Ali Cross

Ages: 9 - 12Publisher: Little, Brown and Company for Young Readers Narrator: Zeno Robinson and Andre BlakeAuthor: James Patterson

Parents may be familiar with James Patterson’s wildly popular books centered around detective Alex Cross. And now, to reach a new generation of readers, Patterson has produced his first book focusing on middle-schooler Ali Cross, Alex’s son.

Ali looks up to his dad and wants to follow in his footsteps, so when Ali’s friend, Gabe, disappears, Ali is determined to find him. “People don’t just disappear. There’s always an explanation. That’s what my dad says. He should know. His name is Alex Cross. He’s a homicide detective with the Washington, D.C. police. I’ll tell you this much: I hope I can be half the detective he is someday,” Ali tells readers as he narrates his part of the story. His father narrates some of the chapters from his point of view.

Alex’s voice, read by Andre Blake, is deep, sure and strong — just what you would expect for the character. And Ali, voiced by Zeno Robinson, sounds just right, too, — at times worried about his friend, at times talking slang to his buddies, at times being remorseful, sad, or happy. The chapters are short, many about four-minutes each, which makes for easy, stop-and-start listening.

Ali begins investigating — looking for his friend — using their online video game, Outpost, as a starting point. Meanwhile, Alex Cross is on trial for a crime he says he didn’t commit, and a string of robberies is being committed that both Alex and Ali get mixed up in, as one of the break-ins happens at their house.

Dad and son have a loving relationship, but Alex tells Ali not to play sleuth. Does Ali listen? You can probably guess the answer. Will Ali wind up helping solve the mystery and find Gabe? The audio story is gripping right up to the end, in true James Patterson page-turning style.


Ann Oldenburg ©2020 Parents’ Choice

Ann Oldenburg, lecturer and assistant director of the journalism program at Georgetown University, writes about television, food, workplace issues and other pop culture topics. A University of Florida Gator with a degree in journalism, she began her career at The Washington Post and spent more than two decades with USA TODAY. She and her husband have three sons and live in McLean, Virginia.

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