Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Book Review: 2nd Chance by James Patterson and Andrew Gross

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong character; engaging story
Cons: Plot a tad formulaic; unbelievable climax
The Bottom Line:
Formula to plot
Climax is over the top
Yet it is so fun




I'm Glad I Gave These Ladies a Second Chance

If a friend hadn't loaned me this book, I probably never would have read it.  I wasn't that impressed with the first book in the series.  But there was the stack of Women's Murder Club books staring at me.  So I picked up 2nd Chance, and I'm glad I did.

For those unfamiliar with the series, they center around four women in San Francisco.  Lindsay Boxer is the lead character.  She's just been promoted to Lieutenant of the San Francisco Homicide Division.  But when a big case comes along that stumps her, she goes to her friends for help.  There's Claire Washburn, the medical examiner, Jill Bernhardt, the assistant DA, and Cindy Thomas, crime reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle.  In addition to being strong friends, these women act as sounding boards and help with the case in their own way.

It appears to start with a shooting at a black church.  After all the bullets fly, only one little girl is dead.  But newly promoted Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer picks up on a few clues that make her think it wasn't a random killing or even the hate crime everyone else is quick to label it.  She is even more suspicious when she finds a connection with a suspicious suicide in Oakland.  When a third killing takes place, the pressure is really on the department.  What is the connection?  Where will it all lead?

Everything about this book was stronger than the first.  While we already know who the characters are, they are more fleshed out here.  All but Claire are given their own sub-plots, which really helps with the development.  I especially enjoyed watching Lindsay deal with her father suddenly showing up in her life.  The first book had a touch of a women are better than men theme, but that was gone here.  These women get together because of their friendship and their desire to help solve a vicious string of murders.

Speaking of vicious, the killer has a few moments that are a tad twisted, but it isn't nearly as bad as it was in the first book.  That was a change I really appreciated.

The plot in this book starts on page one and keeps going until the climax.  I hate to say it on book two, but it does feel slightly formulaic already.  However, I didn't see the twists coming until they were upon us, so that is only a slight complaint.  My only true gripe was the climax, which finds Lindsay going off by herself to confront the killer.  There is no way a police officer would behave the way she did.  Of course, since I normally read cozies, which are the height of unrealism, I'm willing to let that pass as well.

The book is written in a combination of first and third person.  Most of the book is narrated by Lindsay with occasional breaks to give us a chapter from the point of view of one of the other women or even the killer.  These switches are never confusing.  The chapters are extremely short, averaging between three and four pages each.  It does make things go much faster with all that white space.

2nd Chance was so much better than the first one that it makes me look forward to seeing where the women go next.

Here are the Women's Murder Club Mysteries in order.

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