Four Blind Mice
is a thriller by James Patterson. It’s the eighth installment in the Alex Cross
series, which is a genre crossover between crime and suspense. Four Blind Mice
was first published in 2002 and follows Patterson’s famous American detective on his last case before retirement. The book was received well by both critics and long-standing fans of the series. Patterson is an internationally acclaimed author and the Guinness World Record holder for the most #1 New York Times
best sellers. He is actively involved in pro-reading initiatives that are designed to turn children into lifelong readers.
The main protagonist is Detective Alex Cross. He’s about to resign from the Washington, DC, Police Force, and he’s looking forward to spending more time with his family. Although he’s built up a reputation for being the best detective in the force, he wants more in his life than detective work. He plans to become a criminal profiler and work more regular hours—and hopefully find love.
One morning, Cross leaves for work as normal, except this time he’s handing in his resignation letter. Before he leaves the house, his partner, John Sampson, shows up. Sampson needs his help with a new case, and it can’t wait until the office. Cross doesn’t want any more cases, but he knows now isn’t the time to argue with his partner. Instead, he listens to what Sampson has to say.
One of Sampson’s closest friends, who he’s known since serving in Vietnam, has been charged with murder. Since the man is also a war veteran, he’s under the jurisdiction of the US Army, and they’re not inclined to show him mercy. Worryingly, not only is there enough evidence to see him locked up for the rest of his life, but it’s likely he’ll be sentenced to the gas chamber or lethal injection.
Sampson’s distressed because he doesn’t believe his friend is capable of murder. He’s confident that someone is framing his friend for a crime he didn’t commit. Cross wants to believe Sampson, because he knows it’s possible, but he also doesn’t want this case dragging on. He’s torn between helping Sampson and letting the US Army have its justice. Ultimately, he decides to trust Sampson and help his friend.
Cross discovers that the accused man is Sergeant Ellis Cooper and that his modus operandi
is particularly brutal. Cooper’s allegedly murdered three young female civilians and painted them in the colors of the US flag—red, white, and blue. The murders, then, clearly have a wider and more wicked political meaning than Cross originally thought possible.
Soon, Cooper’s formally convicted of triple homicide. Unless Cross and Sampson can prove this is a miscarriage of justice, Cooper will die. Together, Cross and Sampson investigate other cases in the US where Army personnel are involved. They wonder if a crime like this one has happened before. Disturbingly, it has.
On many occasions, Army personnel have been convicted and executed for murders in similar circumstances. Each time, victims are painted in the colors of the US flag, and the Army fails to investigate the crimes properly. The murderer leaves calling cards, such as straw Asian dolls, at the scene, which puzzle everyone, but no one analyzes them properly. Everyone’s turned a blind eye to what appears to be an obvious pattern. Cross knows there’s someone far deadlier than even a serial killer out there, and there’s no telling who the next victim is.
What Cross and Sampson discover is more shocking than they imagined. During the Vietnam War, three Army Rangers terrorized the local area, killing people seemingly at random. Thomas Starkey, Brownley Harris, and Warren Griffin killed unarmed villagers and innocent civilians without authorization, and they painted them red, white, and blue. In Army circles, these men are known as the Three Blind Mice.
Cross tracks these murderers down, but he doesn’t get the chance to bring them into custody. The men attack Cross and Sampson, and the detectives must shoot them dead. Sampson’s worried that he won’t get justice for his friend because they can’t prove who the Three Blind Mice killed. Cross, however, believes the real leader behind the killings is still alive—and that there are Four Blind Mice.
During their investigation, Sampson and Cross discover that a commandant called General Mark Hutchinson orchestrated the killings in Vietnam and arranged the framing of innocent soldiers. Many high-ranking Army officials knew about these killings and did everything they could to cover them up. The Three Blind Mice weren’t just random murderers; they were assassins hired by Hutchinson who were sent in to eliminate certain gangs and witnesses to other war crimes, including rape.
Together, Cross and Sampson hunt down Hutchinson, but he traps them both. Hutchinson is determined to kill them before they can expose this conspiracy to the nation. Cross and Sampson beat Hutchinson and plan on bringing him to justice, but not in time to save Cooper. Cross is still determined to leave detective work behind, and he resigns to join the FBI as a profiler.