2nd Chance by James Patterson
Pros:The main plot, and the subplots all kept me captivated.
Cons: Just a minor one – the whole “jurisdiction” thing.
2nd Chance is the second book in James Patterson’s The Women’s Murder Club series. For those unfamiliar with the series, it revolves around four women who pool their resources to solve murders in San Francisco. Lindsey is the Lieutenant in charge of homicide for the police force. Claire is the medical examiner. Jill is the district attorney, and Cindy is a reporter. When grisly crime sprees hit the area, and no one seems to be able to solve them, the four women put their heads together. Most of the books are written as collaborations; in this case Patterson has teamed with Andrew Gross.
The murder spree in this book is particularly troublesome. It starts out with what looks like a random hate crime aimed at a church yard full of children. But there’s only one fatality, an 11 year old girl. While everyone’s looking one direction, Lindsey’s convinced that this was a targeted kill. But who would want to take out a little girl? When another murder is investigated, that at first appears to be a separate incident, Claire’s investigation reveals a possible link. Soon more bodies are added to the list, but the true connection among the victims eludes the investigators for a very long time. It takes all four women collaborating before they can piece the puzzle together.
In fact, that’s one aspect I really liked about this book. As opposed to others, where Lindsey does 95% of the work and the other three women just sort of hang around supporting her, in this case they all contributed to the solution.
I also liked that Cindy’s character was “toned down” a bit, from the previous book in which she was shown as extremely “pushy”. Here, she was shown as kind, helpful, and even a little bit vulnerable as she starts a romance with the local minister.
There’s a tender subplot involving Jill’s pregnancy, and a very major subplot involving Lindsey’s father – a man she hasn’t seen for her entire adult life. These subplots were very interesting, and helped develop these characters, so that you feel you “know” them.
As far as the murderer goes, he’s an interesting one, I’ll tell you that much. Occasionally we get to listen to his point of view as he goes about his business, always planning the next victim’s demise. But we never know who he is, so there’s plenty of mystery for us to work out, along with the women. His motives are made perfectly clear, so that at least we can understand why he’s doing what he’s doing. Not that we like him one single bit. He’s as evil as they come. But at least there’s an explanation given for his actions.
The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the theme of “us versus them” when it comes to who “owns” the case, and who’s in charge. Does the local police department get to call the case “theirs” or does the FBI ultimately take control? I, for one, don’t really care. I don’t need to read all about jurisdiction policies. I just want to read about the murders, and watch the women work to solve them.
Other than this one minor complaint, I thought this was a terrific book. It does a great job representing a series that is a real pleasure to read.