James Patterson,
The Big Bad Wolf
(Time Warner, 2003)

You are probably familiar with the character of Alex Cross if you've seen the movies Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider starring Morgan Freeman. The author of the original novels that inspired this franchise, James Patterson, has released another book in the series. The audiobook of this thriller, The Big Bad Wolf, runs about eight hours in its unabridged version.

Alex has left the police to join the FBI. He was recruited for his talent in solving heinous sex crimes and serial murder cases, and it seems he was not brought on board too soon. His first case involves an apparent kidnapping ring. As Alex digs in deeper, the bureau discovers that men and women are being sold into "white slavery." The mastermind behind this venture is known as "The Wolf." With his real identity unknown and this sex-slave ring being but one of many business dealings, this Russian Mafia don is more of a terrorist threat to the U.S. than those from the Middle East.

While Alex is busy pursuing his quarry and inadvertently making enemies within the bureau, his home life is on its own downward spiral. His ex-fiancee, Christine Johnson, has come back in to the picture. If she has her way, she will take custody of their child, little Alex, even though she abandoned him previously.

The part of Alex is read by Peter Jay Fernandez. He has spent time on and off Broadway as well as on various television shows including Law & Order and Cosby. His approach towards Alex is consistent with Freeman's. The character comes across as very controlled and cool in a crisis.

Alex's nemesis, The Wolf, is played by Denis O'Hare, who has also been seen on Broadway. His film credits include Hamlet and Sweet & Lowdown. Denis has a very convincing Russian accent. The Wolf comes across as an individual who feels nothing but contempt for the rest of humanity. This individual has no fear. I found myself waiting impatiently to hear what The Wolf would do next.

Patterson has created a somewhat predictable storyline for Alex. As in the past, he uses misdirection to throw the audience off the true trail. If you have enjoyed this technique with the previous thrillers, then there is no reason to think you won't enjoy it here. Personally, I find this series better than his genetically engineered bird-people books (When the Wind Blows and The Lake House). When the audiobook of The Big Bad Wolf comes to an end, you know that both Alex and The Wolf will be back in some future Patterson creation. As Alex, a trained psychologist, might put it, their relationship did not have any type of proper "closure."

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 7 February 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.