Monday, April 5, 2010


ACCEPTANCE! - Mitch Albom - the five people you meet in heaven

Well, I struggled with my choice of the final novel for this challenge. Originally, I thought, The Waterproof Bible might do the trick -- usually anything even remotely linked to the Bible sends me into a traumatized fetal position -- but then I read Corey's review and thought, well, maybe. Once I started reading it though, I couldn't stop and decided that it was too similar to the type of novel I thoroughly enjoy -- Come, Thou Tortoise -- being my latest favourite. (Sorry Steve Zipp, I still have to get my hands on a copy of Yellowknife.)

So I went to the library, began with the A's and came across Mitch Albom. Immediately, I recognized the five people you meet in heaven as something which was likely to send me screaming and howling and running furiously in the other direction: trite warm fuzzies a l'americaine.

First, I have to take issue with whoever wrote the inside flap of this book. " enchanting, beautifully written novel..." Beautifully written???? Give your head a shake! Pages 62-64 contain a seven paragraph mini-chapter on the protagonist's life in the army. In those seven paragraphs, Albom begins each and every one of their nineteen sentences with either "Eddie learned" or "He learned". BORING!!! While I might be able to concede that Albom wanted to emphasize the Army as a place of learning, I wish Albom had (and you will forgive me), learned how to use a THESAURUS.

The story, which I suspected would be brutally mind numbing, was instead, periodically charming. It begins at the Ruby Pier Amusement Park where Eddie is the maintenance man. He is unhappy and bored with life. This will not remain a problem for him as he dies on this his 83rd birthday while trying to save the life of a young girl who is in the path of a falling cart.

He awakens in "heaven" and meets five people. (Big surprise, eh?) The first is a Blue Man who says, "There are five people you will meet in heaven...Each of us was in your life for a reason. You may not have known the reason at the time, and that is what heaven is for. For understanding your life on earth...Some[people] you knew, maybe some you didn't. But they all crossed your path before they died. And they altered it forever." p. 35 Micky learns that he inadvertently killed the Blue Man. He goes to Blue Man's funeral and wonders why people gather when others die. Blue Man replies, "'It is because the human spirit knows, deep down, that all lives intersect. That death doesn't just take someone, it misses someone else, and in the small distance between being taken and being missed, lives are changed... Strangers...are just the family you have yet to come to know.'" p. 48-49. This is Eddie's first lesson.

Eddie's former Captain is the second person he meets. In his company, Eddie returns to the Philippines and relives his capture, captivity, and escape. He discovers that it was his Captain who was responsible for the bullet that caused him a lifetime of pain. He also learns that the Captain was killed while they were rushing to get him medical aid. The lesson from the Captain is "'Sacrifice is a part of life. It's supposed to be. It's not something to regret. It's something to aspire to.'" p.93 "Eddie thought for a moment. He thought about the bitterness after his wounding, his anger at all he had given up. Then he thought of what the Captain had given up and he felt ashamed. He offered his hand." p.94

Ruby, the inspiration for the construction of the Amusement Park meets Eddie next. In this section we meet Eddie's abusive father and walk through significant childhood moments. "All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped." p. 104 The reader learns about the impact Eddie's father has had on his son's life. Ruby tells Eddie, "Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves." p. 141

The first three lessons, in my opinion, although hardly original, have merit. Nonetheless, the love story of Eddie and Marguerite (his fourth heavenly encounter) has to be the most sickly saccharine sweet part of this book and the most revelatory of the Albom's woeful writing -- especially of similes. "Love, like rain, can nourish from above, drenching couples with a soaking joy. But sometimes, under the angry heat of life, love dries on the surface and must nourish from below, tending to its roots, keeping itself alive." p. 164 and "The waters of their love fell again from above and soaked them as surely as the sea that gathered at their feet." p. 166 Gag! Gag!! Gag!!!!! AHHHHH! Marguerite dies at 47 of cancer and an angry Eddie is left to carry on. He feels that life has stolen love from him. She replies, "Lost love is still love, Eddie. It takes a different form, that's all. You can't see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those senses weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it." p.173. What a load of crap! Having lost a close friend to cancer, and having lost a mother to Alzheimer's, (neither way could ever be construed to be a romantic way to leave this earth. Dance? Did he really say that?) I have not found that my memory has heightened...nor would I wish to dance with it! What bullfeathers.

