Thursday, 5 December 2013

Cross My Heart by James Patterson

I trudged aimlessly through the dark, empty streets of Washington, haunted by the memory of my son Ali telling me that the only way to kill a zombie was to destroy its brain.

After reading this opening line, I will now add a new label to this blog called: walking opening. In such an opening a character is walking. To where and why is hardly ever made apparent up front. Characters are, as in this case, just wandering aimlessly. They are sometimes emotional, drunk or simply at a loose end. In any case, it feels like the character is late for the beginning of the book and is walking to the first major event. In a best case scenario he is walking away from the first event of the novel. Does it ever occur to anyone to begin the novel with the event instead of walking us towards it or away from it? In any case we are starting to see a lot of this, which means it is on the verge of becoming an uncreative cliche.  Books like The Long Walk excluded of course.

Despite the walking there is the faintest glimmer of something interesting flickering from behind the words. I don't like zombies but that isn't really the point with this line. It raises a question. However, next sentence and paragraph don't:

It was 3 a.m. Storms punished the city.

The time and a weather report. At least with this report we get the specific time. Walking in bad weather is even worse, as we learn a couple of paragraphs later.

Not even the pouring rain could slow me or soothe the agony that burned through every inch of my body because of what had been done to my family.

I don't know about you, but I'm visualizing scenes from this music video.

Chapter 1 (begins sixteen days earlier):

Sitting in a parked work van on Fifth Street on a beautiful April morning, Marcus Sunday used high-definition Leica binoculars to monitor Alex Cross's house and felt a genuine thrill, thinking that the great detective was sure to make an appearance sometime in the next half hour or so.

That first sentence is also the first paragraph. A bit of a run-on sentence. It could easily be broken up into a couple of sentences because of with the multiple ideas conveyed. Naturally, this sentence is set in a vehicle and mentions the weather. Then the next paragraph begins:

After all, it was Thursday and seven thirty in the morning.

Why start a new paragraph? And time should be written out as numbers, as in 7:30. I know the author knows this because he starts doing so later. Consistency is our friend.

First thing said - somewhere in chapter 2:

"Not another one?"

That's exactly what I'm thinking about this author's books.

Verdict: Fail

Theodore Moracht

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