Study Guide

Alex Cross's Trial Plot Analysis

By James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

Plot Analysis

Exposition

A Trial of a Different Kind

Ben Corbett is used to the courtroom, but he's in for a trial of a different kind. When President Roosevelt sends Ben on a mission to his hometown of Eudora, he's intrigued and a little nervous. Ben knows that it's going to be hard to figure out the truth about lynching and equal rights in his old neighborhood, but he's going to try to get to the bottom of this situation, once and for all—because the President asked, yes, but also because helping the helpless is kind of Ben's thing. Armed with a mission from the oval office, Ben (and our story) are officially on the move.

Rising Action

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Ben knew his mission wasn't going to be fun, but he never expected to uncover so much terribleness. Not only does he find evidence in Eudora of Black men and boys being lynched for no reason at all, he learns that many white folks in the town enjoy this practice and think of it as entertainment. Yikes.

When Ben starts fighting this ideology, he gets caught in the crosshairs, and it's not long before Ben is lynched and almost dies. Everyone in Eudora is onto Ben and the fact that he's really in town for a mission other than the one he reports to people (ahem, interviewing judges). This is when things start getting really complicated for our dear Ben—like, life and death complicated.

Climax

No Rest for the Wicked

Once Ben's physical wounds heal, he's back out on the streets, trying to fight injustice. After he learns that his friend Abraham's family is in trouble, he enlists the help of his old pal L.J., and together they set up a perimeter around Abraham's house to protect him from the White Raiders (a.k.a. the KKK). Sure enough, they show up before long, and two people die in the ensuing fight; L.J. and Ben demand that the White Raiders are arrested for murder. This is a turning point for Ben, but also for the town itself. Finally some white men have to go to trial for killing Black men.

Falling Action

The Jury's Out

Things are looking up for Ben when the White Raiders are put on trial. Well, until his dad is the judge assigned to the case. Ben knows the other lawyer (a guy by the name of Loophole Lewis) and his dad will cook up a scheme to get the white men off the hook, and he's right. Between the fake search warrant and the judge overruling every one of their claims, there's no fair trail. This leads Ben to decide that his work is done in Eudora. Things aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but he's done all he can for the cause and is ready to go back home to Washington.

Resolution

Mr. Corbett Goes to Washington

Back home, Ben meets up with Roosevelt to review his mission. He expects the President to be disappointed at the outcome of the trial, but instead he's over the moon and thanks Ben for all his hard work. Ben feels a little sick about the whole thing: Men died over this battle, and here the President is…celebrating? He rushes home to his family and promises never to leave them again. Ben realizes that he needs to stick around more for his wife and daughters, so while he'll continue his work for the cause, he'll also be there for them, too.

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