In "4th of July", the fourth installment of Patterson's Women's Murder Club, SFPD homicide detective Lindsay Boxer finds herself on trial for her professional life. A pull-over after a wild car chase goes entirely sour and results in Lindsay killing a female minor and seriously wounding a male minor condemning him to life as a wheelchair-confined machine-assisted quadriplegic. Boxer finds herself staring down the barrel of a lawsuit for "wrongful death, excessive use of force, and professional misconduct" filed by the parents with a potential price tag of $100 million in damages. While Boxer's attorney, Yuki Castellano, the newest initiate to the Women's Murder Club, is outwardly poised and confident that she can clear her client, the trial's outcome is far from certain and Patterson has treated us to some truly electric courtroom drama!
Plot number two - on administrative leave to deal with the trial, Boxer has sought seclusion in the quaint town of Half Moon Bay. But the peaceful quiet of her chosen cloister is shattered as the town's residents are menaced by a series of brutal murders. Boxer twigs to an uncanny resemblance to an unsolved John Doe murder from very early in the rookie stages of her career and she reaches the decision to involve herself in the investigation. From that point, Patterson takes Boxer, the local police force, Half Moon Bay's local population and his unsuspecting readers careening down a taut, tension-filled road that's chock-a-block full of twists and turns and slams us all into a climax that nobody but nobody will see coming.
While the two plots are very loosely connected only through the literary device of Boxer's administrative leave, they are cleverly juxtaposed and the two stories become nicely crafted into a seamless whole. Story #2 is a typically well-done thriller that easily succeeds in fulfilling any expectations Patterson fans will have as a result of his long list of past best-sellers but I think Story #1 is the more interesting of the two. Not your typical thriller brain candy, Patterson raises some serious hot-button issues related to minors and violent crime that won't leave a single reader sitting on the sidelines. As I read, there was more than one occasion on which my own opinions on the issues surfaced and I found myself getting quite warm under the collar. Well done, Patterson!
While I look forward to the next two Women's Murder Club novels, "The 5th Horseman" and "The 6th Target", it is my critical hope that Patterson will return to the original style of "1st to Die" and let the entire club figure more prominently in the novels and the solution to their plots. "4th of July" was clearly a Lindsay Boxer novel with the other members of her "club" being granted no more than token cameo walk-ons. Think of Baldacci's writing a "Camel Club" novel in which Oliver Stone battles the bad guys all by himself and ignores Caleb, Milton and Reuben! Well, it just isn't the same thing, is it?
That said, "4th of July" worked well and comes recommended from this reader. Enjoy!
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About the reviewer
Paul Weiss (cpw1952)
A modern day dilettante with widely varied eclectic interests. A dabbler in muchbut grandmaster of none - wilderness camping in all four seasons, hiking, canoeing, world travel,philately, … more
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