One of the most beloved characters from prolific author James Patterson was first introduced 30 years ago. The eponymous character of the Alex Cross books in order made his entrance in Along Came a Spider and he has been enthralling readers ever since.
There are 30 books in the Alex Cross series with the 30th novel, Alex Cross Must Die, coming out in November 2023. There have also been short stories, movie adaptations, and spin-offs. It is best to read the Alex Cross books in order to get the most from these suspenseful mysteries and this article will help you with everything else you need to know.
About James Patterson
James Patterson is the bestselling author of the Alex Cross series, which has now spanned 30 years. But he is also the bestselling author of many other titles. In fact, Patterson has written more than 200 books.
If you’re interested, you can find out more by reading our article all about the 200+ James Patterson books in order.
Needless to say, Patterson is an incredibly popular author whose fame has spanned decades and generations, and whose books have sold millions. According to his website, the Alex Cross series alone has sold more than 100 million copies.
While Patterson has written in a variety of genres, he remains most famous for his suspenseful thrillers. He is an American author born in 1947 and his first novel was published in 1976 while he was still working in advertising.
Two decades later Patterson was able to quit his day job and pursue writing full-time.
In addition to penning books himself, Patterson has become famous for his writing collaborations. Notably, he has collaborated with former US President Bill Clinton and most recently Dolly Parton.
Born in New York, he currently lives in Florida with his family.
Who is Alex Cross?
Most of the books within the Alex Cross series are written from the perspective of the titular main character. Alex Cross is a psychologist and police detective in Washington D.C., which is where most of the books take place. His psychology training lends an analytic and rational lens to his investigations.
He has a Ph. D. in psychology with a special concentration in abnormal psychology and forensic psychology from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He first joined the police force as a psychologist and profiler, but throughout the course of the book series he works in many roles within the force and privately.
Cross’s personal life also plays a big role throughout the series. His familial and romantic relationships reveal more about his character as the books progress.
He is an orphan having lost both his parents when he was young. His mother died from lung cancer when he was nine, and his father died one year later. After their deaths he moved from North Carolina to D.C. where he was raised by his grandmother, Nana Mama, although he also has three brothers who were not raised by her.
On James Patterson’s website, Cross is described as athletic, 6’3”, and 200 pounds.
In What Order Should You Read the Alex Cross books?
Now this can be a contentious question within the Alex Cross fandom. Like many mystery thriller novels, most Alex Cross books contain a singular storyline about the pursuit of a criminal or case. Usually that case is resolved by the book’s conclusion, but not all.
There are a few prominent antagonists who are recurring throughout the series. Reading the books in order is important to help you fully understand their motivations and the history between them and Cross. Therefore, some fans are adamant you should read the books in order of publication and for good reason.
In addition to understanding the background context for those recurring characters, reading the Alex Cross books in order is really the best way to understand Alex Cross. If you love character development and progression in the books you read, this is truly the best way to read the books.
Throughout the series Cross’s career evolves and transitions in a multitude of ways, as does his personal life. So, if you choose to read the books out of order, this may become confusing.
Alex Cross Books in Order
So, let’s finally get into the Alex Cross books in order. This list includes all the full-length novels from the main series in order of publication. Fortunately, this order is also the same as the chronological order for the series.
- Along Came a Spider (1993)
- Kiss the Girls (1995)
- Jack & Jill (1996)
- Cat & Mouse (1997)
- Pop Goes the Weasel (1999)
- Roses Are Red (2000)
- Violets Are Blue (2001)
- Four Blind Mice (2002)
- The Big Bad Wolf (2003)
- London Bridges (2004)
- Mary, Mary (2005)
- Alex Cross (2006)
- Double Cross (2007)
- Cross Country (2008)
- I, Alex Cross (2009)
- Cross Fire (2010)
- Kill Alex Cross (2011)
- Alex Cross, Run (2013)
- Cross My Heart (2013)
- Hope to Die (2014)
- Cross Justice (2015)
- Cross the Line (2016)
- The People vs. Alex Cross (2017)
- Target: Alex Cross (2018)
- Criss Cross (2019)
- Deadly Cross (2020)
- Fear No Evil (2021)
- Triple Cross (2022)
- Cross Down (June 2023) (with Brendan DuBois)
- Alex Cross Must Die (Expected: November 20, 2023)
Other Alex Cross Books
In addition to the books above, there are also two books that fall slightly outside the scope of the main series. We’ve included those books here. You can read these according to the publication order of all Alex Cross books, but these books aren’t meant to pick up where the previous book in the series left off.
There are also two BookShots featuring Alex Cross. A BookShot is a novella within the series, making both of these very quick reads.
If you are looking to slot these novellas into a chronological Alex Cross timeline, Cross Kill and Detective Cross should be read back-to-back and in that order after you finish Cross the Line and before reading The People vs. Alex Cross. Cross Kill will contain spoilers for Cross the Line.
