Violets Are Blue

Violets Are Blue, the seventh book featuring psychologist/police detective Alex Cross, details vampire-like serial killings marked by bite-riddled corpses hanging upside down, drained of blood. First, however, Cross encounters the murder scene of his close friend, FBI agent Betsey Cavalierre. This is the second time in two years that one of his partners is brutally killed--and the Mastermind claims responsibility.

The scene switches from Woodbridge, Virginia, to San Francisco. Joggers are attacked in a San Francisco park and vicious bite marks on their corpses replicate what a tiger would inflict. Cross recognizes the possibility that these are "vampire" murders; but rather than believing in vampires, he explores underground vampire cults. The investigations take him from the West Coast to the East, with murders in Savannah, Charleston, and New Orleans.

The parallel plot revolves around the mysterious Mastermind, who watches and waits for the opportunity to kill Cross and those nearest to him. Fans who have forgotten the Mastermind's identity, revealed at the end of Roses Are Red (2000), will probably enjoy this book more for the suspense involving the Mastermind than for the vampire killings, which become slightly boring.

James Patterson's propensity for formula suspense brings elements that have appeared in his other books: a psychopathic serial killer, a strong woman who helps investigate the murders, a professional cohort murdered, the romantic attachments that put the hero in danger, and the conflict between the detective's personal and professional lives.