|Plot Summary of The Big Bad Wolf|
Little, Brown, Nov 2003, 27.95, 400 pp.
A man and a woman abduct former Atlanta reporter Elizabeth Connolly from her home. The victim is the ninth in two years kidnapped by this team, who do little to hide the crime. Instead, the brazen duo takes the victim in public places with their horrified families as witnesses. Several homicides have been associated with this deadly team. The FBI believes that this notorious pair works for the Wolf of the Red Mafiya, Pasha Sorokin who sells the kidnapped people on a white slave commodity market.
No longer with the Metro DC police force, the FBI assigns trainee Dr. Alex Cross to investigate the snatchings because the brass believe his unique approach to criminology is needed to break the case. Alex begins making the round picking up tips from his myriad of DC sources. The abductions and collateral murders continue as Alex gets closer to catching the felons, but soon a tip hits home that his family is now a target.
THE BIG BAD WOLF is a well written exciting action packed police procedural that hooks the audience from the moment that Elizabeth is snatched in Buckhead's Phipps Plaza as she was already purchased by a client. Bringing student Alex to run the case in spite of his record with DC Metro seems hard to accept especially with the hard nosed agents basically bowing to his greater wisdom. Still once that stark leap is made, fans will enjoy Alex Cross, FBI Agent in Training battling the Wolf and his pack.
Harriet Klausner, Resident Scholar
|"In Patterson's latest novel in his Alex Cross series, Cross has left the Washington Police Department and is starting life as an FBI agent. Meanwhile, across the USA, women are vanishing. They are being kidnapped to order in an enormous operation run by the powerful Russian gangster, the Wolf. As Cross starts investigating, he finds his family under threat yet again - but this time, in a very different way. Is Alex's new life going to be over before it has barely begun?
James Patterson's novels are always fast and exciting, and 'The Big Bad Wolf ' is no exception. However, his recent books have been somewhat lacklustre and unfortunately, 'The Big Bad Wolf' is caught in this trap. Patterson creates possibilities for himself through Cross' new role in the FBI and his family problems, but he fails to develop them sufficiently. Events that would have been worthy of several pages, if not a whole chapter, are glossed over in a few minutes.
Additionally, Patterson's writing is at time so clunky and tending towards the bathetic, you find it hard to believe that he is an established and skilled author. There is a particular scene, when the character Sphinx is being discussed, where the writing could come directly from a high school student's attempt at writing an adult novel. How Patterson's editors do not notice this is a mystery.
The other thing that detracts from the novel is Patterson's narrative technique of lying to the reader. In a mystery novel, plot twists are expected and a mystery without surprises would be disappointing in the extreme. Jeffery Deaver is fond of them, but his twists do not blatantly mislead the reader. Agatha Christie was heavily criticised for her surprise at the end of 'The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd', but here, Patterson tells the reader many things that are false, and leaves the ending of the book open, ready for a possible sequel.
Whilst I am, and probably always will be, a fan of Patterson, the quality of his writing is decreasing with each successive novel. The Alex Cross series started strongly some years ago, but Patterson seems to have lost his edge. He needs to get some new blood into the series and put more filling into his stories. A book cannot live on adrenaline alone and Alex Cross seems to be fast running out of steam."
Luke Croll, Resident Scholar
|"Former Detective Alex Cross is currently working for the FBI. His very first case involves an alleged white slavery ring and possible leaks from the FBI. Alex is used to battling both sides of the line but is finding it exceptionally difficult to lure the mastermind of this slavery ring out of his den. He calls himself the Wolf and is every bit as ferocious. Feverishly searching for these kidnap victims, Alex runs into conflict with the Bureau when they botch up several times resulting in unnecesary deaths. As Alex gets closer to discovering the identity of the Wolf, likewise, his adversary knows who the FBI agent is as well as his family. Can Alex bring down this ruthless mastermind before he becomes the Wolf's prey?"
Tracey Ray, Resident Scholar
|"What is Alex Cross up to now that Kyle Craig is behind bars? Well he has decided to join the FBI. While he is having a bit of an unorthodox initiation training into the force he is pulled off of a couple of cases.
Someone is out there kidnapping housewives and other unsuspecting middle class people without ransom, or any other clues. The person who is behind this is a new "bad guy" in the mix. He is known as the Wolf and he is a very dangerous former Russian who rules with an iron hand.
But, does anyone really know who he is?
You follow Alex as he is pulled out of his FBI orientation and into trying to track down the missing housewives. At the sametime you also follow what is happening to the housewives, from their point of view. Alex continues to figure out clues to lead to the housewives and hopefully to the "Wolf".
Also, Alex's youngest son's mother comes back to town and wants to have custody again, which helps to sidetrack Alex's thoughts. "
Tanya, Resident Scholar
|"The Big Bad Wolf is another in a series of novels by James Patterson featuring Detective Dr. Alex Cross. Cross has a Ph.D. in psychology, and throughout the previous novels he has worked for the Washington, DC police as a homicide detective and unofficial profiler who is occasionally involved with other agencies looking to solve particularly puzzling crimes.
In the latest novel, Cross has gone to work for the FBI, hoping to have more time for his family. (He's a widower with two children by his late wife, and one by a former principal at his children's school who was kidnapped and held for over a year; this is explained in one of the earlier novels, and briefly described in the new one for readers just getting on board.)
As it turns out, there is actually a title character here, unlike the fragments of nursery rhymes gracing the titles of previous Alex Cross novels: The Wolf, shadowy head of the Russian Mafiya (as it's spelled in the book) who seeks to become the head of all organized crime in the US, including a take over of what is left of the Italian Mafia.