But finish the book, I must.....
The fifth and thankfully short section concerns a final encounter, this one with a little Asian girl. Turns out that he killed her. She was in a barn that he burned down on the night of his escape. From her, he learns that his work at the amusement park was a form of atonement for her death. "I was sad because I didn't do anything with my life. I was nothing. I accomplished nothing. I was lost. I felt like I wasn't supposed to be there." She replies, "You keep them safe. You make good for me...Is where you were supposed to be...Eddie Main-ten-ance." p. 191 "There was a pier filled with thousands of people...they wre there, or would be there, because of the simple, mundane things Eddie had done in his life, the accidents he had prevented, the rides he had kept safe, the unnoticed turns he had affected every day...and a peace came upon him that he had never known before." p. 193.

While I do agree with Albom's final words, "that each [person] affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one." p. 196, I will not be rushing to the store to purchase another of his novels.

Critical Monkey Rating? Half a monkey.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


6 Reviews = Depression - Stephen King - Lisey's Story
I have never been a fan of horror nor of fantasy -- No, not even the Harry Potter series...likely because I am too old and instead grew up on The Bobbsey Twins, The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Silver Wings for Vicky...but I digress.

Stephen King, although loved by many, was an author I had not read -- although in my youth, I did read a lot of Robert Ludlum, Ken Follet, and even, I must confess, Danielle Steel. Stephen King simply did not write the kind of novel I was interested in -- although I did enjoy a few of the movies based on his books such as The Shining and Misery. Despite being cajoled by many of King's fans, I had successfully avoided his novels until the Critical Monkey Challenge made me face my fears.
Lisey's Story was on sale and without researching it, I bought it. It is not horror, much to my relief (although at times it is, in its own way, quite terrifying). It is instead, I guess, what some would call Fantasy. Quite frankly, I think it is very odd.

In terms of plot, I will borrow from the front jacket flap as it is much more eloquent and succinct than I could ever hope to be. "Lisey Debusher Landon lost her husband, Scott, two years ago, after a twenty-five-year marriage of the most profound and sometimes frightening intimacy. Scott was an award-winning, bestselling novelist and a very complicated man. Early in their relationship, before they married, Lisey had to learn from him about books and blood and bools. Later, she understood that there was a place Scott went -- a place that both terrified and healed him, that could eat him alive or give him the ideas he needed in order to live. Now it's Lisey's turn to face Scott's demons, Lisey's turn to go to Boo'ya Moon. What begins as a widow's effort to sort through the papers of her celebrated husband becomes a nearly fatal journey into the darkness he inhabited. Perhaps King's most personal and powerful novel, Lisey's Story is about the wellsprings of creativity, the temptation of madness and the secret language of love."

I found this book difficult to read (and not only because I read part of it while walking on a treadmill). In terms of narrative order, it jumps around a lot which sometimes became confusing. I think King does this because as readers we spend a lot of time in Lisey's mind which tends to flit around like a sparrow (and to my mind a sparrow who got into some seriously weird weeds) rather than a cautiously moving swan. Further, quite often, in Lisey's very bizarre inner world, she uses an unfamiliar lexicon consisting of a shorthand used by the couple during their marriage. "Woodbody could never grasp the inside meaning of everything the same. Lisey could explain it all day and he still wouldn't get it. Why? Because he was an Incunk, and when it came to Scott Landon only one thing interested the Incunks." p. 7 I am guessing that "Incunk" means someone who lacks the imagination and or intellect necessary to fully comprehend Scott Landon's writing. (I am also guessing that Stephen King might find me to be an "Incunk" where his writing is concerned...Oh well.) Nonetheless, the novel was full of these private words which, while creating a realistic image of an intense and intimate marriage, also often left me confused and impatient.
On a more positive note, I was moved by King's perceptive and realistic portrayal of their emotional relationship. This is best illustrated through Scott's words when he tells Lisey that he would never want to have children. "'Lisey, if we get married, we can't have kids. That's flat. I don't know how badly you want them right now, but you come from a big family and I guess it'd be natural for you to want to fill up a big house with a big family of your own someday. You need to know that if you're with me, that can't happen. And I don't want you to be facing me across a room somewhere five or ten years down the line and screaming 'You never told me this was part of the deal.'...His face is very pale, his eyes enormous. Like jewels, she thinks, fascinated. For the first and only time she sees him not as handsome (which he is not, although in the right light he can be striking) but as beautiful, the way some women are beautiful. This fascinates her, and for some reason horrifies her. 'I love you too much to lie to you, Lisey. I love you with all that passes for my heart. I suspect that kind of all-out love becomes a burden to the woman in time, but it's the only kind I have to give. I think we're going to be quite a wealthy couple in terms of money, but I'll almost certainly be an emotional pauper all my life. I've got money coming, but for the rest I've got just enough for you, and I won't ever dirty it or dilute it with lies. Not with the words I say, not with the ones I hold back." p. 221
There were passages which were also bone-chilling concerning both Lisey's and Scott's families. Both Lisey's sister and Scott's father suffer from mental illness. This continues to have a significant impact on their lives as adults. Further, mental illness is explored in two other characters, one who attacks Scott and another who attacks Lisey.
I think that Stephen King is a very insightful and skillful writer. His depiction of families, relationships, and our interior lives are all frightfully accurate and fascinating. Unfortunately, this is simply not my kind of story although, if I had unlimited time, I probably would reread it in order to fully savour all its interwoven symbols and nuances.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


