main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Literature: Alex Cross
Alex Cross is a fictional character and the protagonist of a series of books by James Patterson. He is a detective that lives in Washington, DC.

    The Books in the Series 
  • Along Came a Spider
  • Kiss the Girls
  • Jack & Jill
  • Cat and Mouse
  • Pop Goes the Weasel
  • Roses Are Red
  • Violets Are Blue
  • Four Blind Mice
  • The Big Bad Wolf
  • London Bridges
  • Mary, Mary
  • Cross
  • Double Cross
  • Cross Country
  • Alex Cross's Trial
  • I, Alex Cross
  • Cross Fire
  • Kill Alex Cross
  • Merry Christmas, Alex Cross
  • Alex Cross, Run
  • Cross My Heart

Three novels have been adapted for the big screen:

This series provides examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob:
    • Cross is just way too badass a last name.
    • Samson is also pretty badass a name.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: In Cat and Mouse Alex Cross gets knocked unconscious and taken to the hospital. The next chapter starts with, Thomas Pierce a brand new narrator, who was introduced earlier, while we're still reeling from the removal of Cross. He turns out to be, Mr. Smith, the second serial killer of the book, the same one he investigated.
  • Anonymous Killer Narrator: Almost every book contains this, except for the ones where the killer's identity is know from the beginning.
  • Artistic License - History: Alex Cross's Trial. This book, set when Teddy Roosevelt was president (i.e., between September 14, 1901 and March 4, 1909) and which claims to be historically accurate, makes the following mistakes:
    • The book focuses on lynchings taking place in the South, stressing that this is unusual and is not happening anywhere else, even though lynchings have taken place EVERYWHERE in America—the South, the Midwest, the West and yes, in the North.
    • Roosevelt sends the white hero, Ben Corbett to his hometown of Eudora, Mississippi and report on lynchings and Klan activities. The modern version of the Klan was not founded till 1915, in Georgia, and wasn't any kind of a really big deal until after World War I. The Reconstruction Klan was dissolved after ca. 1877. (Patterson admits that it had been disbanded officially, but maintains that it existed at the time of the story (possible) and that its impact was so great as to merit Presidential investigation (not supported by historical record)).
    • Three "White Raiders" (read: Klansmen) are arrested (by a sheriff who's a Klansman and who believes in what they're doing) and Roosevelt sends one Jonah Curtis to prosecute the case. Jonah is a black man. It's not that Jonah's black and practicing law; the first African-American to be admitted to a state bar was Macon Bolling Allen in July 1844. The problem is that Jonah is a black man who, between 1901 and 1909, apparently works for the federal government and is recognized by the state of Mississippi as an attorney. To find a situation that's more or less analogous, the first black man to serve as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Mississippi since Reconstruction was Tyree Irving. He was hired by the Northern District of Mississippi in 1978.
    • Roosevelt claims that the above lawsuit will ensure him the black vote for all time. I guess Patterson hasn't heard of common ways that white people of the period kept blacks and other minorities from voting. Like, oh, the poll tax and literacy tests.
    • At the end of the book, Ben takes Moody Cross (Alex's ancestor) into Eudora, walking hand in hand with her and walking into restaurants and stores demanding that they be served—and actually expecting the store owners to comply. Because it's not like segregation and Jim Crow laws existed, or that an attorney would know about either.
    • Special mention must be made of the treatment of black civil rights leaders in this book. Leaders of the time, like W.E.B. Du Bois and Ida Wells-Barnett, are mentioned, but the book doesn't say who they are or what they did. Consequently, all we have are names and no context. And in the end, they're reduced to leading a group of blacks through town, chanting. Although it's never stated, it's implied that they're doing this because that's what civil rights leaders do. It's not like they found things like the NAACP (which Du Bois did in 1909) or work as journalists for Chicago papers and write books and give lectures throughout Europe about lynching (which Wells-Barnett did starting in 1893).
  • Batter Up: The Sojourner Truth School killer used a cut off, tape reinforced bat to kill his victims.
  • Blood Lust: Soneji in Cat and Mouse incorporates blood as a trademark.
  • The Butcher: The hitman antagonist of Cross.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Kiss the Girls has a woman who takes self-defense classes, with the Groin Attack recommended. When Casanova abducts her, she kicks him in the nuts. Unfortunately, Casanova was wearing protection. Because he had been watching her go to her self-defense classes.
