Tag Archives: James Patterson

Judge & Jury by James Patterson – Don’t read while on jury duty!

Judge & Jury by James Patterson

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See it at Amazon 

(3.5/5)

Pros: thrilling and exciting

Cons: premise quite unrealistic

Judge & Jury by James Patterson and Andrew Gross is the stuff that makes for nightmares in our legal system.  A high-powered mob boss is coming up for trial.  His crimes are numerous and horrific, and there’s a mountain of evidence against him.  Conviction should be a slam dunk.  Just pick 12 jurors and you’re all set.

And therein lies the problem.  12 jurors stand in the way of the mob boss’s freedom.  And if you think he’s going to let that just happen without fighting back, you haven’t read a book or seen a movie that deals with juries and the potential for manipulation.

So we have single Mom Andie who finds herself on the jury.  Sweet Andie and her adorable kid.  What happens to them?  Well, I’m not going to spoil the book for you, but it is the stuff of horror movies.  Let’s just say you shouldn’t read this book while you’re in a jury pool

Like all Patterson books, chapters are short, and the action moves swiftly.  I would even say that the book was hard to put down, as I flipped pages quickly to find out what would happen next.

But upon completion, I’m left with an unsatisfied feeling.  Why?  Because I just don’t buy the whole thing.  I accept that someone can bypass all security measures and get information on the jurors.  I even accept that someone in jail can have far-reaching buddies who act on their behalf.

But the acts that were taken in Judge & Jury just don’t make sense.  I can’t think of a hundred ways to manipulate a jury decision.  Heck, just watch one of the many movies about the subject and you’ll see a bunch of ways.  But what took place in this book wouldn’t really sway a jury.  It’ll cause a mistrial.  It’ll delay things for quite a while.  But I wouldn’t call it a brilliant way to manipulate.  Granted, we have horrible actions, pure evil, all the stuff that makes for a good thriller.  But as for realistic jury manipulation – No.

So, enjoy Judge & Jury for what it is – a fun thriller that had me flying through the pages. But don’t look for realism here or greatnesss – neither is present.

Also by James Patterson:
Four Blind Mice
Invisible
Kill Me If You Can
Mistress

14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson – still holds my interest despite its flaws

14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson

 

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See it at Amazon 

(4/5)

Pros: decent stories, great character development

Cons: main investigation was a bit convoluted

#14 in the Women’s Murder Club series is called 14th Deadly Sin.  James Patterson and Maxine Paetro give us a few different stories as well as some developments in our characters’ lives.

 

 

For those who don’t know, the series is about four women who get together and help solves crimes in San Francisco.  Lindsay is the detective.  Claire is the medical examiner.  Cindy is the reporter.  And Yuki is with the DA’s office.  However, in this book, Yuki gets a new job, one that has her looking at things from a whole new perspective.  Cindy has just written a best-seller.  Claire has very little “screen time” but she does utter one sentence which turns a murder investigation on its head.  So she’s vital to the story, even though she’s barely seen.

 

 

As for Lindsay, she has her hands full.  She’s a mom and a wife, now.  And she’s still solving the department’s toughest cases.  In this book there have been a series of robberies, some of which have included fatalities.  In all cases, the perps are wearing SFPD jackets.  Are these cop-wannabes? Or is it possible that we’re looking at a group of rogue cops?  Worst, could some of the very cops that Lindsay works with every day – officers in whose hands her life sometimes rests – be playing both sides?

 

 

In usual fashion, the story is told from multiple viewpoints.  When it’s Lindsay’s turn, she speaks in first-person.  All of the other stories are told from a third person point of view.  It’s an odd style, but it’s how all the books in the series work.  And, we have Patterson’s trademark short chapters.  Just a couple of pages before we’re off to a different part of the story, and sometimes a different voice.  It can be a bit choppy, but I don’t really mind. 

 

 

The main story, about the robbers in cops’ jackets gets a bit convoluted.  And, if I’m being honest, it had so many characters that I had trouble keeping track of them all.  There’s also an extra little subplot that gets tossed in for no reason other than mucking up an already messy investigation. 

