The first five James Patterson books featuring Alex Cross are "Along Came a Spider," "Kiss the Girls," "Jack & Jill," "Cat and Mouse" and "Pop Goes the Weasel." James Patterson published his first book featuring the Alex Cross in 1992, and continues to write novels featuring the character, as of 2015.
Alex Cross is an African-American father who works as a deputy chief of detectives. In "Along Came a Spider," Cross becomes involved in a high-profile kidnapping case. The kidnapper, Gary Soneji, also appears in "Cat and Mouse," the fourth Alex Cross novel. Patterson's Alex Cross novels typically incorporate a murder-mystery narrative.
In a 2010 article, the New York Times catalogued Patterson's career as a fiction writer, and credits Patterson's success to his frequent publishing. In 2009, Patterson published nine original novels. Guinness World Records lists James Patterson as the author with the most New York Times bestsellers.
In an interview with USA Today, Patterson revealed that he first conceived Alex Cross as a female character. Patterson quickly changed the character from female to male because he found the concept of creating an African-American female protagonist too daunting.
Patterson noted "The Day of the Jackal" and "The Exorcist" as two novels that inspired him to begin writing commercial fiction. Patterson also revealed details of his writing process, which includes writing every day of the year and working on multiple books at the same time.