James Patterson,
Violets Are Blue
(Time Warner, 2001)

What a guilty pleasure! OK, so there's not a lot of heavy, intellectual philosophical content in the audiobook version of James Patterson's Violets Are Blue, but it's really fun.

From the seriously overacted "mastermind" to the slightly too laidback Alex Cross, the characters are, well, if not exacly compelling, at least well explored. Remember, this is an audiobook, so the two actors who read the parts, Ruben Santiago (Shaft, Devil's Advocate) and Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under) are influencing the story as much as the plot.

Santiago reads as Alex Cross, our undercover hero. After being informed of the suspicious death of two joggers (the method of murder was particularly grisly and I won't repeat it here, but, hint, pay attention to other characters killed in the same way!) and then the murder of a co-worker, Cross knows he must join the search for the killer. For both personal and professional reasons, Cross knows this is his most important case ever. (Apparently, it's a series, so there have been other, less important cases.)

But! Enter "The Mastermind"! (OK -- note to Michael C. Hall, while I worship you on Six Feet Under, I think maybe you threw yourself a little too into this role). This bad guy's been following Cross for way too long now, occasionally throwing plot twists and dead bodies in his path, and both characters are nearing the end of their patience with the game. The Mastermind has decided the time has come to take Cross out of the picture.

While trying to avoid death by Mastermind, Cross is jetting across the country, following up leads on his murder suspects. During one of these investigative jaunts, he meets the woman who is so fabulous she puts inflection in his voice: the great detective, Jamilla Hughes. She's a cool, tough chick, and too devoted to her job for her own good. (No, no, I'm not giving it away, you go read the book!)

All right, I've left out two of the most important characters, whom you'll meet very early in the story. Undoubtedly, they are essential to the plot, I just didn't like them very much. Adding a vampire element to the story, they are the magician brothers, Michael and Charles, also read by Hall.

Personally, I'm not much of a mystery buff, but Patterson's story made me glad I picked this one up. Although this isn't the sort of book I tend to read, this tape went on every chance I had. Driving in the car, doing dishes, whenever the kids weren't around, I indulged.

[ by Katie Knapp ]
Rambles: 18 August 2002

Buy it from Amazon.com.