Thursday, June 23, 2011

James Patterson's Women's Murder Club

1st to Die
Little Brown & Co.
ISBN 978-044661003

This is the first of a series of books, then a TV movie and short-lived (2007-2008) TV series about four women in different branches of law enforcement, who come together as an informal, unsanctioned task force to solve terrible crimes, in this case, the serial killing of attractive newlyweds on their wedding nights. The first of the women is SFPD Homicide Detective Inspector Lindsay Boxer. She is joined by her friends medical examiner Claire Washburn, reporter Cindy Thomas, and assistant DA Jill Berhhardt. All are tough and battled their way to the top with their spunk and determination. All are over 30 and attractive. Their initial meetings are fueled by Boxer's illness and  her need for help on this case.

I had never read any of Patterson's many books before since I prefer not to read crime fiction about serial killers. In this one, the serial killer element was not too disturbing - and - to say anymore would ruin some of the surprises. It also features an absolutely dreadful person who is a best-selling true thriller  novelist, which I  assume is a little tongue in cheek fun from Patterson. The novel was intricately plotted, very readable, the characters likable although a little thin and obvious, the dialogue OK if not sparkling, and I think I will definitely read more of this murder club series. I would call it a police procedural with some overtones of a legal thriller. It's a "jigsaw of a mystery" as Lord Peter famously described it and one does not get too wrapped up in the characters.

It has some other things going on - the illness, some romance and sex scenes that are pretty obviously written by a man (yes, catching a murderer and swimming in an ice cold lake as foreplay!) The romance, Boxer's with a fellow police detective, has doomed written all over it, since she keeps saying how he's a keeper and can see living the rest of her life with him. Bang! It is set in San Francisco but except for some mentions of SF neighborhoods like Russian Hill and startling views, it could have been anywhere.   This is not a book to read for the local color. # 2 is 2nd Chance (2003). I will definitely check it out.

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