Alex Cross is tiring of the emotional and physical stress associated with being a rather celebrated detective for the Washington D.C. Police Department. Retirement seems to be the only way to keep what is important to him -- his children, Damon and Jannie, and his aging and ill grandmother. He has made up his mind to retire, and perhaps just have a private practice as a psychologist. His soon-to-be ex-partner, Sampson, cajoles him into one last case. A Vietnam War buddy of Sampson has been framed for hideous murders that he couldn't possibly have committed and yet, he has been sentenced to death. As Alex struggles to right the egregious wrong that is being committed, he finds that this case isn't unique. There are others who have been wrongly executed for murders they didn't commit. The evidence begins to point to a group of assassins that are committing the murders and framing the accused murderers as well. Alex is determined to find out who is hiring the killers and what happened years earlier in Vietnam to cause this.
This novel is Patterson's eighth featuring Alex Cross. Besides creating a story that has many interwoven and unanticipated events, James Patterson also revisits some of the less popular aspects of fighting the war in Vietnam. He explores the conflicts that soldiers faced when every native civilian could be an enemy combatant, and what steps had to be taken to protect soldiers at the expense of morality, decency, and justice. He also introduces a new romantic interest for Alex, which is sure to be explored further in future novels about Alex Cross.
Reviewed by ks, 12/02. Other reviews by ks.