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December, 2008:

Bleed The World

The Credit Crunch Christmas Song!

Google Zeitgeist 2008 Published

Google’s annual year-end Zeitgeist has been published and it provides an interesting snapshot of what people have searched for over the past year. In a wider context, it’s also an indication of general matters of interest throughout the world. You can even get country-specific lists.

Most of the searches, to be honest, are pretty self explanatory. Sites such as Facebook rank top as a search, because people tend to just type “facebook” into their search bar or address bar, then click the link that appears in the listings rather than type “” directly. But at least this way Google can track it 🙂

The interesting lists though are the specific ones. Martinis, Mojitos and Margaritas are the top cocktails, for example. And American Idol, Lost, and SNL are the top shows. Man Utd, Chelsea, and Chivi (?) were the top “soccer” teams, and in the UK Facebook, Iplayer and BBC were the top.

Nothing surprising then, really, but it does at least show the most popular are now very well entrenched.

Cross Country Review, James Patterson

Double Cross is James Patterson’s latest Alex Cross based crime novel. This time, the eponymous hero heads for Africa.

There’s a lot of good and bad things you can say about Patterson’s work, but the fact remains his novels regularly top the bestseller lists and he remains immensely popular with a huge fanbase. And I am one of those fans 🙂

Patterson is a franchise author extraordinaire, somewhat akin to authors such as Tom Clancy. He writes mainly crime thrillers, but he has dabbled in children’s books and romance. He also partners with other writers to help with his prodigious output. Alex Cross is his first, and most popular, series, with the Women’s Murder Club the second. Sometimes, you get the feeling the Patterson Brand is now more important than the writing itself, but he still delivers.

Cross Country follows from the other “Cross” titled novels, with the first batch of entries into the series all have nursery-rhymed themed titles.

In his time Dr. Alex Cross has worked for Washington DC PD, the FBI, as a Psychologist, and as a Consultant. His speciality is Criminal Psychology and profiling. He has caught numerous psycopaths and serial killers, most memorably Kyle Craig, Gary Soneji, and Geoffrey Shafer. He was portrayed by Morgan Freeman in adaptations of the first two novels, but in the books he looks like a young Mohammed Ali.

He lives with his three children and his Nana Mama – his feisty grandmother who raised Cross. He’s a strong family man, but during the novels he has a string of relationships, many of which have failed or ended in tradegy due to his work.

In “Cross Country” Alex finds himself caught up with Nigerian underworld in Washington DC when an old friend of his is brutally murdered. The chase soon leads to an african warlord known as The Tiger who recruits young boys to fight in his personal army of thugs. Alex heads to Nigeria to continue the hunt. He has some help from a CIA contact there, but mostly he is on his own.

In Nigeria Alex is quickly caught and thrown into a brutal hellhole jail and tortured. He follows the leads he has and meets up with an intrepid young reporter called Adanne. He heads for the Darfur Refugee Camps and the diamond mines of Sierra Leone on his travels. He soon discovers that Africa is a country of immense corruption, in more ways than one.

Eventually, after missing the Tiger at every turn, he gets the confrontation he wanted, but it doesn’t go well. He gets forced home from Africa by the American Consultate there after pushing one too many wrong buttons, but the trouble follows him…

Like all Alex Cross novels this is a quick read, very hard-edged and punchy with rarely a wasted scene. It’s not a long novel since there is a lot of “white space” in the book, as many chapters are only a page or two long. It’s part of Patterson’s writing style and helps speed the story along.

Apart from being a typical Alex Cross “Chase The Criminal” novel this is also a comment on Africa, albeit a pretty naive one, but you do get a taste of at least some of the unlawfulness that is rife there. I also found the entry into the Cross series to be much more bleak and violent – but still well written. While part of the edge is taken away because you never feel Alex will really die or fail to get his man, there are some heart stopping moments.

This is the 14th novel in the series and the pattern has long become formulaic but I don’t care: Keep them coming!

Rating: 8/10 You know what to expect by now, but it’s nice to see Alex again

James Patterson Official Site