5 Reviews=Anger - Christopher Moore - Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

At Christmas, I was given this book to read and decided to include it as one of my novels for the Critical Monkey Challenge as this is not my usual "cup of tea".
Nonetheless, having been kicked out of a church and as a lover of Monty Python's "Life of Brian", I had high hopes that this might just tickle my funny bone and compensate for all those hours spent sitting on hard pews during my childhood.

I know, there are people out there who think that this novel is absolutely hysterical...and while parts of it were pretty funny, I really don't think that it qualifies as "hysterical". Quite frankly, I much preferred, Corey Redekop's "Shelf Monkey" (which uses a much more original premise -- no, he is not paying me to say that, nor am I finagling to get another free book) and Jessica Grant's "Come, Thou Tortoise" (which contains some genuinely funny Newfie humour).

Here is one of the passages from "Lamb" that appealed to my cynical nature. Joshua asks about being a stone cutter.
"'Alphaeus,' Joshua called, 'does the work get easier once you know what you are doing?'
'Your lungs grow thick with stone dust and your eyes bleary from the sun and fragments thrown up by the chisel. You pour your lifeblood out into works of stone for Romans who will take your money in taxes to feed soldiers who will nail your people to crosses for wanting to be free. Your back breaks, your bones creak, your wife screeches at you, and your children torment you with open, begging mouths, like greedy baby birds in the nest. You go to bed every night so tired and beaten that you pray to the Lord to send the angel of death to take you in your sleep so you don't have to face another morning. It also has its downside.'
'Thanks,' Joshua said. He looked at me, one eyebrow raised.
'I for one, am excited,' I said. 'I am ready to cut some stone. Stand back, Josh, my chisel is on fire. Life is stretched out before us like a great bazaar, and I can't wait to taste the sweets to be found there.' ...
'Biff, are you sure you weren't sent here by the Devil to vex me?'" p. 50-51

Moore also knows how to take our shared experiences and put them into another context. On p. 185, a monster who is chasing Biff remarks, "'It's been a long time since I've eaten a Jew. A good Jew sticks to your ribs. That's the problem with Chinese, you eat six or seven of them and in a half hour you're hungry again. No offense, miss.'"

Another aspect of Moore's writing that I enjoyed was the seamless inclusion of his research. For example, he refers to "'The three jewels of Tao: compassion, moderation, and humility. Balthasar said compassion leads to courage, moderation leads to generosity, and humility leads to leadership.'" p. 195 Also funny was a comment concerning reincarnation from a Buddhist monk to Biff: "'You'll be working off your karma for a thousand years as a dung beetle just to evolve to the point of being dense." p. 244

Further, Moore really seems to know his Scripture and creates a fictional childhood and youth for the Messiah during which he develops skills (such as raising creatures from the dead and the multiplication of limited food) which later become useful in the performance of miracles; and during which he learns Truths (such as the need to 'Turn the other cheek.') which later appear in a modified form in his messages to the masses.

