Little, Brown & Company | 2019
Opening Hook: Where’s Waldo the War Criminal?
Main Character: Lindsay’s gonna Lindsay.
Plot Twisty-ness: Typical predictable Patterson.
Let’s get this straight, Patterson and I broke up a long time ago. But just like every toxic relationship cycle, sometimes I go back to him.
Specifically, I go back when a new Women’s Murder Club instalment is released. I’ve been reading this series since the first book was published in 2001. I was fifteen, and at that time, I thought Patterson was the epitome of great crime fiction. It took me into my 20s, with exposure to crime fiction that was legitimately good, to realize that Patterson isn’t a very good writer, he’s just prolific. And I, like a lot of people, confused “popular” with being talented.
That’s not to say people don’t genuinely enjoy his work. Obviously they do, but objectively it’s pretty bad.
Now, I don’t care if you’re the biggest Patterson fan around, I’m not interested in a debate. Go read his work and write glowing reviews for him to your heart’s content. It affects me zero percent. But my opinion is that he’s a terrible writer. TERRIBLE. But remember, it’s only one opinion. I am not the final say in the matter. So don’t fucking @ me about it.
Every year I make a resolution to not read any Patterson, and every year I break that resolution at least once. This is my one for 2019.
But let’s face it, when it comes to a quick book to help you achieve a yearly reading goal, Patterson makes it so easy it almost feels like cheating.
I’m 33 at the time of writing this, so that’s 18 years of my life that I’ve been with Lindsay Boxer and the WMC gang. I keep reading this series because I have a really hard time not knowing what’s going to happen next in a novel or a series. It doesn’t matter if the book isn’t good or the writing is exceptionally juvenile. That little neurosis of mine is why I rarely DNF a book. I just have to know.
I wish I could say this eighteenth book in the series moved the needle on character development or interesting life events, but actually, this book was borderline pointless. The characters felt stagnant and typical, and Yuki and Cindy are hardly in it at all. It seems we’re getting further away from the original purpose of this series with every new book: strong women working together to solve crimes.
One of the two mysteries in this book is completely led by a solo Joe, who is probably the most cardboard character in the series. Honestly, he bores me to tears and his marriage with Lindsay is so perfectly lovely that it makes me want to vomit…but I guess that’s basically what this review is.
Lindsay is looking for three missing teachers, while Joe is trying to protect a witness who brings a supposedly dead Bosnian war criminal to the attention of the FBI. Both plot threads converge after lacklustre twists and predictable challenges. The novel follows the same path as all other novels in this series. The whole thing is so formulaic and routine that if you’ve read a couple of books before, you can figure out the story just from the jacket blurb.
Patterson and Paetro need bigger, more original ideas to inject some freshness into this stale series. Maybe that’s what the goal was in having this book take place five years in the past, but it just didn’t work for me. Putting the plot in the past left no room for character progression or new life events because there’s no way to follow up on them.
And honestly, how can you be writing flashback instalments in an 18-year-old series? It breaks the canon because these things have literally never come up before. If you are going to attempt it, it shouldn’t interfere with what is already established. In this case, from what I can tell, this story messed with personal storylines that occurred in the 9th and 10th books, including Conklin and Cindy getting engaged, Joe and Lindsay getting married and Jacobi becoming Chief.
If I have to keep this shit straight, so should the authors. And if they can’t, maybe it’s time to call time of death on a series that’s gotten too big to keep track of.
As always, the writing is annoyingly juvenile and the interactions between characters lack a human quality that felt stilted and awkward. The “I said/he said/she said” was so excessively interjected into the dialogue that it caused me to develop an eye twitch. There are so many ways to introduce or end dialogue. And most of the time, when it’s just two characters talking, you don’t need to add anything at all. Just that one minor change would allow the scene to unfold more naturally and soothe my twitching eye.
But really, I know I did this to myself.
Ultimately, this an instalment in the series that can be completely skipped and have no bearing at all on the reader. And when it comes to a series, is that really something you want to be able to say about one of the books? Probably not.
Phoned in. Breaking canon. Basically pointless. With average to sub-par writing. Definitely not the epitome of crime fiction.
Detective Lindsay Boxer and her partner fight to protect the streets of San Francisco from an international war criminal in the latest Women’s Murder Club thriller
When three female schoolteachers go missing in San Francisco, Detective Lindsay Boxer must unravel the mystery of their disappearance. But what starts as a missing person case quickly escalates to a troubling murder investigation.
As pressure at work mounts, Lindsay must rely on her husband Joe to support her at home. Yet Joe is pursuing a mysterious case himself, as a woman running from her past brings him terrifying information – the notorious war criminal from her Eastern European home country has appeared on the streets of San Francisco.
As Lindsay searches for the three missing women, a frightening new twist forces her and Joe’s investigations to collide. His mystery informant has gone missing, and all four abducted women are in grave danger. As shocking revelations emerge, Lindsay and Joe find themselves caught up in an international crime operation unlike anything they’ve seen before.
With the help of her fierce and courageous friends in the Women’s Murder Club, Lindsay and Joe fight to save their city from the corrupt clutches of a monster.