Alex Cross’s TRIAL by James Patterson
- historical fiction -
reviewed by Amanda
book borrowed from family member
Book Order (Alex Cross)
Author’s Website : http://www.jamespatterson.com
This book in 6 words:
Gripping story of 1906 Southern life.
Why did I read this? And am I glad I did?
I read this because I needed a book, and my mom lent me this one. I was at first reluctant to read this book because I didn’t really desire reading another mystery, so I was happily surprised to find that this wasn’t a typical Alex Cross/James Patterson book. In the end, I was very glad to have read this book. I found it to be well-worth the read.
Separated by time
From his grandmother, Alex Cross has heard the story of his great uncle Abraham and his struggles for survival in the era of the Ku Klux Klan. Now, Alex passes the family tale along to his own children in a novel he’s written–a novel called Trial.
Connected by blood
As a lawyer in turn-of-the-century Washington D.C., Ben Corbett represents the toughest cases. Fighting against oppression and racism, he risks his family and his life in the process. When President Roosevelt asks Ben to return to his home town to investigate rumors of the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan there, he cannot refuse.
United by bravery
When he arrives in Eudora, Mississippi, Ben meets the wise Abraham Cross and his beautiful granddaughter, Moody. Ben enlists their help, and the two Crosses introduce him to the hidden side of the idyllic Southern town. Lynchings have become commonplace and residents of the town’s black quarter live in constant fear. Ben aims to break the reign of terror–but the truth of who is really behind it could break his heart. Written in the fearless voice of Detective Alex Cross, Alex Cross’s Trial is a gripping story of murder, love, and, above all, bravery.
My only problem with the pacing/writing style is the ridiculously short chapters. This could serve to propel the book forward by offering a “mini-cliffhanger” every couple pages, but I felt it to be more distracting than anything. However, if I remember correctly, short chapters like this are typical of Patterson’s style of writing (and granted, it’s been years since I’ve read anything by Patterson, so I could be wrong). Despite this, I really loved the plot. The review from TheReviewBroads.com on the front cover says, “A little bit of Atticus from To Kill a Mockingbird…” Same general idea here with this book, but with perhaps more violence. Another thing that was interesting about this book was how it was told; technically this is Alex Cross (a fictional character himself) telling the story from Ben Corbett’s perspective.
Whenever I read historical fiction novels, I am often led to wonder where I would have fit in in that particular era. I found myself identifying with and admiring Ben Corbett, the main character in the book. Though I wonder what it was really like to be in the South in the early 1900s: how accurate is this book? Although this story is told from Ben Corbett’s perspective, I don’t know that we really get to know him or the other characters in the book; there is more emphasis placed on the events happening, and what kind of role these characters played in those events.
If you’re looking to read a typical Alex Cross book, this is not going to be the one to read. Except for a brief preface “written” by Alex Cross himself, he does not appear in the book; rather, it is about capturing a previously oral story passed down in his family. However, if you’re looking for a book with a message and a riveting story about racism in the South, this would be a good book.
I read some brief reviews and found that many people did not enjoy this book because it was, “not a book Alex Cross would write.” I haven’t read an Alex Cross book for about 10 years, so perhaps I come at this book from a different angle. I don’t care if this is or is not the type of book Alex Cross would write (or that the book was not actually about him) and I don’t care who Patterson’s co-author was, nor how much he actually wrote of it. What I did identify with was the story itself. It holds a message that is still relevant to today’s society. If you believe one of the messages of the book, which is that one reason why white man (people, rather) were so afraid of the black man (people) was that the blacks were taking away their jobs. I think Arizona is a good example that this fear is still in many people, though in another context and different era. As a teacher of English to non-native speakers, I am [perhaps overly] sensitive to the racism and hatred of those who are “different” from us. This book is a riveting example of both how much and how little we have progressed.