So, during Law & Order marathons, James Patterson is running pretty strange advertisements for his latest novel, I, Alex Cross. It’s just him on screen, holding up the novel and telling viewers: “Buy this book. Or I’ll have to kill off Alex Cross…It’s very good by the way.” I don’t think of Patterson as an auteur with great artistic integrity, or anything, and I assume it’s an echo of National Lampoon‘s “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, we’ll Kill This Dog” cover, but it still seems unusually ineffective. Patterson’s not going to kill off a successful character, so the threat is hollow. And the spot does zero to convince readers who aren’t already familiar with Patterson’s work that the novel is remotely worth reading. Maybe they assume that anyone who is watching Law & Order marathons is naturally a Patterson-head. But it’s still a weak pitch.