Along Came a Spider: Alex Cross, book 1

Along Came a Spider: Alex Cross, book 1




The first book in the series that brought James Patterson to the attention of the public.


Publisher’s Summary
Along Came a Spider begins with the double kidnapping of the daughter of a famous Hollywood actress and the young son of the Secretary of the Treasury. And that’s only the beginning! Gary Soneji is a murderous serial kidnapper who wants to commit the crime of the century. Alex Cross is the brilliant homicide detective pitted against him. Jezzie Flanagan is the female supervisor of the Secret Service who completes one of the most unusual suspense triangles in any thriller you have ever heard.
©1993 by James Patterson; All Rights Reserved; (P)2001 by Time Warner AudioBooks


Gary Murphy is an All-American husband and father. Gary Soneji is a cold-blooded killer obsessed with the Charles Lindbergh case and becoming a famous serial killer himself. The trouble is that both Gary Murphy and Gary Soneji occupy the same physical body.
Enter Alex Cross, a Washington D.C. Police detective and psychologist. He must not only capture Soneji/Murphy but his more difficult task will be trying to understand the man or men.
Saying that Murphy and Soneji are the same person is hardly a spoiler. This is established long before the book comes to a final conclusion. As would become a trademark of James Patterson’s work, the story is never so simple and clear cut. When Soneji kidnaps the daughter of a famous Hollywood actress and the son of the Secretary of the Treasury, that sets of a plot of deception and intrigue that leads to several more deaths and an investigation into the entire Soneji investigation.
Meanwhile, Alex Cross is still in grief over the murder of his wife and mother of his children. Alex still lives in his old neighborhood with his son and daughter and the ever present Nana Mama. He develops a romance with Jezzie Flanigan, the Secret Service agent that was overseeing the protection of the Treasury Secretary’s son. All of these threads come together in the final climactic scenes of the book.
This book was originally published in 1993. This is interesting because criminal profiling was going on at the time, but the general public wasn’t very familiar with it. So Alex Cross has definitely helped to bring the concept of behavior analysis into the popular culture.
The book moves at a slower pace than what you might be used to from James Patterson. I felt like there were some scenes that I could have done without because they only served to reinforce things that had already been established and offered nothing new. A few of the scenes developing the Alex and Jezzie relationship could have been cut and a few of the others could have been made to have more impact. I feel that would have made things flow better.
While I enjoyed reading the book, there were times when a part of me just wanted Patterson to move on to a more interesting part of the story. However, given that this book is the foundation with which Patterson could build for the future, I do understand taking the extra time to really give the reader a sense of who Alex Cross is as a father, friend, doctor, police officer and person. Laying the groundwork in the beginning is a wise decision when it can be used to help pay things off further down the road.


This is James Patterson’s most well known series and it is also his first. There is quite a contrast between this book and 1st to Die which I have also read recently. This book isn’t quite as action packed and concentrates more on Alex Cross’ personal life. I feel that there are some scenes here that are redundant and could have been trimmed without changing the story much. I’m thinking in particular of some of the scenes involving Alex and Jezzie’s romance.


I would have liked to see more emotion in Charles Turner’s performance. There isn’t a lot of difference in his tone when Alex Cross is happy and when he is feeling betrayed. The story moves at a pretty methodical pace as it is, and the pace of the narration is just as slow. A greater sense of urgency in the reading would have been nice.


There are musical cues at the beginning and end of the book. There are also some music cues at the end of certain chapters. If I had to guess as to why some chapters have music cues at the end of them and others do not, I would say that these chapters would be the final ones on the audio CD version. Otherwise, everything sounds good.


I have already stated that ‘Along Came a Spider’ moves along at a slower pace than I am used to from James Patterson. This is not inherently a bad thing, however. A slower pace allows for things to sink in and for the reader to recall important details as the story unfolds. I preferred the more action heavy 1st to Die but there were also things I liked here. I think Alex Cross is a well developed character because Patterson took his time. I like his partner Sampson even though he serves only as a bit player to crack a few jokes and lighten the mood. I was able to detect the Patterson storytelling trademarks that would become more pronounced as his career continued, and so while I am enjoying Women’s Murder Club more so far, I will not be saying goodbye to Alex Cross anytime soon.


Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre

Release Date Running Time Score
Along Came a Spider: Alex Cross, Book 1 James Patterson Charles Turner Hachette Audio Mystery & Thriller 05/11/2001 12 hours, 3 minutes 7.75/10


A copy of ‘ALONG CAME A SPIDER: ALEX CROSS, BOOK 1’ was purchased from Audible for review.