The Wolf is described as "hands on" and involved in every criminal activity imaginable. Sex slaves are being sold on the Internet to a private few who can afford what is being offered: custom kidnappings running the gamut from suburban housewives to college students, both straight and gay, who meet specific requirements of the purchasers. The book proper opens with the kidnapping of a suburban "soccer mom" who has the bad luck to resemble Claudia Schiffer, and therefore fulfills an "order" from a "buyer"; luck is not running on either side, however, as she is the wife of a Federal Judge, which automatically brings in the FBI and it's newest "star" none other than Agent-in-Training Det. Alex Cross.
(By describing Phipps Plaza, where she is abducted, and subsequent transfer to another vehicle at Lenox Square, as well as rendering the Buckhead and West Paces Ferry sections of Atlanta fairly faithfully, Patterson is still doing at least some work on these formerly wonderful novels. His description of Millionaire's Row and the Las Olas area of Ft Lauderdale are also on the money, though since he lives down there, that one isn't much of a stretch.)
The kidnapping, we learn, is not a singular occurrence; women have been disappearing around the country and sold into white slavery, though we the readers seem to be expected to concern ourselves mainly with the ones on the East Coast because Cross and the FBI are. There are fairly good descriptions of some areas at Quantico, as well as the Director's building in downtown DC; we also have yet another potential love interest for Dr. Cross. At this point, his personal life is starting to get rather cluttered, what with the return of his youngest son's mother from Seattle now seeking custody of the child, and a current lover, Jamilla, who is also on the West Coast. Dr. Cross is torn thither and yon, but always returns to the case at hand, luckily for the "kidnapees."
We have the standard "Feebs vs. local cops" territorial disputes, and to his credit, Patterson does take on some of the institutionalized problems in the FBI, though there's not much new for anyone who reads the newspaper. Dr. Cross has his share of problems with the politics of the FBI as well as his own personal problems, and that rings true with anyone who battles the daily frustrations of balancing work and family; however, Nana, his grandmother is still kicking, so he doesn't even have to pay for day care. As others are kidnapped, Cross and the FBI are closing in, thanks to the stereotypical teen-aged hacker who manages to break into the "heavily secured" site where the orders are placed. Patterson's making the hacker a 14-year old girl is not exactly a mind blowing twist on a plot device that is becoming as hackneyed (NPI) as car chases in movies.
The absolutely egregious plot hole to end all plot holes occurs as Cross was leading a suspect out of a building in Dallas to a waiting FBI van; Patterson describes the street as having nervous FBI agents, allegedly alert for any kind of trouble, watching the transfer of the prisoner, and yet the Wolf (well, maybe the Wolf, maybe not) is able to pull up practically along side Cross and the suspect (or UNSUB, as we are continually reminded in FBI jargon, though since he is known, he is longer UN, just a SUB) and squeeze off a single round from an automatic weapon as a calling card. The noise is described as loudly echoing between the buildings, ruling out the silencer that may have fooled the agents, and yet nothing, absolutely NOTHING happens; no attempt at apprehension, no losing this (truly) UNSUB in traffic, nothing.
Will good triumph? Will the Wolf be brought down before he can consolidate all of the gangsters in the world under his umbrella? Will Patterson actually go all of the way back to Poe's Purloined Letter, substituting the Wolf for the letter? Well, sheer inertia kept this reader going through this one, but it won't happen again. For true fans, or for new readers wondering what the fuss was about, do yourself a favor and don't bother. Reread (or read) Along Came a Spider, or Jack and Jill, or almost anything else; your time and money will be better spent."
George Loftis, Resident Scholar
|"The Wolf in James Patterson's Big Bad Wolf is a character that loves power and wants to have it all. He becomes the head of the Russian mafia and makes sure everyone connected in or with the mafia knows he is the boss now. He uses his size and strength (and lack of compassion or conscious) to intimidate and scare others. He lives among the wealthy and runs well in their circles without being detected as a bad guy. Alex Cross (this book is in a series of Alex Cross novels) is training to be an FBI agent, but is called on to help out in the case that involves the Wolf. He uses his intellect and powers of research and deduction to help solve the crime. Detective Cross must also keep up with what is going on in his own life with his children and others.
In this novel the Wolf is involved in taking affluent women from their wonderful lives and selling them to the top bidders. Detective Cross must help solve this before more women go missing or are presumed dead. "
Tonya Barnard, Resident Scholar
|Review Analysis of The Big Bad Wolf|
Our unique search engine provides a wealth of detail about books by breaking them down into many different literary elements, all of which are searchable (click here).
Ratings are on a 1-10 scale (Low to High)
Composition of Book
descript. of violence and chases - 16.7%
Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives - 58.3%
Feelings, relationships, character bio/development - 16.7%
Tone of story
- suspenseful (sophisticated fear)
Time/era of story:
- present (2000-2010)
Kid or adult book?
- Adult or Young Adult Book
- escape/rescue from kidnappers
General Crime (including known murderer)
Who's the criminal enemy here?
- white slavery ring
- government investigator
How sensitive is this character?
- sensitive to others' feelings
Sense of humor
- Mostly serious with occasional humor
- Smarter than most other characters
- very athletic
Motive of antagonist
How sensitive is this character?
- mean, arrogant
- Smarter than most other characters
- very athletic
- Mid-Atlantic states
Part of a series?
- mostly 1st
Accounts of torture and death?
- generic/vague references to death/punishment