Vampires, magicians, murder, and mayhem fill the pages of James Patterson’s 2001 novel, Violets Are Blue
. This is Patterson’s seventh crime thriller to feature fortysomething psychologist turned homicide detective Alex Cross. At the conclusion of Roses Are Red
(2000), Cross, a lonely man but devoted father, loses his new romantic and professional partner when she’s brutally killed by his nemesis, the Mastermind. In Violets Are Blue
, Cross continues his deadly cat-and-mouse game with the Mastermind while also investigating a bizarre, vampiric murder spree. As he follows the trail of bodies from California to South Carolina to Louisiana and back, Cross tangles with tigers, a subculture of ritualistic poseurs and, of course, the Mastermind.
The novel opens in Virginia, where Cross is at the scene of his partner’s grisly slaughter. He receives a call from the Mastermind, who perversely prides himself on butchering the woman and taunts Cross with threats that his family will be next. Cross’s three young children live with his grandmother in Washington, DC. Alarmed by the chilling phone call, Cross rushes back to his family.
In the next chapter, the narrative jumps to San Francisco and exchanges Cross’s first-person point of view for a third-person perspective. A man and woman jog through the evening fog in Golden Gate Park, trailed by unusual growls. Suddenly, a tiger tackles the man. Moments later, two men attack the woman, sinking unnatural fangs into her flesh.
Back in DC, Cross answers another call from his longtime FBI collaborator, Kyle Craig, who reports that two bite-riddled, blood-drained bodies have been found hanging upside down from trees in Golden Gate Park. Strange as such ritualistic killings are, they’re similar to another case Cross had investigated without success in DC. Loathe to leave his kids for work yet again, especially with the Mastermind on the loose, Cross nevertheless flies to San Francisco.
Inspector Jamilla Hughes meets Cross at the airport and takes him to the morgue. A dental expert concludes that the male victim was attacked by a tiger and that the female was bitten by a person wearing fang extensions. This evidence steers Cross’s detective work into the remarkable subculture of vampire poseurs. He visits the Fang and Claw Parlor and discovers that serious members of vampire role-playing clubs wear custom-made fangs. Cross also interviews a vampire scholar from the University of California, Professor Peter Westin. Although Cross is dubious about the existence of actual vampires, Westin declares they are real, and, moreover, that there is a master vampire called the Sire.
Meanwhile, brothers William and Michael Alexander, who believe themselves to be true vampires, engage in blood-sucking and murder on the Sire’s orders. They watch news coverage of their Golden Gate killings with satisfaction, assuring themselves that they’re “an incredibly big deal” and “the next big thing.” To sustain their vampire lifestyle, they break into funeral homes and feed on fresh bodies; they also prey upon unsuspecting pseudo-vampires at role-playing gatherings. The Church of the Vampire, an actual church where “the usual dreaded role-players came,” is one of the brothers’ favorite haunts. William, in a “delicious reverie,” recalls the evening they killed and drained a beautiful blond boy among the poseurs at the church.
More vampire-style murders occur in the area. As Cross talks with a woman who escaped from her would-be killers, she says, “The two men who attacked me were vampires.” Despite a number of leads, Cross and his associates are stymied.
Hanging bodies drained of blood then turn up in South Carolina, and more again in North Carolina. Cross arrives in Charlotte, where he’s bitten while interrogating a young man who lives in a local vampire commune. While recovering from the subsequent infection, Cross studies the case and notices a connection between the path of a traveling magic show and that of the killing spree. The next scheduled venue for the magic show is in New Orleans, so Cross and company race to Louisiana. Although the magicians, Charles and Daniel, reveal themselves to be ringleaders of practicing vampires, their value to the investigation quickly vanishes when they themselves are murdered.
Jamilla Hughes, back in California, traces a fresh set of clues to Santa Cruz and falls into the clutches of William and Michael, who have been following the detective’s progress. The brothers take her to the farm where they were raised, which now serves as a vampire commune. When Cross learns Jamilla has disappeared, he returns to California and, with the help of Craig and the FBI, tracks her location to the farm. They raid the vampire stronghold, rescue Jamilla, and kill the Alexander brothers as well as their pet tiger. Peter Westin is also captured at the farm. The university professor orchestrated the Alexander brothers’ murder rampage as part of his plot to usurp the Sire title from Charles.
Having dispatched the vampire cult, Cross now turns his full attention to the Mastermind, who has continued to taunt him throughout the murder investigations. An emerging romance between Jamilla Hughes and Cross puts her in peril, as the Mastermind targets Cross’s friends and family. Cross decides to keep watch outside Jamilla’s San Francisco house and is stunned to realize, when Kyle Craig appears, that he is the Mastermind. Another cross-country chase ensues, and Cross finally catches up with Craig at the home of his friend, Kate McTiernan. Cross overpowers Craig and uses his home answering machine to record Craig’s confession to a number of murders. Cross finally returns to his family and resigns from his job with the DC police force.
James Patterson has published more than twenty novels featuring Detective Alex Cross. Enormously popular with readers, several Alex Cross stories have also been adapted to the big screen, including the first title in the series, Along Came a Spider
. Patterson, who has written (or cowritten) close to one hundred and fifty books for adults and children, holds the Guinness World Record
for the most books to reach number one on the New York Times