Pop Goes the Weasel (Alex Cross Series #5)
  • Pop Goes the Weasel (Alex Cross Series #5)
  • Pop Goes the Weasel (Alex Cross Series #5)

Pop Goes the Weasel (Alex Cross Series #5)

4.1 294
by James Patterson

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Detective Alex Cross is back - and he's in love. But his happiness is threatened by a series of chilling murders in Washington D.C., murders with a pattern so twisted, it leaves investigators reeling. Cross's ingenious pursuit of the killer produces a suspect - a British diplomat named Geoffrey Shafer. But proving that Shafer is the murderer becomes a potentially…  See more details below


Detective Alex Cross is back - and he's in love. But his happiness is threatened by a series of chilling murders in Washington D.C., murders with a pattern so twisted, it leaves investigators reeling. Cross's ingenious pursuit of the killer produces a suspect - a British diplomat named Geoffrey Shafer. But proving that Shafer is the murderer becomes a potentially deadly task. As the dimplomat engages in a brilliant series of surprising countermoves, in and out of the courtroom, Alex and his fiancee become hopelessly entangled with the most memorable nemesis Alex Cross has ever faced.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review

Death Is on the Loose

James Patterson, bestselling author of Cat & Mouse, Along Came a Spider, and Kiss the Girls, returns with Pop Goes the Weasel, his latest gripping dark-crime tale featuring brilliant profiler Alex Cross. While resembling the gritty psychological works of John Sandford and Thomas Harris, Patterson has firmly wedged his own easy-flowing, spine-tingling niche in the genre, and has mined an area of suspense that is clearly all his own.

A serial killer called the Weasel is slaughtering women in the slums of D.C. And family man Geoffrey Shafer is much more than he appears. Not only is Shafer a diplomat with the British Embassy — and so has diplomatic immunity — but he also takes himself to the edge of sanity with hallucinogenic drugs, disguises himself as a black cab driver, and rolls the dice to decide the life-or-death fates of his black female fares. Soon Alex Cross and his partner, John Sampson, are hunting the elusive killer, but before they are even able to properly begin their investigation, their racist police chief forces them to look into the by-the-numbers murder of a rich white man instead.

When the Weasel, who is also a former MI-6 agent, begins sending email messages to three of his former cohorts concerning a demented online role-playing game, the situation grows even more deranged. To make matters worse, Sampson's ex-wife is found murdered in a ghetto, and the angry detectives willingly disregard their ordersandagain return to tracking the Weasel. When Cross's fiancée, Christine, is kidnapped while vacationing in Bermuda, and Cross is emailed to quit the hunt, his resolve to continue the pursuit is reinforced. But when Shafer is caught, the real battle of wits begins as a high-profile trial puts Cross's reputation, his life, and perhaps his very sanity, on the line.

The subplots in Pop Goes the Weasel are what capably tightens the novel to the breaking point as the story quickly progresses through a series of brutal crimes, which continue to move closer and closer to home. Not only do we witness Cross's search for one maniacal killer, but three other homicidal maniacs are at work over the Internet. The mix of British charm and a cold indifference to murder brews an aperitif of bloodthirsty characterization not found in fiction for a long while. As a master of lies, Shafer can dupe a jury and also take advantage of the grief-stricken to help sway events in his favor, casting doubts not only into the minds of the police, but also into those of the readers who already know the truth of the situation.

Patterson's attention to the seamy side of Washington, D.C., is also a powerful draw, since its perverse yet politically potent aspects add credible facets to both our protagonist and our psychotic villain. The author knows how to stretch out his suspense factor — his use of incredibly short chapters and increasingly taut plot elements is superior. The story flies by with such speed that you'll suffer from friction burns from turning the pages so quickly. Once again, James Patterson proves that he's more than capable of conceiving engaging, cunning stories that transcend the serial killer subgenre. Pop Goes the Weasel works as an intense character portrait that will leave readers moved and electrified.

—Tom Piccirilli

Tom Piccirilli is the author of the critically acclaimed supernatural novel Pentacle, as well as the dark-suspense mysteries Shards and The Dead Past. His short fiction has appeared in many anthologies, including The Conspiracy Files. His two latest, an exciting mystery called Sorrow's Crown and a horror novel called Hexes, have just been released.

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Product Details

Warner Books (NY)
Publication date:
Alex Cross Series, #5
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.14(w) x 6.86(h) x 1.06(d)

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Read an Excerpt


Geoffrey Shafer, dashingly outfitted in a single-breasted blue blazer, white shirt, striped tie, and narrow gray trousers from H. Huntsman & Sons, walked out of his town house at seven-thirty in the morning and climbed into a black Jaguar XJ12.

