From the start, Patterson's Women's Murder Club series (1st to Die; Second Chance) has felt like high-concept TV with a smart edge, featuring an appealing and reliable cast of four female crime busters (a cop, a prosecutor, a medical examiner, a reporter) who race along byzantine plot lines humming with blood and sex, romance and heartbreak. But Patterson is an author who will detonate readers' presumptions for the sake of story, and in the series' third installment, the prolific author, working with frequent collaborator Gross (The Jester, etc.), defies expectations in a shocking way. Readers will love him for it. San Francisco Homicide lieutenant Lindsay Boxer, who narrates most of the action, is jogging with assistant DA Jill Barnhardt when Lindsay notices two things: first, bruises on Jill's shoulder; then the explosion of a nearby townhouse, into which Lindsay rushes to save a child. With the juxtaposition of these two plotlines, Patterson jumpstarts this enjoyably convoluted tale. The townhouse, home to a greedy CEO and his family, was destroyed by members of a terrorist group calling itself "August Spies"; Lindsay's chase after the group, which commits further killings, brings her into close proximity to what promises to be a new series regular, Joe Molinari, deputy director of the Office of Homeland Security. Love blooms for Lindsay but, meanwhile, love has curdled at Jill's house, where Jill's husband is abusing her. Then comes the big surprise, and the story's remainder plays out at high emotion and warp speed. There's a calculated feel to all that happens, but clever manipulation of an audience serves Patterson as well as it served Hitchcock: his fans will only clamor for more. ~ Publishers Weekly, Amazon.com
It's funny that this review should mention that it has a TV feel... when I read Lindsay the only voice I hear is Angie Harmon. One could argue that this comes from falling in love with the TV show before starting the series, but I fell in love with Bones before reading Reichs and I can't say that about Emily Deschanel, though I love her in the role.
I am glad that Lindsay got a little romance back in her life; she certainly deserves it. I am also starting to see where many people fault Patterson in his portrayal of women. Like most men, he seems to see our emotional complexity as "going from zero to crazy" (as my husband would put it) in a matter of seconds, but he misses a few steps in our thought process and reasoning, as would most men who don't experience it. But let's give Patterson credit, at least he doesn't assume our behavior's irrational. There is one scene in particular where Lindsay goes after Jill's husband that stick out in particular as an example of this.
This one was a shocker. I never expected the story to go where it did, and I would be spoiling for those who haven't read it if I said much more than I am. Suffice it to say, I had to take a break from the series after reading this one to give myself ample time to digest it.
Monday, March 3, 2008