Ali Cross Spin-Off Series
James Patterson has also begun a spin-off series from Alex Cross. This series, Ali Cross, only has three books so far, but it follows Alex Cross’s son, Ali, who wants to follow in his father’s footsteps. This is a middle-grade mystery series.
What is the Best Alex Cross Book?
Choosing the best book by any author or from any series is obviously a very personal choice. Each reader will likely have a differing opinion, because it all comes down to personal taste.
However, Along Came a Spider is arguably James Patterson’s best book as shown in our article about the 15 best James Patterson books.
A lot of Alex Cross fans agree with this sentiment that the first book in the series is one of the best, which is another reason why you should start this series from the beginning.
It’s not just readers either. Along Came a Spider has won multiple awards, including International Thriller of the Year, BCA Mystery Guild’s Thriller of the Year, and the Edgar Award. It was also Patterson’s first fiction New York Times bestseller.
While many adore the very first book in the series, the twenty-fifth book in the series has also captured the hearts of many. The People vs. Alex Cross turned the formula of Alex Cross books on its head with Cross himself being the one on trial.
This gives all the more reason to read the Alex Cross books in order so you can determine for yourself what book is the best.
Is There an Alex Cross Movie?
Yes, there are actually three Alex Cross movie adaptations! Two are within the same series, whilst the third was a reboot.
The first person to star as Alex Cross on screen was Morgan Freeman in 1997. The books were adapted out of order with Kiss the Girls premiering first. There are allegedly quite a few changes from the book.
In addition to Freeman, Ashley Judd stars as Kate McTiernan and Cary Elwes stars as Nick Ruskin.
Along Came a Spider was next, premiering in 2001. Again, Morgan Freeman took up the role of Alex Cross. Joining him were Michael Wincott as Gary Soneji and Monica Potter as Jezzie Flanagan.
The franchise had a reboot in 2012 with Tyler Perry starring in the film: Alex Cross. In this reintroduction of the characters and storyline Matthew Fox stars as Picasso and Rachel Nichols as Monica Ashe. While initially there were plans for an Alex Cross sequel starring Tyler Perry, poor performance at the box office led to the cancellation of this project.
Is There a TV Series About Alex Cross?
There has also been a TV show adaptation of the Alex Cross books in the works since early 2020 that has been gaining momentum. The series from Amazon Studios, Cross, began filming in early 2023.
Aldis Hodge will star as Alex Cross in the adaptation. Hodge will also be a producer for the series. As well, James Patterson is actively involved in the project’s development.
Not much has been revealed about the show and what book it will begin with adapting. However, Patterson’s involvement with the adaptation has assured some fans that the show will remain true to the source material.
Ben Watkins is the showrunner and also wrote the script. Filming began at the start of 2023, but it is unclear how much was completed before the SAG-AFTRA and WAG strikes.
Summary of the Alex Cross Books in Order
Now that you know all there is to know about the franchise and how to read the Alex Cross books in order, let’s review the first ten books. If you have never read this series before, proceed with caution as these summaries may contain spoilers for previous books in the series.
1. All Along Came a Spider
Alex Cross is a homicide detective with a Ph. D. in psychology. He works and lives in the ghettos of D.C. and looks like Muhammad Ali in his prime.
He’s a tough guy from a tough part of town who wears Harris Tweed jackets and likes to relax by banging out Gershwin tunes on his baby grand piano. But he also has two adorable kids of his own, and they are his own special vulnerabilities.
Jezzie Flanagan is the first woman ever to hold the highly sensitive job as supervisor of the Secret Service in Washington. Blonde, mysterious, seductive, she’s got an outer shell that’s as tough as it is beautiful.
She rides her black BMW motorcycle at speeds of no less than 100 mph. But what is she running from? What is her secret?
Alex Cross and Jezzie Flanagan are about to have a forbidden love affair — at the worst possible time for both of them. Because Gary Soneji, who wants to commit the “crime of the century,” is playing at the top of his game. Soneji has outsmarted the FBI, the Secret Service, and the police. Who will be his next victim?
Gary Soneji is every parent’s worst nightmare. He has become Alex Cross’s nightmare. And now, reader, he’s about to become yours.
2. Kiss the Girls
In Los Angeles, a reporter investigating a series of murders dies. Then in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a beautiful medical intern suddenly disappears.
Meanwhile in Washington D.C. Alex Cross is back to solve the most baffling and terrifying murder case ever. Two clever pattern killers are collaborating, cooperating, competing — and they are working coast-to-coast. Cross must put his family and himself in danger to find them.
3. Jack & Jill
In the middle of the night, a controversial US senator is found murdered in bed in his Georgetown pied-a-terre. The police turn up only one clue: A mysterious rhyme signed “Jack and Jill” promising that this is just the beginning.
