Written by James Patterson with Maxine Paetro — Ninth in the Women’s Murder Club series, this book is a real page turner with short punchy chapters which sustain a tense narrative through to the end. Although the novel is part of a series it works well standalone if you have not read the previous books, and I hadn’t. You do miss out on some of the back story and characterisation, but the suspense and drama is more than enough to make up for this and will keep you engaged with the text, in this very accessible novel.
The cover’ strap line – Women and children will be the first to die – sets the tone for this tale of misogyny set in San Francisco. When a young mother and her infant child are executed in a shopping mall parking lot, this is the first double homicide in what becomes a killing spree by the Lipstick Killer. The same night an A-list actor’s wife who disturbs a cat burglar ends up dead on her bedroom floor and millions of dollars worth of jewelry is gone. These crimes turn out to have more in common than the date when they take place. The perpetrators of each crime have connections to one woman and the Sun of Ceylon diamond, which some say is cursed. As the mystery unravels and the tension increases detective Lindsay Boxer is forced to put her own life on the line.
Boxer is joined by crime reporter Cindy Thomas, medical examiner Claire Washburn and DA Yuki Castellano. Together they bring justice to the city of San Francisco in this action packed thriller. The story is full of strong female characters, including the cat burglar however despite this, in one way or another, they are still victims of male sexual violence. The story does seem like a commentary on male dominance of women, though I am not sure exactly what Patterson was trying to say on the subject. Perhaps it was an attempt to engage in a feminist critique but it didn’t work for me. That said unlike Thelma and Louise these women triumph over the male perpetrators without having to drive off a literal or metaphorical cliff.
A strange ending to the novel provides the hook for the 10th novel in the series and it includes a sneak preview of the first two chapters of 10th Anniversary which is on sale now. The book makes a great read for those who like their crime novels to be big on nail-biting suspense, adrenalin soaked action and that makes an easy yet enjoyable read. Right now it’s selling at a really good price in paperback.
CFL Rating: 4 stars