I found that Biff's (and other's) unending sexual experiences (some of which were quite unsavoury) and the foul language used by many of the characters interfered with the illusion of being in the first century. Perhaps that was deliberate but I personally found it detracted from the "fun". "'You owe me, you ungrateful fucks!'" p. 272

I also didn't like the sojourn into India. Don't get me wrong, I love the ridiculous and I adore serious silly but I found that the description of the sacrifices made to Kali were simply not funny but gratuitously shocking. "It was still hours from the height of the ceremony at midnight, when the children would be hacked to death, but we wanted to be there in time to stop the revelers from cutting off the children's fingers if we could. Now, the wooden elephants were empty on their turntables, but the altar of Kali was already filling with gruesome tribute. The heads of a thousand goats had been laid on the altar before the goddess, and the blood ran slick over the stones and in the grooves that channeled it into large brass pots at the corner of the altar...worshippers danced in the sticky shower as the blood flowed down upon them...'They're not the heads of the children?' 'No, I think those are the heads of strangers who happened down the road we were on before Rumi came along to pull us into the grass'...After the severed heads were dispersed across the altar, the female acolytes came out of the crowd dragging the headless corpse of a man which they laid on the steps leading to the altar. Each one mimed having intercourse with the corpse, then rubbed their genitalia against the bloody stump of its neck before dancing away, blood and ochre dripping down the insides of their thighs." p. 275, 276. Pretty disgusting....

Finally, I found that the retelling of the story of the life of the Messiah (contained in the Bible's gospels) was neither necessary, nor innovative but actually pretty boring. Maybe there is such a thing as "too much of a good thing".

OK the Day of Judgement dawns -- How many Critical Monkeys does Scrat allocate to Christopher Moore's "Lamb"?

I was going to say FOUR but given his descriptions of the Kali rituals in India, I think THREE CRITICAL MONKEYS as well as a GRUESOME, BLOODY, DRIPPING BODY PART or TWO placed on some altar somewhere might be more appropriate.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


4 Reviews=Guilt -- J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts) - Strangers in Death

??? Here is a question for my fellow Critical Monkeys: As a girl, many years ago, (and here comes the embarrassing part), I read Harlequin Romances. I think Nora Roberts wrote for Harlequin but I am not sure if I have ever actually read her work. I leave it to my fellow monkeys and the big alpha Critical Monkey (Corey Redecop) to decide whether or not this should be disqualified???

Here is my review.

Strangers in Death is one of a series of novels by Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb. The protagonist is Lieutenant Eve Dallas, her partner, Detective Delia Peabody. The story opens with a graphic description of a horrible homicide scene involving a very rich philanthropist, Thomas Aurelius Anders. The crime occurred in his bedroom and the victim has been discovered trussed with black velvet cords to the four corners of his bed, naked but covered with blanket, penis in a drug-induced permanent erection and surrounded by sex toys. So begins what I am thinking will be a very disgusting not my kind of novel!! What was I thinking? What WAS I thinking????

Actually, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Definitely better than the Jameses (Patterson and Frey).

What I liked about this novel is that there was a significant amount of it dedicated to the protagonist and her life with her husband, Roarke. The character is introspective and critical of herself. She questions her decisions and her tactics. She bends the rules occasionally in her pursuit of justice. I also liked the fact that the protagonist was a female detective who was successful and independent. Unfortunately, I found that the other characters were not as well developed, although Roarke was somewhat more realistic than the others.

(Spoiler Warning: Not that I really expect any of you to want to read this book.)
In terms of the plot, it borrows the idea of strangers killing the other's unwanted spouse and is somewhat stereotypical in that the wife is a money-hungry dilettante with nothing better to do than spend her self-made rich husband's hard-earned money. Nonetheless, the plot was intricately woven and Lieutenant Dallas' dogged determination and belief in her investigative skills were entertaining as the mystery was solved and the wicked carried off to jail.

Although it is set in 2060, very little has changed in society -- people are still killing one another. Unfortunately, Roberts fails to take advantage of this futuristic setting by inventing new technology which would help her protagonist solve her problem more quickly and perhaps intrigue the reader. The realism wanes in this regard.

In terms of Robert's writing, it is very vocabulary, banal sentence structure, no memorable metaphors, similes or any other literary device. In fact, the only memorable part of the writing involves the sex scenes which I found detracted from the novel and made me feel voyeuristic -- I guess I am a prude!

Critical Monkeys for this book: Two and a half out of Five. Will I read another? Very unlikely!!

Monday, February 1, 2010


3 Reviews=Bargaining -- Bright Shiny Morning - James Frey

I know, I know -- this is the author who pulled a scam on Oprah! Oh well, people blunder sometimes -- I thought I would give him a chance. (Frey, I figured, must be capable of writing if he caught Oprah's attention -- after all she did like Anne Marie MacDonald.)