Jack and Jill are out to get the rich and famous, and they will stop at nothing in the pursuit of their fiendish plan.
Meanwhile, Washington, D.C. homicide detective Alex Cross attends to a murder scene only blocks from his house, far from the corridors of power where he spends his days. The victim: A beautiful little girl, savagely beaten and deposited in front of the elementary school Cross’s son attends.
No one in Washington is safe — not children, not politicians, not even the President of the United States. Only Alex Cross has the skills and the courage to crack the case, but will he discover the truth in time?
4. Cat & Mouse
Gary Soneji, a dying prison escapee, is looking for revenge on Cross, while another insane killer is pursued by Thomas Augustine Pierce — a brilliant and relentless detective who may even be better than Cross. As the bodies pile up, and Cross is nearly murdered in his own home, the game of cat and mouse leads to one final trap…
The body count is high, the tension the highest, and the two killers on the loose are watching every move their pursuers make.
Who is the cat, and who is the mouse? What and where is the final trap? And who survives?
5. Pop Goes the Weasel
Alex Cross is happy, but his happiness is under threat by a series of chilling murders. Murders with a pattern so twisted, it leaves investigators reeling. Cross’s ingenious pursuit of the killer produces a suspect: A British diplomat named Geoffrey Shafer.
But proving that Shafer is the murderer becomes a potentially deadly task. As the diplomat engages in a brilliant series of surprising countermoves, in and out of the courtroom, Alex and his fiancée become hopelessly entangled with the most memorable nemesis Alex Cross has ever faced.
6. Roses are Red
In a series of terrifying crimes, bank robbers have been laying out precise demands when they enter the building — and then killing the bank employees and their families if those instructions are not followed to the letter.
Detective Alex Cross takes on the case, certain that this is no ordinary bank robber at work; the pathological need for control and perfection is too great. Cross is in the midst of a personal crisis at home, but the case becomes all-consuming as he learns that the Mastermind is plotting one huge, last, perfect crime.
7. Violets Are Blue
D.C. Detective Alex Cross has seen a lot of crime scenes. But even he is appalled by the gruesome murders of two joggers in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park — killings that look more like the work of savage beasts than humans. Local police are horrified and even the FBI is baffled.
Then, as Cross is called in to take on the case, the carnage takes off, leaving a trail of bodies across America and sweeping him to Savannah, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. His nemesis, the merciless criminal known as the Mastermind, stalks him, taunts him, and once again, threatens everything he holds dear…
8. Four Blind Mice
Detective Alex Cross is on his way to resign from the Washington, D.C., Police Force when his partner’s oldest friend — a Vietnam veteran — is arrested for murder. He is subject to the iron hand of the United States Army, and the evidence against him is strong enough to send him to the gas chamber.
Sampson is certain his friend has been framed, and Alex’s investigation turns up evidence overlooked — or concealed — by the military authorities. Drawing on their years of street training and an almost telepathic mutual trust, Cross and Sampson go deep behind military lines to confront the most terrifying — and deadly — killers they have ever encountered.
Behind these three highly skilled killing machines there appears to be an even more threatening controller. Discovering the identity of this lethal genius will prove to be Cross’s most terrifying challenge ever.
On his visits home, Alex must confront another, more harrowing mystery: What’s the matter with Nana Mama? As he explores the possibility of a new relationship with a woman who offers him new hope, Alex must also confront the fact that his beloved grandmother is only human.
9. The Big Bad Wolf
Alex Cross’s first case since joining the FBI has his new colleagues baffled.
Across the country, men and women are being kidnapped in broad daylight and then disappearing completely. These people are not being taken for ransom, Alex realizes. They are being bought and sold.
And it looks as if a shadowy figure called the Wolf — a master criminal who has brought a new reign of terror to organized crime — is behind this business.
Even as he admires the FBI’s vast resources, Alex grows impatient with the Bureau’s clumsiness and caution when it’s time to move. A lone wolf himself, he has to go out on his own in order to track the Wolf and try to rescue some of the victims while they are still alive.
As the case boils over, Alex is in hot water at home too. His ex-fiancée, Christine Johnson, comes back into his life — and not for the reasons he might have hoped.
10. London Bridges
In broad desert daylight, a mysterious platoon of soldiers evacuates the entire population of Sunrise Valley, Nevada.
Minutes later, a huge bomb detonates a hundred feet above the ground and lays waste to homes, cars, and playgrounds: A town annihilated in an instant. The Russian supercriminal known as the Wolf claims responsibility for the blast.
Alex Cross is on vacation in San Francisco with his girlfriend, Jamilla Hughes, when he gets the call. World leaders have just four days to prevent an unimaginable cataclysm. Racing down the hairpin turns of the Riviera in the most unforgettable finale James Patterson has ever written, he confronts the truth of the Wolf’s identity, a revelation that even Cross himself may be unable to survive.