Merry Christmas, Alex Cross

It’s Christmas Eve.

Detective Alex Cross has been called out to catch someone robbing his church’s poor box.

That mission behind him, Cross returns home to celebrate with his family; but with the tree decorating barely underway, his phone rings.

It’s a familiar sound in the Cross household, but the news he hears from the voice on the other end is anything but typical: It’s a hostage situation—an entire family, in their home—that’s quickly spiraling out of control.

Now the famous character created by world-renowned author James Patterson must summon every ounce of his training, creativity, and daring on this, the most precious of days.

To pull off such a rescue, Alex Cross must risk everything—will he make it back alive this time?

Here’s the quick video trailer for Merry Christmas, Alex Cross:

Check out this excerpt from Patterson’s latest thrill ride:

AN IN-FAMILY HOSTAGE SITUATION IS, IN MY OPINION, THE HANDS-DOWN, no-argument worst kind of situation any police officer will ever face. I learned this a long time ago, when I was fourteen, to be exact. A freebaser named Willie Gonzalez took his family hostage down the street from where Nana Mama and I were living. After Gonzalez shot his pregnant wife, his two young daughters, and then himself, I saw one of the police officers who’d been negotiating with him. The poor cop was sitting in his car crying and drinking from an open pint of Jack Daniel’s.

I’ve had the misfortune to be part of a dozen or so of these kinds of details in my career, a few times as lead negotiator, more often as a psychological consultant. There’s a broad spectrum of things that can happen when you’re a cop: You might have to sharpshoot a terrorist. Or meticulously unravel a kidnapping. Or even outfox a serial killer or two. Any of these situations can mess you up psychologically.

But dealing with someone holding family members hostage is like trying to stop a Mack truck carrying a full load of insanity. Usually the person with the gun—more often than not, it’s an obsessive, substance-abusing male, like Willie Gonzalez—is so far gone he doesn’t give a damn about his hostages, or his future. He blames them for something. He blames himself for something. He can’t get his facts straight or see the truth of his circumstances. It’s a lose-lose situation all the way around.

As for hostage negotiators, well, we are usually smart and well trained, but we rarely pull off the heroics you see in movies. Have I ever seen the abductor listen to the negotiator and then throw down his weapon and come out with his hands up? Sure, about as often as I’ve seen the Redskins win the Super Bowl. Two or three times. It’s in the realm of possibility. But the odds are stacked against it.

We got out of the car and headed toward the police vans where McGoey said officers were trying to reestablish contact with Fowler. Nearly an inch of snow had fallen and the storm was only getting worse. My feet began to freeze again.