He backed the Jag slowly out of the driveway, then stepped on the accelerator. The sleek sports car rocketed up to fifty before it reached the stop sign at Connecticut Avenue, in the posh Kalorama section of Washington, D.C.

When Shafer reached the busy intersection, he didn't stop. He floored the accelerator, picking up more speed. He was doing sixty-five and ached to crash the Jag into the stately fieldstone wall bordering the avenue. He aimed the Jag closer to the wall. He could see the head-on collision, visualize it, feel it all over.

At the last possible second, he tried to avoid the deadly crash. He spun the wheel hard to the left. The sports car fish-tailed all the way across the avenue, tires screeching and burning, the smell of rubber thick in the air.

The Jag skidded to a stop, headed the wrong way on the street, the windshield issuing its glossy black stare at a barrage of early oncoming traffic.

Shafer stepped on the accelerator again and headed forward against the oncoming traffic. Every car and truck began to honk loud, sustained blasts.

Shafer didn't even try to catch his breath or bearings. He sped along the avenue, gaining speed. He zoomed across Rock Creek Bridge and made a left, then another left onto Rock Creek Parkway.

A tiny scream of pain escaped from his lips. It was involuntary, coming swiftly and unexpectedly. A moment of fear,weakness.

He floored the gas pedal again, and the engine roared. He was doing seventy, then pressing to eighty. He zigged and zagged around slower-moving sedans, sport-utility vehicles, a soot-covered A&P delivery truck.

Only a few honked now. Other drivers on the parkway were terrified, scared out of their minds.

He exited the Rock Creek Parkway at fifty miles an hour, then he gunned it again.

P Street was even more crowded at that hour than the parkway had been. Washington was just waking up and setting off to work. He could still see that inviting stone wall on Connecticut. He shouldn't have stopped. He began searching for another rock-solid object, looking for something to hit very hard. He was doing eighty miles an hour as he approached Dupont Circle. He shot forward like a ground rocket. Two lines of traffic were backed up at a red light. No way out of this one, he thought. Nowhere to go left or right.

He didn't want to rear-end a dozen cars! That was no way to end this—end his life—by smashing into a commonplace Chevy Caprice, a Honda Accord, a delivery truck.

He swerved violently to the left and veered into the lanes of traffic coming east, coming right at him. He could see the panicked, disbelieving faces behind the dusty, grime-smeared windshields. The horns started to blast, a high-pitched symphony of fear.

He ran the next light and just barely squeezed between an oncoming Jeep and a concrete-mixer truck.

He sped down M Street, then onto Pennsylvania Avenue, and headed toward Washington Circle. The George Washington University Medical Center was up ahead—a perfect ending.

The Metro patrol car appeared out of nowhere, its siren-bullhorn screaming in protest, its rotating beacon glittering, signaling for him to pull over. Shafer slowed down and pulled to the curb.The cop hurried to Shafer's car, his hand on his holster. He looked frightened and unsure.

"Get out of the car, sir," the cop said in a commanding voice. "Get out of the car right now."

Shafer suddenly felt calm and relaxed. There was no tension left in his body.

"All right. All right. I'm getting out. No problem."

"You know how fast you were going?" the cop asked in an agitated voice, his face flushed a bright red. Shafer noticed that the cop's hand was still on his gun.

Shafer pursed his lips, thought about his answer. "Well, I'd say about thirty, Officer," he finally said. "Maybe a little over the speed limit."

Then he took out an I.D. card and handed it over. "But you can't do anything about it. I'm with the British Embassy. I have diplomatic immunity."

That night, as he was driving home from work, Geoffrey Shafer started to feel that he was losing control again. He was beginning to frighten himself. His whole life had begun to revolve around a fantasy game he played called the Four Horsemen.

In the game, he was the player called Death. The game was everything to him, the only part of his life with real meaning.

He sped across town from the British Embassy, all the way to the Petworth district of Northwest. He knew he shouldn't be there, a white man in a spiffy Jaguar. He couldn't help himself, though, any more than he could that morning.

He stopped the car just before he got to Petworth. Shafer took out his laptop and typed a message to the other players, the Horsemen.


He started the Jag again and rode a few more blocks to Petworth. The usual outrageously provocative hookers were already parading up and down Varnum and Webster streets. A song called "Nice and Slow" was playing from a vibrating blue BMW. Ronnie McCall's sweet voice blended into the early evening.

The girls waved to him and showed their large, flat, pert, or flabby breasts. Several wore colorful bustiers with matching hot pants and shiny silver or red platform shoes with pointy heels. He slowed to a stop beside a small black girl who looked to be around sixteen and had an unusually pretty face. Her legs were long and slender for such a petite body. She wore too much makeup for his taste. Still, she was hard to resist, so why should he?

