The Barnes & Noble Review
Why are James Patterson's novels so successful? Is it the gritty plotlines? The colorful cast of good guys and bad guys? The pithy, addictive chapters (the literary equivalent of potato chips)? Or could it be those quirky TV commercials featuring Patterson himself rhyming up a storm in front of the camera?
It's all of the above, of course, but the real reason Patterson has become such a force to be reckoned with on bestseller lists is his uncomplicated, no-nonsense, bare-knuckles approach to storytelling. No fat here! In a time when some authors don't know when to shut up, filling their narratives with too much inflated detail, Patterson has honed to razor-sharp perfection the art of the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
Violets Are Blue, the author's exciting sequel to Roses Are Red, explodes like a potent combination of Coca-Cola and Pop Rocks. It opens with D.C. Detective Alex Cross on the verge of losing his mind. Betsy Cavalierre, his former partner and girlfriend, has just been found brutally murdered. The culprit is none other than Cross's chief nemesis -- the brilliant, sadistic Mastermind. Only moments after arriving at the scene, Cross receives a taunting call from the madman, with savage details of the murder and threats to take out the detective next, along with his children and his mother. To make matters worse, when two joggers are found dead in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco -- their bodies drained of blood and riddled with puncture wounds and tooth marks -- Cross finds himself involved in an FBI case shockingly similar to an unsolved case from earlier in his career. Soon Cross descends into a Hades of sick sex and ritualistic murder involving a group of modern-day vampires that may or may not be the real thing. And let's not forget that the twisted Mastermind is never far behind, nipping at Cross's heels like Old Scratch himself, at every twist and turn in the novel.
Taut, fast-paced, and leavened with Patterson's dark sense of humor, Violets Are Blue is a wickedly entertaining read, an old-fashioned story about the powers of good and evil. Mark another notch on Patterson's belt: This book puts the thrill in thriller. (Stephen Bloom)
Read an Excerpt
Without Any Warning
NOTHING EVER STARTS where we think it does. So of course this doesn't begin with the vicious and cowardly murder of an FBI agent and good friend named Betsey Cavalierre. I only thought that it did. My mistake, and a really big and painful one.
I arrived at Betsey's house in Woodbridge, Virginia, in the middle of the night. I'd never been there before, but I didn't have any trouble finding it. The FBI and EMS were already there. There were flashing red and yellow lights everywhere, seeming to paint the lawn and front porch with bright, dangerous streaks.
I took a deep breath and walked inside. My sense of balance was off. I was reeling. I acknowledged a tall blond FBI agent I knew named Sandy Hammonds. I could see that Sandy had been crying. She was a friend of Betsey's.
On a hallway table I saw Betsey's service revolver. Beside it was a printed reminder for her next shooting qualifier at the FBI range. The irony stung.
I forced myself to walk down a long hallway that led from the living room to the back of the house. The house looked to be close to a hundred years old and was filled with the kind of country clutter that she'd loved. The master bedroom was situated at the end of the hall.
I knew instantly that the murder had happened in there. The FBI techs and the local police were swarming around the open door like angry wasps near a threatened hive. The house was strangely, eerily quiet. This was as bad as it gets, worse than anything else. Ever.
Another one of my partners was dead.
The second one brutally murdered in two years. And Betsey had been much more than just a partner. How could this have happened? What did it mean? I saw Betsey's small body sprawled on the hardwood floor and I went cold. My hand flew to my face, a reflex I had no control over.
The killer had stripped off her nightclothes. I didn't see them anywhere in the bedroom. The lower body was coated with blood. He'd used a knife. He'd punished Betsey with it. I desperately wanted to cover her, but I knew I couldn't.
Betsey's brown eyes were staring up at me, but they saw nothing. I remembered kissing those eyes and that sweet face. I remembered Betsey's laugh, high-pitched and musical. I stood there for a long time, mourning Betsey, missing her terribly. I wanted to turn away, but I didn't. I just couldn't leave her like this.
As I stood there in the bedroom, trying to figure out something coherent about Betsey's murder, the cell phone in my jacket pocket went off. I jumped. I grabbed it, but then I hesitated. I didn't want to answer.
"Alex Cross," I finally spoke into the receiver.
I heard a machine-filtered voice and it cut right through me. I shuddered against my will.
"I know who this is and I even know where you are. At poor, dear, butchered Betsey's. Do you feel a little bit like a puppet on a string, Detective? You should," said the Mastermind. "Because that's what you are. You're my favorite puppet, in fact."
"Why did you kill her?" I asked the monster. "You didn't have to do this."
He laughed a mechanical laugh and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. "You ought to be able to figure that out, no? You're the famous Detective Alex Cross. You have all those big, important cases notched on your belt. You caught Gary Soneji, Casanova. You solved Jack and Jill. Christ, you're impressive."
I spoke in a low voice. "Why don't you come after me right now? How about tonight? As you say, you know where I am."
The Mastermind laughed again, quietly, almost under his breath. "How about I kill your grandmother and your three kids tonight? I know where they are too. You left your partner with them, didn't you? You think he can stop me? John Sampson doesn't have a chance against me."
I hung up and ran out of the house in Woodbridge. I called Sampson in Washington and he picked up on the second ring.
"Everything okay there?" I gasped. "Everything's fine, Alex. No problems here. You don't sound too good, though. What's up? What happened?"
"He said he's coming for you and Nana and the kids," I told John. "The Mastermind."
"Not going to happen, sugar. Nobody will get past me. I hope to hell he tries."
"Be careful, John. I'm on my way back to Washington right now. Please be careful. He's crazy. He didn't just kill Betsey, he defiled her."
I ended the call with Sampson and I sprinted full-out toward my old Porsche.
The cell phone rang again before I got to the car.
"Cross," I answered, still running as I spoke, trying to steady the phone against my chin and ear.
It was him again. He was laughing maniacally. "You can relax, Dr. Cross. I can hear your labored breathing. I'm not going to hurt them tonight. I was just fucking with you. Having some fun at your expense.
"You're running, aren't you? Keep running, Dr. Cross. But you won't be fast enough. You can't get away from me. It's you I want. You're next, Dr. Cross."...