Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Review: The 9th Judgment by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Women's Murder Club #9)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Captivating plots that keep the reader engaged
Cons: Little Yuki; nature of murders; epilogue
The Bottom Line:
Finally, good stories
Strongest in several books
Lindsay takes the stage

9th Judgment Restores My Faith in the Women's Murder Club Series

I almost gave up on the Women's Murder Club series after the 8th book.  I was just too disappointed in the poor plotting of the book.  But I went ahead and put myself on my libraries waiting list for The 9th Judgment, the newest in the series.  This book works at returning the series to its former glory, and I enjoyed it as a result.

The city of San Francisco has been plagued by a cat burglar.  Reporter Cindy Thomas has dubbed him or her Hello Kitty.  This burglar enters homes of the rich while they are having dinner parties downstairs and robs the safe upstairs.  The night the book opens, Hello Kitty hits the home of actor Marcus Dowling and his wife, and he uses the opportunity to murder his wife.

That same night, across town, a new serial killer is starting a terrifying crime spree.  He's murdered a mother and her toddler in cold blood in a parking garage.  The only clue is the letters written in lipstick "WCF."  Homicide Inspector Lindsay Boxer will have her hands full with these two different cases.  Can she solve them both?

Now if you are worried about spoilers, don't be.  My only potential spoiler so far was revealed in the first 20 pages of the book.  Really, we spend enough time with the criminals to know who all perpetrators are before we are 50 pages into the story.  The suspense becomes how our main characters will catch them before they strike again.  And there is plenty of suspense to keep you moving quickly through the book to reach the conclusion.

I will admit some of the crimes were a little brutal for me.  You need to have a tolerance for young children getting killed to even think about picking this book up.  If that is going to bother you, don't even think about it.

The series started out about four women pooling their resources and brain power to catch killers, but the focus has always been on Lindsay Boxer.  She's definitely the star here, and most of the book is told from her first person point of view.  I think even the villains get more third person chapters than the other women do in this book.  Reporter Cindy is right in the thick of things for a while, as is coroner Claire.  Only poor Yuki seems to be short shafted here, although given her treatment in the previous book, that's actually a blessing for her.

The book has dealt with the romantic lives of the women in the past.  I'm actually glad to say that is toned down a little as well.  The romantic sub-plots were getting pretty ludicrous in the last one.  Here, they were kept in the background, and none of them made me uncomfortable or furious with any of the characters.

Most of the characters are familiar to fans of the series.  I think there is enough here that none fans would follow who they all are.  The character development is pretty much in line with the rest of the series, we get just enough to keep the characters from feeling cardboard, but just barely.  The plot is king here.  The exception is the villains.  I felt they got pretty well developed.

Then there's the epilogue.  It's probably my biggest gripe with the book.  It wasn't needed.  It sets up something so horrific (that doesn't make any sense as presented) only to bring us to a professional cliffhanger for Lindsay.  The book would have been much stronger without it.

Despite my complaints, The 9th Judgment will remind series fans why they liked earlier books in the series.  I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what the 10th in the series will have in store for these women.

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

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