"Nice car. Jaguar. I like it a lot," she cooed, then smiled and made a sexy little "O" with her lipsticked mouth. "You're cute, too, mistah."

He smiled back at her. "Jump in, then. Let's go for a test ride. See if it's true love or just infatuation." He glanced around the street quickly. None of the other girls were working this corner.

"A hundred for full-service, sweetie?" she asked as she wiggled her tight little butt inside the Jag. Her perfume smelled like eau de bubble gum, and she seemed to have bathed in it.

"As I said, get into the car. A hundred dollars is petty cash for me."

He knew he shouldn't be picking her up in the Jaguar, but he took her for a joy ride anyway. He couldn't help himself now. He brought the girl to a small, wooded park in a part of Washington called Shaw. He parked in a thicket of fir trees that hid the car from sight. He looked at the prostitute, and she was even smaller and younger than he had thought. "How old are you?" he asked.

"How old you want me to be?" she said, and smiled. "Sweetie, I need the money first. You know how it works."

"Yes. But do you?" he asked.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a switchblade knife. He had it at her throat in an instant.

"Don't hurt me," she whispered. "Just be cool."

"Get out of the car. Slowly. Don't you dare scream. You be cool."

Shafer got out with her, staying close, the knife still pressed to the hollow of her throat.

"It's all just a game, darling," he explained. "My name is Death. You're a very lucky girl. I'm the best player of all." As if to prove it, he stabbed her for the first time.

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Pop Goes the Weasel 4.1 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 294 reviews.
Kasia_S More than 1 year ago
The fifth installment of the amazing series doesn't disappoint, if anything it makes me want to get back into the complex lives of these strong characters the moment that last page is turned. These books have a tendency of sucking me in hard and fast and making my mind wander around the story line even when I'm not reading it. I think there are sixteen or so books now in this series and I am always trying my best not to peak at what they are about, spoilers galore can happen, so I try my best to know as little as possible about each before I start reading it. James Patterson did a great job of creating the Cross family, making the reader care and worry about them, after all when a detective is being stalked and harassed by crazed psychopaths his family fall prey to them as well, making me stressed out but completely absorbed into the plot. This time the nemesis is not only dangerous and blood thirsty but seems to have no regard for his own life, the games is tastier when the stakes are ultra high, making Alex's life extra complicated, his good deeds seem to be turning on him when a suspect turns the tables, making a mockery of the trail, making people question whether Alex caught the right guy. Never mind that the evidence points to the truth, the dirty game of lies and deception has reached new levels, making this a tasty and intense read. The killer plays a game with 3 other shady characters, throwing dice to pick their next victim and ways of disposing them, whether the killings are random or planned, they send shockwaves through all the pages. Peace and quiet never lasts long at the Cross house, no matter what great things develop. At one point something happens to one of the characters that made me recoil in shock, adding an extra ounce of worry to the whole story line, I absolutely loved the ending and I won't pretend that I wasn't close to tears reading it. Well a few tears but still...I'm a softie deep down there somewhere. This book was really fun and crazy and thrilling and all the good things one looks for in a thriller. As always I recommend reading in order to get the most out of all the delicious mayhem that twists harder and harder with each novel. Patterson had managed to keep a hum over the whole tale with someone's tragedy and it really made the book better than I expected, I can't wait to read the next. - Kasia S.
missouriRB More than 1 year ago
I am enjoying the Alex Cross series. Every book I've read so far has kept me in suspense. Once I finish one book I can't wait to start reading the next.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After that whimpy book When the Wind Blows Patterson is back. I throughly enjoyed this book. I really missed Alex. I love knowing who the murder is and the Knowing what each one is doing till they finally meet. The love angle is also very romantic. It was alittle hoky at the end but, it will be interesting to see if Christine can tame the wild bull. I hope not. I would really miss Alex the wild man.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Give it a chance u will be glad if u do
Guest More than 1 year ago
i thought the romance dialog was very corny and a lot of the references to alex's family were repeats from previous books. the time sequence was all out of wack and the end of the love section of this story was very predictable. mr patterson did do a fair job with the geoffrey shafer character, bit i felt that could still have been fleshed out some.a very disappointing effort from a good writer i have enjoyed in the past.
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"Okay?" She traied. "What is it?"
bobbiBG More than 1 year ago
I love Patterson books and "Pop Goes the Weasel" is right on track. I have read many of his books but decided to start with the #1 book of the Alex Cross series and work my way through all of them in succession. Fabulous! I recommend it to anyone!
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Lauren maxwell the tooth fariy
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Crooker More than 1 year ago
If you are an Alex Cross fan this will be a must to read. It is page turner and flows well. It was hard to put it down.
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It's hard to go wrong with Alex Cross. Always enjoyable.
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