  • The Casanova: The villain of Kiss the Girls is actually named Casanova, a criminal who builds a modern day harem of kidnapped women.
  • Dan Browned: Cross's encounters with role-playing gamers and vampires/goths. Might be a case of Did Not Do the Research.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Geoffrey Shafer aka "The Weasel" is implied to be one.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: In Pop Goes the Weasel, Geoffrey Shafer is a British diplomat who (and ex-Special Forces assassin) abuses this to get away with murder. Although his government eventually waives the immunity and allows him to be put on trial, his assertion of the immunity during his arrest leads to the most damning evidence being suppressed, and he is acquitted.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • In Along Came A Spider Mike Devine and Charley Chakely, the Secret Service agents in charge of protecting Maggie Rose and Michael, and Jezzie Flannagan, the head of the children's Secret Service detail; actually arranged the kidnapping to take the ransom money for themselves.
    • In Kiss The Girls Alex suspects Detective Davey Sikes to be Casanova, but it turns out to be his partner Nick Ruskin.
    • Rose Are Red:
      • The third robbery crew the Mastermind hires are detectives.
      • The Mastermind himself turns out to be FBI Agent Kyle Craig.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Although the embarrassing part is debatable, Sampson calls Cross "sugar".
  • Facial Horror: The female victims from Mary, Mary had there faces skinned off.
  • Flayed Alive: In the end of Cat And Mouse Thomas Pierce aka Mr. Smith does this to himself.
  • Freudian Excuse: Some of his villains have very painful reasons for what they do. Examples include:
    • Gary Murphy/Soneji: he was abused by his father and stepmother when he was young.
    • The Butcher from Cross: his father molested him.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: It's not uncommon for a chapter to end vaguely hinting at what has taken place. A particularly disturbing example from I, Alex Cross when the Big Bad, Zeus, visits the sex club that he frequents and takes two girls to his private room. After binding and gagging the two girls, he pulls out a taser gun and a pair of pliers before the chapter ends.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Cross and Sampson
  • Hollywood History: Alex Cross's Trial. The book is about a white attorney, Ben Corbett, coming to his hometown of Eudora, Mississippi and investigating lynchings and the Klan at the command of President Teddy Roosevelt, putting the book's date range between September 14, 1901 and March 4, 1909. The book fairly drips with examples of this trope. Here are a few:
    • In a town dominated by the Klan (which had been officially disbanded since around 1877 and which didn't exist in its modern form until 1915, but that's another issue) and in which the sheriff is a sincere member of the Klan, two "White Raiders" who have come to lynch an old black man and his granddaughter die—one by falling off the roof and the other by being stabbed in the back by the granddaughter. The granddaughter is not only not convicted of murder or manslaughter—she never even gets ARRESTED. It seems that Patterson forgot that self-defense is a plea the defendant makes in court, not an excuse for the cops not to arrest someone, and racist, Klan member cops would be especially unlikely not to.
    • Ben Corbett's father is appointed judge in the trial of the three surviving Raiders (yes, they were arrested by the sheriff who's a Klansman and who believes in what they're doing). This makes no sense, as Judge Corbett seems pretty low on the judicial hierarchy. Corbett tries traffic cases. And small claims cases between neighbors. This is a case of attempted murder. Newsflash, Patterson: Corbett is a judge of a small-town CIVIL court, not the judge of a county or state CRIMINAL court. Corbett's court doesn't have jurisdiction.
    • The sheriff tells another cop to read the surviving Raiders their rights. The concept of the Miranda rights didn't come into existence until the Supreme Court decision in the case of Miranda v. Arizona (1966). It's somewhere between 1901 and 1909. Miranda rights don't EXIST yet; Ernesto Miranda himself wouldn't even be born until the '40s.
    • Ben, mid-trial, gets an idea: he and one of his friends will break into the photography offices of Scooter Williams, who takes pictures of every single lynching, and steal the photos and the negatives. Then he will bring the stolen pictures into court as evidence. This ignores several facts:
    • Stolen pictures may be inadmissible. This may or may not be a handicap: Most states didn't have a rule against this before Mapp v. Ohio, and even now it only applies to police or people acting as their agents. So they would be liable for burglary and theft, but the pictures could still be admitted.
    • Even if they weren't stolen, the grisly pictures are horrible, yes, and they are certainly proof that lynching exists, which is what Roosevelt wanted Ben to find...but they aren't evidence of anything in this case. They DO prove that the men who went to the Crosses' house had attended lynchings. But they don't prove that these men went to the Crosses' to commit a lynching OR that they attacked the Crosses with intent to commit murder, and any first-year law student would argue as much...
