It's a snowy Christmas Eve, and Detective Alex Cross is at home celebrating with his family.
Nana Mama's famous pecan pie is in the oven and the kids are hanging their favourite ornaments on the tree.
Just as Alex's wife Bree emerges from the kitchen with a bowl of homemade eggnog, his phone rings with news that shatters the night: at a nearby home, a family has been taken hostage - and the situation is spiralling out of control fast.
Alex rushes to the scene and confronts the unthinkable: a father is threatening to murder his own children and his ex-wife.
Then just as the insanity peaks, a second horrific situation explodes - one that no one could have foreseen and that puts millions of people at risk.
This is a red alert of the darkest kind, and Alex is forced to make a decision that could end as many lives as it saves - including his own. Merry Christmas, Alex Cross is James Patterson's most shocking Alex Cross novel yet: a breakneck-paced and heart-pounding adrenaline rush of a thriller.