 

 

On the other hand, Yuki’s story was quite interesting.  She’s taken a new job, and her first case is a real doozy.   It was great watching Yuki set her goals and go after them without looking back.  Best of all is that she stands her ground in a tough situation and comes out with her head held high.  I like this confident Yuki!

 

 

Cindy is barely present in this one.  She’s doing great professionally and while she’s been “on-again” and “off-again” with Lindsay’s boss, in this story they get to take things to another level.

 

 

Overall, 14th Deadly Sin is a decent book in a series that always holds my attention.  I enjoy watching these women grow and work together.  And, the ending of 14 definitely makes me look forward to 15 !

 

2nd Chance
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

Invisible by James Patterson – doesn’t hold up

Invisible by James Patterson

 

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See it at Amazon 

(3/5)

Pros: twists and turns

Cons: doesn’t hold up under careful scrutiny

My first thought, after finishing James Patterson’s twisty Invisible was “Cool!”.  But then I sat down and really thought about it, and realized that the turns and twists in this novel were more “gimmick” than cleverly thought surprises.

There’s a serial killer out there.  One who drips pure evil.  And he’s smart beyond belief.  To the point where he’s been getting away with his murders because no one even knows he’s out there.  He leaves the crime scenes looking like tragic accidents.  No one has a clue that a crime’s been committed.  So no one’s looking for our bad guy.

No one except Emmy, a research analyst with the FBI.  She’s the only one who thinks something is “off” about these accidents.  Getting others to believe her is near-impossible, until she finally finds proof that convinces the mucky mucks that there’s a killer out there.  Of course, knowing this, and catching the guy are two entirely different matters.

So that’s the premise, and what follows is pretty typical.  Slowly find clues, figure out who and what you’re dealing with, set a trap, etc. 

But Invisible comes with a few twists.  No, I’m not going to spoil it for you.  I’ll just say that the author wanted to inject some “surprise” into the tale and he did so.  And that’s always a fun thing for the reader.

But, if you then go back and examine the story with a magnifying glass, you’ll find a few inconsistencies, some plot holes, and some things that are just a bit hard to swallow.  In other words, if you want to really enjoy Invisible, don’t be a detail-oriented hard-nose, like me.  Because the story just won’t hold up to careful scrutiny.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you about the level of violence depicted in this book.  Granted, books about serial killers always contain murder and mayhem, but Invisible by James Patterson (and David Ellis) goes a bit beyond the norm in this regard.  It is not for everyone.

Also by James Patterson:

Four Blind Mice
Judge & Jury
Kill Me If You Can
Mistress

Unlucky 13 by James Patterson – lives up to its name

Unlucky 13 by James Patterson

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See it at Amazon 

(2/5)

Pros: a bit of excitement here and there

Cons: but definitely not the best of the series

In general, I enjoy James Patterson’s The Women’s Murder Club series. But Unlucky 13 really lives up to its name as it was pretty awful.

Four women who pull their talents together to solve crimes. Lindsay the homicide detective. Yuki the attorney. Claire the medical examiner. And Cindy the reporter. In general, these ladies make a terrific force, working together, and making the streets of San Francisco safer for all. But in this book the ladies really don’t work together very much. Each sort of has her own story. Except Claire. She’s basically absent for this one.

So you have Lindsay chasing the “belly bomber” with her partner, Rich. What’s a “belly bomb”? Well, this book would have you believe that it’s a teeny tiny bomb that can be put into someone’s food. They eat it and when it hits the stomach acid – well – kaboom! No meal is worth that! With very little clue to go on except for the victim’s last meal, which happens to have been a popular hamburger chain, Lindsay is on the case to track an evil genius who’s making teeny tiny bombs.

Yuki is finally married and on her honeymoon. All’s well, they’re enjoying their cruise, until modern-day pirates attack.

And Cindy takes off after Mackie Morales – the antagonist from the previous book. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the previous book, this story stands on its own. You just have to know that Mackie is a bad girl, and Cindy’s chasing her all over town, with no backup because her friends are – well – busy, given the belly bomber and the pirates and such.

