Kiss the Girls (Alex Cross #2) – James Patterson

Kiss the Girls by James Patterson
Also by this author: 1st to Die, 2nd Chance, 3rd Degree, The Horsewoman, 4th of July, The 5th Horseman, The 6th Target, 7th Heaven, The 8th Confession, The 9th Judgment
Series: Alex Cross #2
on January 11, 1995
Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
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In Los Angeles, a reporter investigating a series of murders is killed. In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a beautiful medical intern suddenly disappears. In Washington D.C. Alex Cross is back to solve the most baffling and terrifying murder case ever. Two clever pattern killers are collaborating, cooperating, competing - and they are working coast to coast.

Two years after Along Came a Spider put James Patterson on the map, he returned to the world of Alex Cross for a thriller featuring double the killers—Casanova and The Gentleman Caller. Killings are happening from coast to coast, intensely brutal and sexual in nature. Alex Cross gets caught up in it all when investigating the disappearance of his niece, believed to be a victim of Casanova. Kiss the Girls ratchets up the intensity, gives readers more pages in the heads of the villains, and introduces another short-term love interest for Alex.

As far as sequels go, Kiss the Girls is quite different than its predecessor and way more violent. Along Came a Spider focused on the kidnapping of a child and the murder of another. Kiss the Girls involves two competing/collaborating serial killers each intent on violating their female victims. While other Alex Cross novels get pretty dark, this one may be the most violent and disturbing in the thirty-book series.

My biggest criticism with the book is how easily Cross jumps into a working relationship (and an after-work relationship) with Dr. Kate McTiernan. Kate is literally abducted, tortured, and raped by a serial killer and only barely manages to escape. Yet, immediately upon escape, she seems nonplussed by her trauma and is ready to work with the police and start up a romance with Alex Cross. It’s as if Patterson thought that every novel had to have a romantic plot thread somewhere and chose a random person from the novel for it. Not necessarily a bad idea, but not even having a conversation about the trauma of being kidnapped and raped really cheapens her experience and makes Patterson’s scenes with the villains gratuitous and exploitative.

By this point, James Patterson seems to be getting into a rhythm with his writing style. Short, punchy chapters. Good pacing. Still a bit stilted with the dialogue and the man cannot write a romantic conversation worth anything. But it’s a movement into actually getting settled into the Alex Cross universe with the beginning threads of some overarching storylines beginning to develop.