In this novel -- and he does call it a novel and not an autobiography, he writes about Los Angeles and a few recurring characters.

I say that he writes about Los Angeles because I get the feeling that he did considerable research and felt the need to include ALL that information in this so-called novel. It begins innocuously enough. Between chapters, he has a brief non-fiction paragraphs set apart on an individual page. At first, I thought these paragraphs were relevant and read them attentively. Then, I realized that although they were semi-interesting, they were ultimately unimportant as far as the story was concerned.

Unfortunately, Frey did not confine his need to incorporate his research into his novel with these "between chapter factoid pages" and instead began incorporating longer interruptions into the narrative. One of first significant interruptions occurs during the story of Larry and his love of guns. This interruption is a list (in this case, a fictitious list): "A sampling of customers at Larry's firearms on an average day", which while I was reading I did not find too intrusive.

Nonetheless, Frey really started to tick me off when on p. 135 he began rambling on and on and on about "Freeways! Highways! EXPRESSWAYS!! AN EIGHTEEN-RAMP INTERSTATE EXCHANGE!!!" This "interruption" as I like to call them lasted for -- wait for it -- ELEVEN pages!! Unbelieveable, but true. Relevance to the story -- NONE!

Another "interruption" which drew my attention -- if not my frustration -- occurred when he starts going on about gangs -- for a total of TWELVE pages! Immediately followed by another TWELVE pages about people who went to Los Angeles to make it big -- and who were totally, once again, irrelevant to the plot. A few pages later, he turns his research into "Fun Facts Los Angeles, Volume 1" which lasts THREE pages, followed a bit later by Volumes 2 which lasts TWO pages. Then, back to people arriving in LA, this time immigrants from all over the world, and others who arrive to live and study, lasting for THIRTEEN pages. Further on, there are SIX pages listing the natural disasters which have pounded LA and incurred considerable cost as a consequence. Stories of artists -- another TWELVE page "interruption" followed by SEVEN pages about War Vets who have been involved in the 20th and 21st century wars, and then FIFTEEN pages about another couple of kids who went to LA to make their dreams come true. As I said, PAGE AFTER PAGE of irrelevant information repeatedly INTERRUPTING the story. I guess, some people might like this kind of thing, but I found it pretty disjointed and just plain irritating.

The novel's "plot" is actually made up of several individual stories which again, are not related to each other except by their common setting. The plots could have been interesting but I found them hard to follow because they were interwoven and also there were so many "interruptions" that I would forget what had happened in the previous section. I think that these should have been written as short stories and compiled in an anthology rather than trying to make a book. Of course, I suspect that it would not have sold as well, as short story anthologies are purchased less often than novels.

So what do I think about this book. Well, it will be the last James Frey I read -- unless, for some reason, I join a reading challenge specifically targeting bad writing and self-inflicted pain and suffering.

Like James Patterson's Double Cross -- this gets a ZERO CRITICAL MONKEY RATING!

Monday, January 25, 2010



I would not describe myself as a great fan of NEW YORK BESTSELLERS -- so for this challenge, I thought I should try a few.

I had vaguely heard of Harlan Coben and so, after wikiing him, I have since learned that he has written many many mystery novels and thrillers. Contrary to my agonizing experience with James Patterson, I actually found this novel to be interesting. I must also confess, I feel somewhat guilty being entertained by the worst imaginable, horrible rapes and murders.

The opening chapter, which you can read online at the Official Harlan Coben website, begins on a bar stool with a discussion concerning the Bible and Darwinism. So begins the hunt, the drugging, the kidnapping and the systematic torture of Marianne. "The man peeled off his mustache and smiled at her...She couldn't move, couldn't breathe. He sat next to her, pulled his fist back, and punched her hard in the stomach. If the pain had been bad before, it went to another dimension now...And then he began to hurt her for real." (p. 9)

The second chapter jumps to a discussion between a couple of parents who are preparing to spy on their eldest child, who since the suicide of his friend, has become withdrawn and depressed.

The subsequent chapters introduce a group of seemingly unconnected characters carrying on with the often tragic events of their daily lives. Intertwined with these chapters is another capture and torture of a second victim. The discovery of this body leads to a determined investigation and eventual discovery of the mustached man and his connection to all the other characters in the novel.

