Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Book Review: 4th of July by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Women's Murder Club #4)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Fast moving; twisty plots
Cons: Weak climax; hardly any Cindy and Claire
The Bottom Line:
Focused on Lindsay
I missed other characters
Disconnected plots

Lindsay is Mostly on Her Own

4th of July is a departure from the first three books in the Women's Murder Club series by James Patterson.  While those books revolved around Lindsay Boxer, the head of homicide in San Francisco, the other female main characters were still a strong presence.  In this book, however, Lindsay is pretty much on her own for the course of the book.  While I applaud that attempt to break the mold, the book wasn't what it could have been.

San Francisco appears to be facing a new serial killer.  But when a big clue comes in, Lindsay goes on a high speed chase that ends with one suspect dead and the other paralyzed.  And yet Lindsay is the one facing a lawsuit for police brutality over the events.

On leave from the force, Lindsay attempts to escape the media circus by getting away to Half Moon Bay.  But this small community is being rocked by its own string of murders.  Murders that bear a striking resemblance to a 10 year old cold case that has haunted Lindsay.  Even though she has no jurisdiction, she begins to nose around.  Can she help find the killer and win the lawsuit?

Yep, that's right.  We've got two plot lines.  I kept waiting for them to come together, but they never did.  I can't help but wonder if these were both ideas that Patterson had, but he couldn't come up with enough to flesh either out to full length books.  Anyway, in the early stages of the book, the two plots do weave in and out of each other.  But in the second half, both stories get their own share of the spotlight.  I was invested in both stories and surprised by a twist or two along the way.  However, I found the ultimate climax very weak.

I think my biggest disappointed with the book was the missing characters.  Cindy, news reporter, is reduced to a cameo, and Claire, medical examiner, only fairs a little better.  Heck, Lindsay's dog, Sweet Martha, gets more page time (and more plot points) than either of these ladies.  A new member of the club, Yuki, is introduced here.  I do like her, although I hope she gets better developed next go around.

But character has never been the strength of this series.  Instead, it is all about plot.  It was only on reflecting on the book when I finished it that I realized how weak it really was.  While I was reading it, I wasn't able to put it down.

As with the others, this book relies on short chapters and lots of dialogue, which helps make it a fast read.  Most of the chapters are about three pages each.  I would get frustrated when one scene was spread out over four or five chapters, but that never stopped me from plowing ahead.

While there are some dark subjects dealt with in this book, I still consider 4th of July a light read.  It's enjoyable at the time but not likely to stick with you when you finish it.

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

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