Three completely disjointed stories. Two were Ok. I was interested in the belly bomber. But when all is finally revealed, I was disappointed in the motive. I was hoping for something more than what I got. The pirates situation on the ship provided a lot of action and excitement. But Cindy’s story was humdrum. Just a basic cat and mouse chase, except in this case the cat is untrained for the situation and makes mistake after mistake.

As far as the personal lives go, Claire doesn’t have one, at least not in this book. Cindy still misses Rich, and hopes things can be repaired. Yuki is thrilled to be married. And then there’s Lindsay. Presumably happily married and now a mother. But I can’t help but wonder how having a newborn fits in with a homicide detective who puts her life on the line every day. It’s a tough situation, one that our finest deal with in real life. But in book form, it comes off as unrealistic. You can almost see Lindsay holding a baby in one hand while shooting bad guys with the other.

Overall, Unlucky 13 was not a great read. Three separate stories, none of which really ‘wowed’ me. And very little character development. I really hope 14 does better.

1st To Die
2nd Chance
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
14th Deadly Sin

12th of Never delivers the stories

12th of Never by James Patterson

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See it at Amazon 

(4/5)

Pros: lots of intriguing stories

Cons: a couple things didn’t ring true

The twelfth book in James Patterson’s The Women’s Murder Club series, 12th Of Never, is a real hodgepodge. Some really good stuff, and some bad stuff.

First the good – all four women get their time. This is a good return to how these books used to be – where all Lindsay, Clair, Cindy, and Yuki all get to participate, rather than having some of them sit on the back burner. As far as stories go, there are so many of them, it’s hard to keep straight. Lindsay’s got two current investigations, as well as an old one that’s rearing its head again. Claire’s job as the medical examiner is in danger after a body goes missing. Yuki is prosecuting a “sure thing” that goes off the rails. And Cindy is having an identity crisis that ultimately affects her relationship status.

As far as the stories go, it’s hard to pick a favorite as they were all pretty good. There’s the murder of a football player’s girlfriend. But Lindsay can’t do a whole lot of solve the case, since this the body that “walked out” of Claire’s morgue. Then there’s a bizarre story of a man who dreams about murders that take place a few days later. Is the man clairvoyant or is something else far more sinister going on? Then there’s an old case of Lindsay’s that comes back to life after a killer wakes from a two year coma and wants to talk. And Yuki’s trial which starts out so clearly black and white but devolves into pools of gray right before her eyes. And, to add some drama, Cindy and Rich hit a snag in their relationship, and Lindsay’s baby is sick.

Phew! That’s a lot of action for a 400-page book! But Patterson (with Maxine Paetro) manages to bring it all together, even including one major twist that I never saw coming.  My interest was certainly held throughout.

But all is not perfect – there are some things that didn’t sit well with me. Like Lindsay going back to work so soon after having the baby, then not being able to do her job because she’s so distracted by thoughts of the baby. Then the baby gets sick (and I don’t just mean she has the sniffles) and Lindsay is manipulated into leaving the baby at the hospital and coming back to work. Nope, I just don’t really see that happening.

Also, Claire being so badly punished for something that was not her doing. I didn’t think that was fair or realistic. Seems to me there would have been an internal investigation before anyone decided everything was all her fault and she should take the blame. I could see if she were suspended, with pay, for a little while, until things were sorted out. But instead they punished her before having a clue what really happened.

Still, 12th Of Never held my interest and I’m looking forward to #13.

1st To Die
2nd Chance
3rd Degree
4th Of July
The 5th Horseman
The 6th Target
7th Heaven
The 8th Confession
The 9th Judgment
10th Anniversary
11th Hour
Unlucky 13
14th Deadly Sin

11th Hour – one good story, one not so good

11th Hour by James Patterson

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See it at Amazon 

(3/5)

Pros: one of the stories was good

Cons: the other, not so much

11th Hour is a decent addition to the numerical series by James Patterson and, in this case, Maxine Paetro. Decent, but not great.