Here is a plot teaser from the cover of the novel (from the Official Harlan Coben website):

Tia and Mike Baye never imagined they’d spy on their kids. But their sixteen-year-old son Adam has been unusually distant lately, and after the suicide of his best friend Spencer Hill, they can’t help but worry. Within days of installing a sophisticated spy program on Adam’s computer they are jolted by a cryptic message from an unknown correspondent that shakes them to their core: “Just stay quiet and all safe.”
As if Mike Baye isn’t dealing with enough, he also learns that Lucas Loriman, the sweet kid who grew up next door, is in urgent need of a kidney transplant. As the boy’s doctor, Mike suddenly finds himself in possession of an explosive secret that threatens to rip the Loriman family apart at the seams.
Nearby, while browsing through an online memorial for Spencer, Betsy Hill discovers a surprising detail about the night of her son’s death. Before she can find out more, Adam disappears, taking the truth with him and sending shockwaves through the neighborhood.
As the lives of these families collide in tragic, unexpected, and violent ways, long-hidden connections in their small suburb begin to work their way to the surface. And when an unidentified Jane Doe is beaten to death not far away, those connections threaten to turn this quiet community upside down—and force these desperate parents to decide whether there is any line they won’t cross to protect those they love most in the world.

In literary terms, the characters were well-rounded, realistic and sympathetic. The settings very realistic. The multiple plots of the murders and the parents and the other families, sufficiently detailed and intriguing. As the parent of a teenager who often accuses me of being overprotective, I found the dilemma of the parents thought provoking and relevant.

As a result, I will give this a rating of THREE Critical Monkeys out of FIVE.


Sometimes I do stupid things -- really stupid things.

One of those stupid things involves joining Corey Redecop's CRITICAL MONKEY challenge. Don't get me wrong -- the challenge itself is great. It involves reading books that I wouldn't normally read -- sounds like a way to expand one's horizons and grow as a person. Mr. Redecop even states, "By the end, those who have finished this grueling course will find themselves spiritually cleaner, and emotionally more well-rounded. And you'll be able to proudly hold your head up and say, "Yes, I have read Dan Brown, thank you, and this is why he sucks!"

That is what I thought. That is why I joined.

I should have paid more attention to his descriptor, "grueling".

I should have wondered more about his decision to use the stages of grief to enumerate the number of reviews submitted.

Shoulda -- Coulda -- Woulda -- Didn't.

Unfortunately, I am not a quitter and plan to see this thing through to its painful end. And I do mean painful!!!


Having visited many Chapter's stores and been visually assaulted by innumerable James Patterson novels, I figured it was about time that I actually read one -- how painful could it be? "Millions of copies sold" must mean that a least a million people have read Mr. Patterson's words.

A million people must have found something of value -- and perhaps they did.

Here is the plot outline from the Fantastic Fiction site:
"Just when Alex thought his life was calming down into a routine of patients and therapy sessions, he finds himself back in the game--this time to catch a criminal mastermind like no other. A spate of elaborate murders in Washington D.C. have the whole East Coast on edge. They are like nothing Alex Cross and his new girlfriend, Detective Brianna Stone, have ever seen. With each murder, the case becomes increasingly complex. There's only one thing Alex knows: the killer adores an audience. As victims are made into gruesome spectacles citywide, inducing a media hysteria, it becomes clear to Alex that the man he's after is a genius of terror--and he's after fame. The killer has the whole city by its strings--and he'll stop at nothing to become the most terrifying star that Washington D.C. has ever seen."

Sounds like it has potential to be suspenseful.

To say that I hated this book does not even begin to describe the agony inflicted by each and every syllable.

To say that I resented every microsecond invested in reading to its end is an understatement.

I don't even want to write this it will be very short! (Sorry, Mr. Redecop.)

Why do I feel this revulsion?

Evidently, DOUBLE CROSS is one book in a long series of Alex Cross novels. Although any novel should be able to stand on its own, I found that this was not the case here. While reading, I couldn't help but wonder why I felt very little sympathy for the protagonist, Cross and actually, truth be told, all of the characters. I found them to be unrealistic and flat; their relationships predictable and boring. The plot was gratuitously violent, contrived and failed to capture enough of my interest for me to want to try to solve the case along with Cross. Further, descriptions of settings were nonexistent.

While bemoaning the colossal waste of time that this novel sucked from my existence, I have since learned from one of those millions of readers of this series that the murderer always targets Cross, his family and/or his loved ones.

This is one novel that will not be remembered for anything other than the literary violence inflicted on its audience.

RATING: This novel is getting absolutely NO CRITICAL MONKEYS out of FIVE