the kids of prominent parents. Alex is soon on the case, more enraged by Gary's killing of poor ghetto blacks than by the Lindbergh-inspired kidnapping, and becomes involved with a gorgeous, motorcycle-riding Secret Service supervisor who is not what she seems. Soneji/Murphy is eventually captured--but can the bad part of him be proven guilty? There is even a hint at the end that he may survive for a sequel, though the reader has virtually forgotten him by then. Spider reads fluently enough, but its action and characters seem to have come out of some movie-inspired never-never land. If a contemporary would-be nail-biter is to thrill as it should, it urgently needs stronger connections to reality than this book has. Come back, Thomas Harris! 150,000 first printing; Literary Guild main selection. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Touted by its publisher as "the first new fiction bestseller of 1993," Along Came a Spider opens with a gruesome multiple murder in the projects southeast of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and the kidnapping of two famous children--the son of the Treasury secretary and the daughter of a movie star--from Georgetown Day School by the school's math and computer teacher. Is the teacher (whose ransom bid is signed "Son of Lindbergh") a victim of a rare multiple personality disorder, or a psychopath who feigns multiple personalities to prove his brilliance and escape punishment? African-American psychologist Alex Cross, a widowed district police detective with two children and a very wise grandmother, seeks the answer in tense collaboration with FBI and Secret Service agents. As Son of Lindbergh produces one surprise after another, Cross is startled to find both interracial love and icy psychopathology within the team of law enforcement professionals pursuing the clever, manipulative criminal. Patterson, author of such previous Little, Brown novels as The Thomas Berryman Number (1975) and The Midnight Club (1989), seems a bit less confident inside the mind of a possible psychopath than retired psychologist Jonathan Kellerman in his Alex Delaware mysteries (or Thomas Harris in his Hannibal Lector books); but Along Came a Spider's fascinating characters and pulse-pounding plot ensure that Patterson's latest will keep readers guessing from chapter one's mutilated corpses to the execution of someone (who?) in the novel's final pages. (Reviewed Sept. 15, 1992)0316693642Mary Carroll
Kirkus Book Review
Catchy title; too bad the psychothriller behind it--despite the publisher's big push--is a mostly routine tale of cop vs. serial-killer. And it's really too bad for Patterson (The Midnight Club, 1988, etc.) that William Diehl's new thriller, Primal Fear (reviewed above), covers some of the same territory with superior energy and skill. A few charms lift this above run-of-the-mill: Patterson's hero, D.C. psychologist/cop Alex Cross, is black, while his lover, Secret Service honcho Jezzie Flanagan, is white; and the narrative moves briskly by cutting between Cross's ambling account and a sharper third-person tracking, mostly of the killer's movements. He is Gary Soneji--a nobody living a deceptively quiet life as Gary ``Murphy''--who has killed 200 people and now wants to commit the Crime of the Century and become Somebody: Soneji/Murphy snatches the daughter of a top actress and the son of the US secretary of the treasury. Enter Cross and Flanagan, whose bad luck at finding kids and kidnapper--who, taunting the cops, kills an FBI agent and gets away with a $10-million payoff, while one of the kids turns up dead--changes only when Soneji/Murphy, cracking up, holds hostage to a McDonald's and is wounded by a cop. Here, Patterson's tale begins to mirror Diehl's: Soneji/Murphy turns out to suffer from the same sensational psychosis as Diehl's villain; and in the ensuing trial, Soneji/Murphy's lawyer pursues a defense similar to that of Diehl's attorney-hero. But where Diehl's villain roars on the page, Soneji/Murphy barely smirks; and while Diehl's courtroom crackles with intelligence, Patterson's is almost transcript-dull. Patterson does wind up, however, with a fine noir twist. Cross is a likable hero, but with a watery plot and weak villain--Hannibal Lecter would eat Soneji for breakfast--he doesn't have much to work with here. (First printing of 150,000; Literary Guild Dual Selection for March)