Review of Pop Goes the Weasel by James Patterson

I’ve read most of James Patterson’s novels in recent years and have particularly enjoyed the Alex Cross series. Alex is a Washington police detective, psychologist and profiler who is responsible for catching several high profile serial killers who have a habit of taunting and endangering him and his family.

Pop Goes The Weasel, one of the earlier Alex Cross novels starts out with the murder of a young black prostitute whose body is dumped naked in Washington. Alex ties the murder in with others that have occurred where the victims clothing and identification have been removed. His boss doesn’t agree and orders Alex to investigate another higher profile case of the murder of a businessman, but Alex and his lifelong friend police officer John Sampson continue to investigate the series of killings in their own time.

This isn’t a whodunit; we learn right at the beginning that the serial killer Geoffrey Shafer works for the British Embassy in Washington and has diplomatic immunity. He has a wife and young family who believe that he is Mr wonderful because that is the way that he behaves towards them. In private Geoffrey carries out an online fantasy game called the Four Horsemen with 3 other ex British secret service officers. In the game Shafer’s name is Death and the aim amongst the 4 players is to create a ‘better’ fantasy than the other 3 players but none of the players are sure if the other players stories are just fantasy or true.

Alex Cross is a widower with 2 children and a girlfriend called Christine. Early on in the novel Christine accepts a proposal from Alex and they go on holiday with his family to Bermuda. During the holiday Christine disappears and it is months before Alex discovers whether she has been kidnapped or murdered, or whether or not Christine’s disappearance is tied to the murder investigation.

My Review

Although I have enjoyed reading all of the other novels in this series I didn’t find Pop Goes The Weasel as gripping as the rest. Perhaps because the character of Geoffrey Shafer wasn’t as believable as James Patterson usually makes his characters. The plot was a little too intricate to be believable and at times I lost the plot with it.

What I like about the Alex Cross series is the interaction between Alex and his family – especially Nana. Alex’s elderly grandmother Nana lives with and looks after him and his 2 young children. A wise lady, who at over 80 has more energy than most of us at half of her age. You often find humour in their conversations and the love between them is apparent.

James Patterson has invented a strong well thought out character in Alex who is dedicated to his family and job. At times the job seems more important but then there are heart-warming scenes with his family to temper the more gruesome accounts of murder.

The story also shows how police forces may differentiate wrongfully between crimes and the classes of victims. Prostitutes are human beings and have just as much right as businessmen not to be offended against and investigations should have equal importance.

Although I got a bit lost during the last few chapters the ending was satisfactory with a few surprises. Pop Goes The Weasel is certainly worth reading if you like this genre, but I would advise that you read the series from the beginning through rather than in a mixed order as I have.

Patricia has been writing reviews and articles for several years. You can find more of her work at where you can also submit your own articles and find free content for your websites and ezines. To learn about writing visit Patricia’s creative writing site where you can find masses of free writers tools and software.