Venue: Crowd of Favours
ALONG CAME A SPIDER
He had always wanted to be famous. When he kidnapped two well-known rich kids, it was headline news. Then one of them was found – dead – and the whole nation was in uproar. For such a high-profile case, they needed the top people – Alex Cross, a black detective with a PhD in psychology, and Jezzie Flanagan, an ambitious young Secret Service agent – yet even they were no match for the killer. He had the unnerving ability to switch from blood-crazed madness to clear-eyed sanity in an instant. But was he the helpless victim of a multiple-personality disorder – or a brilliant, cold-blooded manipulator?
The first thing we discovered was general group confusion as to who the detective was. One of us had him confused with the psychologist in the Jonathan Kellermans books, while another thought he was Lincoln Rhyme from the Jeffery Deaver series! This was nicely summed up nicely that there is now just one big American cop and we all agreed that they are all starting to blend into one. There seems to have been a collective decision for everyone who originally owned the book to have got rid of it which didn’t bode well for the rest of the discussion!
This book was the first in the Alex Cross series and was published in 1993. Straight away the book got a fair bit of stick. We found it to be formulaic and Cross was a difficult character to work out although the police procedural timescale was more realistic than in a lot of other books. None of us could decide if we found the idea of the villain with a split personality a good thing or not.
It was interesting to see that there was no point of view from Gary Murphy/Soneji even though quite a few other characters had their own personal chapters. One member called him a photo fit sociopath, which made it hard to believe in him. We compared him to ‘the joker in Batman’.
Another member meanwhile made us laugh wondering how Cross never gets tired – he is quite the super man: playing piano, work, parenting and everything else.
Was the book dated? No one could really remember the racism but don’t think much has changed in regards to that. Some things we did decide were dated included the annoying habit of constantly wearing sunglasses. Since the books release we now have mobile phones, social media, selfies, internet stalking and creating fake profiles all of which would be done probably by Murphy/Soneji in these days.
Jezzie Flanagan: We had a good chat about the femme fatale. For some reason I have written down ‘Forgot to press the space bar’! I think that is in reference to the silly spelling of her name. The general agreement was that despite being the only female character of note she didn’t quite ring true and were disappointed that she had to use sex to move forward and blowing her high flying career for money.
This sent the group off into what makes a good female character which was a fantastic conversation that I didn’t write down so you will have to use your imagination. 😉
We also wondered what would happen if one of the characters was gay. Getting confused again with the Kellerman books again there!
So one of us found it boring, another over the top and a different member thought some of the characters were cartoony. We agreed that we didn’t want to be a member of Cross family seeing as so many of them get injured or killed, leading to comparisons with Kate Adie!!
We then wondered if Helen had been reading a different book to everyone else again as she kept wondering where Angeline Jolie was.
Cross’ relationship with his boss came under criticism as there was no explanations for the political battles they had and made us wonder what the point of those were.
Switching to the film version we discussed the shortened time frame and how films must have happy endings.
Some quick notes: the plot was too complex but the book was easy to read with short chapters being a positive. However many quickly lost interest. The characters were strong and defined even if not always believable. We liked Cross and Sampsons relationship.
Would we read more? Most said probably not however if it was on a shelf in a holiday cottage or hotel then maybe.SCORE