Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Kiss the Girls: James Patterson, August 24—29, 2015
My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊
Alex Cross is back and this time he has two serial killers to catch instead of one – and his niece has been kidnapped too.
For the “Doctor Detective” who is both psychologist and policeman, it’s an interesting set up. There’s Casanova, who kidnaps young women and keeps them as a harem before brutally murdering disobedient “rejects”, and the Gentleman Caller who has a similar modus operandi but chucks in some flowers.
The relationship between the killers becomes a focal point for Cross, and he explores the idea of “twinning”, whereby they are dependent on each other. Are they friends or competitors?
Not unlike Along Came A Spider, the premise overpromises and under-delivers. Patterson is more inclined to note Cross’s credentials and throw the term “twinning” around than really, truly tease out what that means for the killers. Again it lacks the depth and misses out on its potential.
The first half of the book spends time with Casanova and a victim named Kate which is the most interesting part. Their mental sparring makes Kate a strong and genuinely engaging character. The focus is more heavily on Cross in the second half, and his relationships are very well written. The investigation is less gripping; there is a fair amount of Deux ex machina and he appears to be neither a great doctor nor detective. Some quite obvious leads are missed.
The story builds towards a strong climax with a twist that is neither good or bad. It’s a bit run-of-the-mill, but the cliffhangers are gripping.
It was good to see Sampson having a little more page time, but most of the buddy cop stuff is still told, rather than shown. Other elements are improved: it feels more “present”, but split into some 130 chapters it feels many of the partitions are unnecessary and drama is artificially ramped up with melodramatic statements every few pages just to end the chapter on.
Overall, Kiss the Girls is better than the previous book and the series holds a lot of promise, though some of the niggles haven’t yet been ironed out.