    • ...If the pictures weren't considered prejudicial to the jury and thrown out of the evidence list during preparations for the trial.
    • And since the evidence lists are prepared before trial and are seen by attorneys for both sides, it's unlikely that the judge would accept new evidence mid-trial that the other side hadn't seen—even if the evidence was obtained legally AND proved that the defendants were guilty.note 
    • Moody Cross (the aforementioned granddaughter and Alex Cross's ancestor) is called to the stand and perjures herself by saying that yes, the Raiders had a search warrant and she agreed to let them in, and my goodness, she doesn't know WHY they attacked after that. Ben thinks that this changes everything because now the official story isn't that the Crosses fought men who were performing their legal duty, but that the Crosses acted like good citizens and admitted the representatives of the law, who then attacked them. He seems unaware that:
    • a) the stories the Crosses told and that the Raiders told would have been recorded in the briefs both sides filed with the court, so changing the story now would raise all kinds of questions about "Why are you changing your story? Were you lying then or are you lying now?"; and
    • b) there is STILL no physical evidence that proves that the Raiders attacked the Crosses and not the Crosses the Raiders.
    • When it's time for closing arguments, Jonah Curtis (the prosecutor) tells Ben to make the closing speech. Never mind that Ben isn't listed as an attorney for the prosecution, but as a prosecution witness, and therefore has no right to make the speech.
  • Hope Spot: In the beginning London Bridges Geoffrey Shafer picks up a young streetwalker named Marie, and the audience can already guess what he will do based off his track record. He is then ambushed by The Wolf and his men who thank Marie for drawing Geoffrey out and then promptly kill her.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: At first children's rhymes, now with "cross" in the title. Still, if you can have a murder mystery titled Double Cross, you should.
  • The Last Dance: In Cat and Mouse, Gary Soneji, now dying of AIDS, goes on one last frenzied rampage, killing everyone he feels the need to and dead set on murdering Cross.
  • Madness Mantra: In Cat and Mouse, when Thomas Pierce is exposed as Mr. Smith, he starts repeating: I MURDERED ISABELLA CALAIS AND I CAN'T STOP THE KILLING. The first sentence is spelled out in his victims' initials. The second would have been.
  • The Mole: In Rose Are Red the Mastermind turns out to be FBI Agent Kyle Craig. He also helped out Casanova and the Gentleman Caller during Kiss The Girls.
  • The DC Audience Killer from Double Cross.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: In the end of Big Bad Wolf Pasha Sorokin is shot with a rocket launcher.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Butcher, The Tiger and the Wolf. Cross himself also goes by the nickname of The Dragon Slayer.
  • Obfuscating Disability: In the Alex Cross novel London Bridges, Geoffrey Shafer uses a wheelchair he does not need as part of his disguise.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The vampire cult in Violets Are Blue is more like the Manson Family than a group of vampires. Then again it's not exactly common for real vampires to appear in police fiction.
  • The Plan: Four Blind Mice is so strange that Neither Alex nor the contract killers figure out what the guy hiring them is doing.
  • Pun: In Cat and Mouse Mr. Smith "pierced" Isabella's heart.
  • Racist Grandma: Nana Mama does not trust white people.
  • Really Gets Around: Whenever Cross or Sampson aren't losing their wives to the job, they're romancing new ones.
  • Scary Black Man: John Sampson. Played Straight when he's on the job, subverted when he isn't.
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target: In Mary, Mary the killer Micheal Bell was really trying to kill his wife, and killed other people to frame it on a woman named Mary Wagner.
  • Widower Hero: Cross and Sampson are also prone to losing their many wives over the course of the books.
  • You Have Failed Me: Happens twice in Big Bad Wolf:
    • "The Wolf" does this to the kipnapper duo, after they left too many witnesses.
    • In the end The Wolf AKA Pasha Sorokin is killed by another criminal going by the alias The Wolf.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness
    • The Mastermind does this to his first two robbery crews in Roses Are Red.
    • In the beginning London Bridges, The Wolf and his men do this to young streetwalker named Marie after she helps them draw out Geoffrey Shafer.
Albert CampionDetective LiteratureThe Alienist
87th PrecinctLong-Running Book SeriesKinsey Millhone

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy