Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Book Review: The 19th Christmas by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Women's Murder Club #19)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Strong main mystery
Cons: Weak sub-plot; little interaction for the women
The Bottom Line:
This Christmas entry
Features good main mystery
But still average

Can Lindsay Stop a Caper at Christmas?

It is becoming increasingly popular for the cozy mysteries I read to include a Christmas book.  As a Christmas lover, I don’t mind at all.  However, I was surprised to see that we were going to get a Christmas addition to James Patterson and Maxine Paetro’s Women’s Murder Club series this year since it doesn’t fit with some of the subject matter of the series.  The 19th Christmas is fast paced, but ultimately average.

San Francisco Homicide Detective Lindsay Boxer and her partner Rich Conklin are using their lunch hour for a little holiday shopping, and they happen to be on hand when someone tries to do a snatch and grab.  Rich is able to apprehend the criminal, and the criminal immediately wants to talk deals.  He’s heard rumors that someone named Loman is planning some kind of big heist on Christmas Day.  As the tips begin to pour in, the police are left chasing their tails as they try to figure out what Loman really plans.  Or who he even really is.

Meanwhile, reporter Cindy Thomas has landed the story of an illegal immigrant accused of a murder.  He’s been in jail awaiting trial for a long time.  Cindy gets assistant district attorney Yuki Castellano involved in her attempts to free him.  And medical examiner Claire Washburn?  She’s left town to teach a course during Christmas week to college students down in San Diego.

And that right there represents one of my issues with the book.  I know colleges offer classes during semester breaks.  But what college would offer one during Christmas week itself?  And Claire is going to leave her family (except her husband) during Christmas week to teach this class?  Sorry, I’m not buying it.

Instead, it feels like a convenient want to get her out of the book since the main story takes up most of the pages.  Cindy and Yuki’s sub-plot is a brief and undercooked part of the overall book that is there more to preach to us than entertain us.  The four women and their families only interact for one scene, in fact.

The main story is quite thrilling, and I got caught up in the action.  However, I feel like it hinged on the criminal doing something very stupid, and we never really figured out why he would do this.  My guess is it was to taunt the police, but criminals so rarely do this it feels like a plot devise.

I was surprised at just how much I got the Christmas spirit from the book.  I was reading it around Halloween, and I got so in the Christmas spirit that I had to pull out some Christmas music.  First time this year, too.

Then there’s the epilogue, which seems to come out of nowhere.  Are they setting up the next book?  That’s all I could think while reading it.

While The 19th Christmas has flaws, I got caught up in the book while reading it.  Fans of the series will enjoy checking in with Lindsay over a busy Christmas.

Here are the rest of the Women's Murder Club books.

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