1ST TO DIE -
The first story in this collection is 1st to Die, which introduces Lindsay Boxer and the Women's Murder Club. Lindsay is a San Francisco homicide
detective on a case involving a couple killed on the evening of their wedding. Lindsay is partnered with a man from the mayor's office, Chris Raleigh, and on the same day discovers
that she has an unusual, potentially fatal blood disorder.
Lindsay's directs her energy toward the investigation as well as her health, and as she investigates the first murder and another two 'bride and groom' killings, she finds herself drawn into a group of other women for support - Cindy Thomas, a reporter; Claire Washburn, a medical examiner; and Jill Bernhardt, an assistant DA.
1st to Die seems to draw to a conclusion fairly early, but several twists make the story move in new directions. The interactions between Lindsay and Chris Raleigh
are well-written, as are Lindsay's moments of emotion as she battles her disease
and tries to get to the bottom of the murders; offsetting those are some rather cringe-worthy moments when the girls seem to have to say "I love you"
to each other, as well as having to be vastly successful and feisty, as well as in touch with their femininity. Those who like to read more about the murder scenes might find this story a disappointment; it seems to be more about Lindsay and her feelings than detective work.
The 'baddie' also seems rather comic-book bad, and his behavior at the very end of the story
is implausible. Still, I enjoyed the story and this new series of characters.
The narrator does a good job overall, but sometimes her voice became so quiet that it was difficult to hear over road noise when driving and listening, which is probably how many people will hear this story. In order to hear the quiet sections, the volume had to be raised more than I would like for the louder sections.
Regardless, this is an excellent audio book and whiled away a long journey very effectively!
2ND CHANCE –
The second story in the series occurs a couple of months after the shocking conclusion to the previous book. Lindsay Boxer, newly promoted to Lieutenant, finds herself investigating some race hate crimes. She discovers fairly quickly that the crimes are being committed by a person who is part of a specific white group with an identifying tattoo, but it proves difficult to pin down exactly who he is. When he starts toying with Lindsay and the police department, including killing someone close to her and attacking her friends, the stakes are even higher.
Some additional side-plots fill out this story, including the return of Lindsay's father into her life, some significant events in Jill Bernhardt's life, and a romance for Cindy Thomas. As in the previous book, the Women's Murder Club seems an unnecessary plot device where Lindsay talks over the case with her friends.
The writing style here feels clunky at times. I lost count of the times Patterson uses phrases like "My heart was exploding in my chest" or some other overblown description for Lindsay's excitement or fear. Although the action keeps going, some of the events
are difficult to swallow. I wasn't as gripped by this story as by the previous one in the series.
The reader of 2nd Chance had a less enjoyable voice than the reader of the previous one with a rather harsh delivery at times. Chapters where the narrator is the murderer
are read by a male reader, and unfortunately the volume on these chapters is notably quieter, so that the
playback volume has to be increased to hear him properly, then reduced again for the female narrator.
3RD DEGREE –
"Familiarity breeds contempt."
I was struck by the truth of this saying when listening to the third of the Women's Murder Club audio books.
Although the murder plot is completely different from those in the previous two books, Patterson's writing style in this series is really beginning to grate. Once again I was struck by how unrealistic the conversation between the different women is - I mean, I can't think that I've ever gushed that
"I love" various female friends while drinking at a bar. Perhaps American women do this, but I'm not sure. Anyway, Patterson's
prose gets terribly repetitive in terms of his description of peoples' emotions: "Lindsay's eyes bulged out" (we had several people with bulging eyes in this story - what the heck is it supposed to mean?). Every event that happens is followed by a description of Lindsay's heart beating faster,
the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end, her stomach churning, the aforementioned bulging eyes... it just feels like lazy writing.
It's not all lazy writing - in fact, Patterson makes a surprisingly bold plot move in this story.
Still, the weaknesses of the previous stories in terms of plot come into play here, too.
How is it that Lindsay magically finds the vital piece of information, that her hunches are pretty much always correct, that she is able to put things together that no-one else can?
At one completely farcical point in this story, Lindsay decides to go back to the house that was a murder scene, looks through a cupboard, finds a set of newspaper clippings, reads one thirty-year-old clipping and realizes it's the key to the case. I mean, how likely is that?
In some ways this story is reminiscent of the previous one in that long-ago events affect what's happening today. There's also another romance for Lindsay with rather a big cheese (who seems a bit too good to be true). The murder plot is never easy to predict
- partly because of the random coincidences that fall into Lindsay's lap - and it's a fairly easy story to listen.
Too bad it feels much like 'murder story by numbers,' and the completely unrealistic characterization of the women
is so badly jarring so badly that I found myself sighing in annoyance on many occasions. The final chapter
is toe-curlingly cheesy to this British reader's sensibilities; the over-the-top romance side was laughable.
There is some good plotting in here, along with some lazy plotting; there are
some exciting scenes, along with some dull ones; there are some interesting
characters, unfortunately vastly outweighed by the cardboard ones. Overall, this story feels repetitive, unengaging and badly written. I can't see any great reason to follow this series any further.