It is recommended by the author, James Patterson, that the Alex Cross series of books be read in order of publication. By reading the series in order, the reader becomes familiar with the characters and history that future books are based.
Reading the series in order benefits the reader to understand the main character, Alex Cross, and his career and personal life changes. The reader understands the character development over time throughout the series. If read out of chronological order, the series can become confusing to readers as later works in the series reference previous novels.
The Alex Cross series, written by James Patterson, currently contains a total of 22 books beginning with "Along Came a Spider," published in 1992, and ending with "Hope to Die," published in 2014. The stories follow the life of a forensic psychologist named Alex Cross who begins working for the Washington, D.C. Police Department and transitions to a senior agent for the FBI.