As usual, we have The Women’s Murder Club, four women who work together to solve crimes in the San Francisco area. Leading the group is Lindsay, the detective. In this book, she’s married to Joe, and expecting their first child. Then there’s Cindy the reporter, Claire the medical examiner, and Yuki, the district attorney. As in many of the books, Lindsay gets most of the action. Cindy, this time, gets some decent play, and even gets to solve a key piece of the puzzle. But the others are basically on the back-burner.

In 11th Hour, there are two different investigations. The more interesting one focuses on “Revenge”. That’s the name the media has given to a serial killer who targets drug dealers. Despite the fact that some people would rather look the other way and let him continue cleaning the streets, Lindsay’s on the trail, and it leads directly back to her police station. Is a cop going rogue to take out the worst scum of the earth?

The second case involves some heads that are uncovered in the gardens of a famous actor. Just the heads. No bodies. With very little to go on, Lindsay must find a way to identify the bodies, in order to figure out how they got there.

I was intrigued by the “Revenge” case. The killer, in this case, is clever, determined, and clearly motivated by something very personal. At first we have no idea who he is. But, later, we get some chapters written from his point of view, and those were very interesting, and certainly held my interest.

The “heads” case just didn’t do it for me. Sure, I wanted to know who the victims were, and find out the real story. But when we finally get a witness who knows something, the story devolves into nonsense. Why? Because we get the most unlikeable witness I’ve ever read. Frankly, if ever anyone deserved to be tossed in jail for obstruction, this is it.

As far as the ladies’ personal lives go, the biggest focus in this book is on Lindsay and Joe’s marriage. It hits a bit of a hiccup, which was definitely interesting.

In general, I enjoy this series. It’s fun to read about the four women’s lives, and follow them as they work these cases. I just wish the focus could be spread a bit more evenly. And that the cases were always fascinating and thrilling. 11th Hour fails a bit, in both regards.

1st To Die
2nd Chance
3rd Degree
4th Of July
The 5th Horseman
The 6th Target
7th Heaven
The 8th Confession
The 9th Judgment
10th Anniversary
12th of Never
Unlucky 13
14th Deadly Sin

Mistress by James Patterson – a definite miss

Mistress by James Patterson

 

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See it at Amazon 

(1/5)

Pros: the story had a few interesting points

Cons: horrid main character telling the story

Wow.  Mistress is one odd book.  I know it’s supposedly written by James Patterson (and co-authored by David Ellis) but honestly it didn’t read anything like the Patterson I know.

Told in first person by “Ben” we hear the most bizarre tale, through the wacked out thoughts of a very odd person.  Whether Ben has a physical ailment, or a mental one, I’m not sure it’s ever clear. But Ben is definitely not “normal”.  And as we are privy to his every thought, we get to find out just how wacky he is.

He tells us his story which revolves around his girlfriend-of-sorts.  Not entirely sure exactly how close the two of them ever were.  In any case, he’s just finished doing an errand for her when splat! … She goes flying off her balcony onto the sidewalk below.  Was she pushed, or did she jump?  The authorities are quick to rule it a suicide, but Ben doesn’t believe it.  Thus he sets out on a one-man quest to find out the truth.

Unfortunately, the more he uncovers about this girl he thought he knew so well, the worse the storm gets.  Bodies start piling up, it becomes clear that Ben’s very life is in danger, and the story careens out of control – with China, Russia, the CIA and the President of the United States all having a role.

Bottom line – Ben’s in the middle something much bigger than he ever could have imagined.  And we readers get to live it all with him, by getting inside his wacked-out stream of consciousness as he tells us this story.

So – what’s the problem?

Well, Ben’s “different”, as I said.  And while I applaud a book that dares to have characters who are “different”, in this case, it just got tiresome.  Ben’s rambling thoughts, his never-ending tangents, his constantly telling us he really should have taken his meds today… It all gets on the nerves.  I would say I out and out hated this character.  Not enough to give up the book before finishing, but it was close.  I get that Ben has issues.  I don’t need to be slammed over the head with the evidence, on every single page.

All I can say is, the story held my interest enough to hang in there.  Was it worth it, in the end?  No, not really.  Honestly, the ‘big reveal’ at the end was a yawner. Sadly, Mistress is a total miss.

