If you are familiar with James Patterson, you know that he is not only one of the world’s bestselling authors, but also one of the most prolific. He has been publishing books since the 1970s, but it was his first book about former FBI agent and Washington, D.C. psychologist Alex Cross, Along Came a Spider, that catapulted him into the literary spotlight. And he’s stayed there ever since. (Fun fact: he holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers.)
In the 25th book in the series, Criss Cross, Alex Cross and his partner, John Sampson witness an execution in a Virginia penitentiary, followed hours later by a copycat crime that includes a note for Alex: “You messed up big time, Dr. Cross.” Alex and John race to discover the meaning behind it, hoping an innocent man wasn’t just put to death.
Twenty-five is a lot of books in a series! If you’ve always wanted to read James Patterson, his Alex Cross series is a great place to begin. But with so many titles, which ones should you pick up first? Here’s a list of the ten best Alex Cross books according to Goodreads, to help you get started.
Average Rating: 4.23
Alex Cross returns to his North Carolina hometown for the first time in over three decades to help his cousin, who has been accused of a horrible crime. But searching for this killer will unearth secrets about his own past he never knew.
Average Rating: 4.2
Alex Cross is involved in the trial of his life—and this time he’s on the other side of the law. Alex is accused of murdering the followers of his nemesis, Gary Soneji, in cold blood. His only hope of walking out of the courtroom a free man is proving it was self-defense. But even those closest to him are starting to doubt his intentions.
Average Rating: 4.16
The stakes have never been higher as Alex Cross might have to sacrifice to give a killer they want in order to save the people he loves the most. But just how far will a madman try and make Alex go before he can get his family back?
Average Rating: 4.1
The book that started it all! Alex Cross is a homicide detective with a Ph.D. in psychology. Jezzie Flanagan is the first woman ever to hold the highly sensitive job as supervisor of the Secret Service in Washington. Drawn to one another, Alex and Jezzie start a forbidden love affair, but it’s not to last if deranged psychopath Gary Soneji gets his way.
Average Rating: 4.07
Detective Alex Cross has to put his wedding plans on hold when someone executes two of Washington D.C.’s most corrupt politicians. As Alex investigates the crime, more crooked politicians die, sparking a debate: is the killer a hero or a vigilante?
Average Rating: 4.06
Detective Alex Cross has his hands full as the crime scenes start piling up: first a murdered woman and a missing baby, followed by two more murders. The city is buzzing about three potential serial killers, but Alex may be up against one killer who literally changes faces.
Average Rating: 4.07
Nothing is more important to Alex Cross than his family: his wife, Bree, his grandmother, and his children. That also means he has an Achilles heel, one that an unknown enemy is about to exploit, forcing Alex to discover just what he’s willing to give up in order to keep them safe.
Average Rating: 4.05
As the nation mourns a fallen leader, Alex Cross must help his wife, Bree Stone, find a sniper before they cost Bree her job and the city of Washington, D.C., more lives. Appointed to the task force by the President, Alex begins to suspect the attacks are the beginning of a larger plot—but can they stop it in time.
Average Rating: 4.04
Alex Cross is up against the most elusive enemies of his career as he hunts for a group of bank robbers who have been terrifying Washington D.C. with a string of heists that end in murder. As Alex races to find the people responsible, he learns that there may be one brilliant yet dangerous mastermind pulling all the strings.
Average Rating: 4.03
And last, but not least, two of the most important cases of Alex’s professional career. Detective Alex Cross is one of the first on the scene after the abduction of the President’s children, but it quickly becomes clear that someone very high-up is trying to keep him off the case. Shortly after, a deadly contagion is released into Washington D.C.’s water supply. Alex must work fast to solve both horrible crimes, despite the opposition to his involvement.
What to Read Next
Liberty Hardy is a Book Riot senior contributing editor, co-host of All the Books, a Book of the Month judge, and above all else, a ravenous reader. She resides in Maine with her cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon. You can see pictures of her cats and book hauls on Twitter @MissLiberty and Instagram @franzencomesalive.