4th Of July – James Patterson – missing some of the characters, but enjoyable nonetheless

4th Of July – Patterson gives most of the characters a holiday in this one

 

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(4/5)

Pros: Two intriguing stories.

Cons: But it’s supposed to be about four women, not one woman and a dog!

 

4th Of July is the fourth book in James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series.  In this case, Patterson has teamed with Maxine Paetro.  Typically, these books revolve around four professional women in the San Francisco area who put their heads together to solve local murder cases.   But in this book, it’s only Lindsay Boxer, the homicide lieutenant, who gets all the good stuff.  Claire, the medical examiner and Cindy, the reporter barely stop by to say hello in this book.  In fact, the only thing “the club” does in this book, is invite Yuki, Lindsay’s new lawyer, to join them, replacing Jill from the first three books.

While I found it disappointing that this book totally ignored “the club”, the story doesn’t disappoint at all.  In fact, there are two stories, both fascinating.

First we have Lindsay trying to solve a case where two teenagers were electrocuted.  When clues lead her and another officer into a car chase, mayhem ensues.  Lindsay and the other officer are shot.  To defend herself from further attacks, Lindsay shoots.  In the end, a teenage girl is killed, her brother paralyzed for life.  Now Lindsay is facing a huge lawsuit brought by the kids’ parents.  Wrongful death, failure to follow proper procedure, it’s a media party.

Until the trial, Lindsay is forced to take a leave from the force, so she goes to her sister’s house on the shore for a little relaxation.  Except she barely has a chance to breathe before she’s up to her neck in some murders that are taking place in this otherwise peaceful town.  And the mother of all coincidences – the current murder spree bears a striking resemblance to a cold case from Lindsay’s past, one that’s haunted her for 10 years.

OK – so the use of coincidence in these books can be annoying.  But without such things happening – things that would never happen in real life – there wouldn’t be much of a story, so we just have to go with it.

It’s all worth it, because the two stories had me turning pages in record time.  In the first story, we hear both sides of the case, and we’re given a lot to think about.  It’s not as black and white as I originally assumed, there’s a lot of gray area when it comes to out-of-control minors, and police officers doing their duty.  It’s also a great introduction to Yuki, who will be making a showing in the future books.

The second story is just as interesting.  You have several murders which appear to be unrelated, except by the signature of the murderer.  You have the local police force, which at first, doesn’t want any help from an outsider like Lindsay.  And you have a bunch of very colorful local citizens who bring some amount of humor to this story.  And, of course, there’s Martha, Lindsay’s dog.  Martha appears in all of the books, but actually has a bit of a starring role in this book.  More so than the other “club” members, that’s for sure!

The ultimate end of this story is really interesting.  I was left feeling very satisfied, with no thread left dangling.

I liked that Joe, Lindsay’s boyfriend from the previous book, returns in this novel, but only in small doses, and always in a kind, supportive role.  We’re not subjected to endless bedroom romps in this book, and I, for one, am grateful for that.

As stated earlier, this really isn’t a typical “club” book – it’s really a one-woman show.   Well, one-woman and one-dog.  But it’s still a very enjoyable book, with two very intriguing stories.

1st To Die
2nd Chance
3rd Degree
The 5th Horseman
The 6th Target
7th Heaven
The 8th Confession
The 9th Judgment
10th Anniversary
11th Hour
12th of Never
Unlucky 13
14th Deadly Sin

2nd Chance by James Patterson – A terrific follow-up

2nd Chance by James Patterson

 

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(5/5)

Pros:The main plot, and the subplots all kept me captivated.

Cons: Just a minor one – the whole “jurisdiction” thing.

2nd Chance is the second book in James Patterson’s The Women’s Murder Club series.  For those unfamiliar with the series, it revolves around four women who pool their resources to solve murders in San Francisco.  Lindsey is the Lieutenant in charge of homicide for the police force.  Claire is the medical examiner.  Jill is the district attorney, and Cindy is a reporter.  When grisly crime sprees hit the area, and no one seems to be able to solve them, the four women put their heads together.  Most of the books are written as collaborations; in this case Patterson has teamed with Andrew Gross.

The murder spree in this book is particularly troublesome.  It starts out with what looks like a random hate crime aimed at a church yard full of children.  But there’s only one fatality, an 11 year old girl.  While everyone’s looking one direction, Lindsey’s convinced that this was a targeted kill.  But who would want to take out a little girl?  When another murder is investigated, that at first appears to be a separate incident, Claire’s investigation reveals a possible link.  Soon more bodies are added to the list, but the true connection among the victims eludes the investigators for a very long time.  It takes all four women collaborating before they can piece the puzzle together.

In fact, that’s one aspect I really liked about this book.  As opposed to others, where Lindsey does 95% of the work and the other three women just sort of hang around supporting her, in this case they all contributed to the solution.

I also liked that Cindy’s character was “toned down” a bit, from the previous book in which she was shown as extremely “pushy”.  Here, she was shown as kind, helpful, and even a little bit vulnerable as she starts a romance with the local minister.

There’s a tender subplot involving Jill’s pregnancy, and a very major subplot involving Lindsey’s father – a man she hasn’t seen for her entire adult life.  These subplots were very interesting, and helped develop these characters, so that you feel you “know” them.

As far as the murderer goes, he’s an interesting one, I’ll tell you that much.  Occasionally we get to listen to his point of view as he goes about his business, always planning the next victim’s demise.  But we never know who he is, so there’s plenty of mystery for us to work out, along with the women.  His motives are made perfectly clear, so that at least we can understand why he’s doing what he’s doing.  Not that we like him one single bit.  He’s as evil as they come.  But at least there’s an explanation given for his actions.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the theme of “us versus them” when it comes to who “owns” the case, and who’s in charge.  Does the local police department get to call the case “theirs” or does the FBI ultimately take control?  I, for one, don’t really care.  I don’t need to read all about jurisdiction policies.  I just want to read about the murders, and watch the women work to solve them.

Other than this one minor complaint, I thought this was a terrific book.  It does a great job representing a series that is a real pleasure to read.

1st To Die
3rd Degree
4th Of July
The 5th Horseman
The 6th Target
7th Heaven
The 8th Confession
The 9th Judgment
10th Anniversary
11th Hour
12th of Never
Unlucky 13
14th Deadly Sin