 

Also by James Patterson:

Four Blind Mice
Invisible
Judge & Jury
Kill Me If You Can

 

10th Anniversary by James Patterson – 10th time is not the charm

10th Anniversary by James Patterson

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See it at Amazon 

(2/5)

Pros: one story that was slightly interesting

Cons: two total dud stories

In general, I enjoy James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series.  Four women of different backgrounds come together to solve various crimes.  Lindsay is a detective, the main character, and the only one with a first-person voice.  Claire, Cindy, and Yuki are the medical examiner, reporter, and district attorney.  The women are best friends and help each other out as much as they can, to solve the cases.

It’s a formula I enjoy, however 10th Anniversary was a real disappointment.  I prefer the books where there are several plot lines and they all come together at some point.  Usually in unexpected, thrilling ways.  But in this book, there are three separate stories that never intersect.  And only one of the three stories was at all exciting.

Yuki is prosecuting a woman accused of killing her husband.  The woman swears she didn’t do it, and Lindsay, despite herself, believes the woman.  Of course Yuki can only see one side of the story – the story that gives her the win in the courtroom (because, of course, it’s really all about Yuki [insert eye-roll here])

A teenage girl is found wandering around, badly injured, having just delivered a baby.  She swears she doesn’t remember what happened.  Lindsay is frantic to find the baby.

Women around the city are waking up outside, near their homes, victims of sexual assault with no memory of how they got there.  Cindy is the reporter on this story and does a bit of investigating on her own to help solve it.

Claire does – well – pretty much nothing, in this book.

So there you have it.  Three stories, none of which are very exciting.  If I had to pick, I’d say Cindy’s story is the one that held my interest the most.  But, really, all three are duds.

The teenage girl’s story changes every five minutes.  If it weren’t for the fact that there’s a baby out there somewhere who might need help, I would write the girl off as a whack job, and let her parents deal with her.  Yuki’s story is annoying because she doesn’t care one single bit what the real story is, as long as she wins the case.  This has been a theme with Yuki over the past several books in the series and it’s a real weakness as far as I’m concerned.  And when the “real story” was finally revealed, all I could think was “why didn’t she just say so, in the first place”.  In other words, much ado was made about absolutely nothing.  Cindy’s story, with the women who are assaulted, was somewhat more interesting, and the only one that had any moment at all of actual excitement.

As far as personal lives go, Cindy and Yuki are enjoying some romances with men from Lindsay’s professional life.  Thus there’s a bit of drama there.  Lindsay is happy, finally married to Joe after much up and down throughout the past few books.  And Claire is status quo with her baby.

I will continue to read the Women’s Murder Club series, as there are gems in there.  But 10th Anniversary could definitely have been skipped.

1st To Die
2nd Chance
3rd Degree
4th Of July
The 5th Horseman
The 6th Target
7th Heaven
The 8th Confession
The 9th Judgment
11th Hour
12th of Never
Unlucky 13
14th Deadly Sin

The 9th Judgment by James Patterson – one of the worst of the series

The 9th Judgment by James Patterson

 

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See it at Amazon 

(1.5/5)

Pros: One of the stories was somewhat interesting

Cons: Pretty much everything else

Wow. In general, I like James Patterson.  In general, I like the Women’s Murder Club series.  But The 9th Judgment is pretty bad.

First of all, the entire concept of “the club” was supposed to be four strong women working together to solve crimes. Lindsay the detective, Cindy the reporter, Claire the medical examiner, and Yuki the district attorney.  But, lately, the books revolve around one or two women actually doing anything remotely related to crime-solving.  And the others just hang around for a scene or two.

Such is the case in The 9th Judgment.  Lindsay is busy working two different cases.  One is a cat burglar who successfully steals from the rich.  Normally nothing much happens except for the robbery, however in the last case, a woman is left dead.  The second case involves someone going around killing women and children in parking garages.

So Lindsay’s going nuts trying to solve these cases. Meanwhile, Yuki is simply doing her job and entering yet another new romance. Claire is doing her best to find clues in the autopsy process.  And Cindy is doing her reporting gig, and furthering her romance with Lindsay’s partner.

