Study Guide

Alex Cross's Trial Introduction

By James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

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Alex Cross's Trial Introduction

Not sure about you, but one of our top secret dreams is to be sent on a mission by the President. Like, how cool would that phone call be? We'd happily just go get coffee for the prez, so long as the person sending us on this two-creams-one-sugar mission was sitting in the oval office.

Thing is, we might be romanticizing a presidential mission a bit. Part history, part mystery, all page-turner, James Patterson's 2009 Alex Cross's Trial tells the story of a do-gooder lawyer named Ben Corbett who returns to his Mississippi hometown to investigate a series of lynchings on behalf of then-president, Teddy Roosevelt. What he finds shocks, disturbs, and ultimately changes him, throwing him into the fight of his life, though whether his small town is any better off for his visit remains to be seen.

So, yeah…Maybe the President contacting you directly isn't automatically awesome.

To be clear, Patterson, the book's author, is a legend in his own right. His books have sold more than three hundred million copies worldwide (source), and he holds the record for the most number one New York Times bestsellers (source). On second thought, maybe we'd rather get Patterson coffee…

Whether you're itching to watch a lawyer kick butt and take names, just trying to read every legendary writer ever, or really trying to plan your response should a call from the oval office ever come in, grab a copy of Alex Cross's Trial, and let's get going.

What is Alex Cross's Trial About and Why Should I Care?

Are you the kind of person who stands up for what's right? Do you fight for the little guy or gal when the odds are stacked against him or her?

Chances are pretty good you said yes to those questions—after all, we're all generally trying to do what's right as we make our way through the world. But here's the thing: what's right isn't set in stone. It might seem like it is from where you're sitting, but the simple truth is that what's right is a matter of personal experience and opinion, and it also changes as time goes by and society shifts.

For instance, at one point, enslaving people was seen as totally right by all sorts of folks. And at the same time, it was also seen as completely and horribly wrong by all sorts of other folks. Now while we're firmly on Team Anti-Slavery, our point is that there was a time in U.S. history when being on the opposing side didn't immediately announce that you were a terrible person. Instead someone could think enslaving people was right—and have plenty of other folks totally agree with them. Is it upsetting to think about? Yup. But it's also true.

Alex Cross's Trial is all about what happens when different ideas about what's right come into conflict in the face of Jim Crow laws. While we hope you never confront such high stakes in your own life, taking some time to really dig into the nuances of how concepts of correctness come into being can only serve you well down the road.

Alex Cross's Trial Resources


Writer's Hub
If you want to check out more of Patterson's books, including those about Alex Cross, or you're just curious about who this writer is, swing by his website to satisfy your curiosity.

Movie or TV Productions

Alex Cross
There might not be a movie of this book, but there sure is one about the man behind it. Say hello to Alex Cross.

Articles and Interviews

Patterson on Alex Cross
Patterson talks all things Alex Cross, his personal reading habits, how often he goes to the movies (spoiler alert: a lot), and much more in this interview.

Want to Be a Writer?
Patterson discusses his own experience in becoming a writer and offers up advice to aspiring writers to boot.


Buddy Old Pal
Alex Cross has been in so many of Patterson's novels that Peterson himself can't wait to find out what happens next. Want a peek? Definitely check out this video.

Lessons Learned
Patterson talks about what he's learned about writing bestsellers over the years, all in nice little bite-sized pieces.


Turn Up the Volume
Sit back, relax, and let Dylan Baker read this book to you. Ahhh…


James Patterson
The mind that thought up the novel isn't Alex Cross, but you can check him out here.

Lynching (Warning: Sensitive Material)
It isn't easy to look at this image, but the hard truth is that this man is only one of many more who met a similar fate in America's racist past.

Teddy Roosevelt
He might feature only a little in the novel, but he's pretty famous in his own right.

Army Brat
Ben first met the President back when they served in the army together, so maybe Ben's somewhere in this picture. (Kidding—Ben's made up, though Roosevelt's totally real.)

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