So, as you can see, these women have seemingly stopped being anything club-like.

Further, the two stories were both pretty awful. A cat burgler?  I’m just not that interested.  Especially since we’re given reasons for the robberies in an attempt to drum up sympathy for the perp.  However, the robberies went on far longer than necessary to achieve the goal, making me feel the perp is just selfish and getting a thrill from the danger, rather than attempting to solve a true crisis.

The other story was far more interesting, however, it is beyond gruesome. It’s one thing to read about murders in a thriller – evil is expected in this genre.  But killing the children alongside their mothers, that’s tough to take in.   And while Patterson (with co-author Maxine Paetro) tries to give us an explanation for the killing spree, it just didn’t ring true for me.

So, we have a decent series, but a pretty bad book.   For sure, don’t start with this book, if you’re just hopping into the series.  Frankly, even if you’re reading them in order, take this one for what it’s worth – not a lot.

1st To Die
2nd Chance
3rd Degree
4th Of July
The 5th Horseman
The 6th Target
7th Heaven
The 8th Confession
10th Anniversary
11th Hour
12th of Never
Unlucky 13
14th Deadly Sin

The 8th Confession – James Patterson – the “club” needs to come together a bit more

The 8th Confession by James Patterson

 

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See it at Amazon 

(4/5)

Pros: Some interesting twists

Cons: An out of left field romance complication

The Women’s Murder Club series, by James Patterson (with various co-authors) tends to be enjoyable. The original concept – four women working together to solve crimes – was a gem.  Lindsay, the police detective, is usually the main character, and it’s mostly her point of view we get.  Claire is the medical examiner, Cindy is a reporter, and Yuki is the district attorney.  Together, they are quite a crime-solving force.  However, in some of the books, like The 8th Confession, the ladies don’t really work together.  Each is off doing her thing; the characters barely interact.  To me, this construct doesn’t work quite as well.

In The 8th Confession, (co-author Maxine Paetro) we have a few separate stories.  Lindsay and her partner are working on a series of high-society murders.  The victims are found dead with not a single clue as to their cause of death: completely negative autopsies and tox screens.  Cindy happened to be on scene when the body of a homeless man is found.  She’s upset that the police don’t seem to really care.  For sure, they are far more concerned with Lindsay’s rich murder victims, than with the homicide of a homeless man.  But Cindy won’t just let it go.  And Yuki’s been on a losing streak lately.  Her latest case, a woman who attacked her parents, seems like a slam-dunk.  Until it goes haywire.

There you go. The ladies are all dealing with their own cases and their own lives. And then there’s the romance angle.  Lindsay’s having a bit of a romantic crisis.  Cindy is finally starting to have some fun, but there’s a bit of a complication.  And Yuki is also starting to have some fun, but there’s a HUGE complication.

In typical Patterson style, tiny chapters, sometimes only a page or two long, can sometimes be distracting. I don’t really get Patterson’s love of this style.  Why bother putting a chapter break right in the middle of a scene or conversation that continues on the very next page?  I don’t get it, but I do find it makes the book go faster – after all, there’s all that wasted white space at chapter ends.

As for the stories, they were pretty good. The high-society murders made use of a very unique murder weapon.  And while we know early on who the bad guy is, the motive isn’t made clear until much later.  So we get to wonder about that, while Lindsay catches up to us, trying to figure out who and how.

The murder of the homeless man, at first, didn’t really hold much interest for me. Until the very end when we get something very interesting going on.  Nope, I not going to tell you what it is – but it had me contemplating for a few minutes.

The romances were Ok, but the complication in Yuki’s came out of left field and felt completely tacked on for no reason other than shock value.

Still, The 8th Confession is a pretty good book, one that held my interest.  I love these characters, and enjoy catching up with their lives.  I just hope that Patterson lets them work together a bit more, going forward.

1st To Die
2nd Chance
3rd Degree
4th Of July
The 5th Horseman
The 6th Target
7th Heaven
The 9th Judgment
10th Anniversary
11th Hour
12th of Never
Unlucky 13
14th Deadly Sin