4 stars (out of 5)
Having just come off of reading a couple of heavy-duty mind-bending thrillers, I was close to excited about starting this one by the prolific Patterson and co-writer Maxine Paetro (she's perhaps my favorite of the ones he's been working with - especially of late when for the most part he seems to be sacrificing quality to get quantity). The books in his Women's Murder Club series are almost guaranteed to be heavy on the easy and breezy and light on the queasy - and that's just what I needed right about now.
If that weren't enough, it's very neat that one of the consultants Patterson uses for the books is Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, medical examiner and coroner of Trumbull County, Ohio - the county in which I've made my home since 1962. You'll have to go to the credits to find his name, but I'm happy to see some positive light shining right here in my neck of the woods.
For those who might not know, the Women's Murder Club consists of Lindsay Boxer (a San Francisco police detective), Claire Washburn (a medical examiner), Yuki Castellano (a district attorney) and Cindy Thomas (a newspaper reporter). Each brings a different personality and different skills to the table, and when they gather around it, things can get very interesting (and murders can get solved). I've read most if not all the others - starting with 1st to Die - and enjoyed each and every one.
In between, I also enjoyed the relatively short-lived TV series starring the beautiful and talented Angie Harmon as Lindsay. And when I started this book I was surprised to learn that Lindsay is a blond - a fact I'd apparently missed through all those books. In fact, I thought Angie was a natural for the role. How on earth did I miss that?
This one begins with the earlier than expected birth of Julie, the daughter of Lindsay and her husband Joe. The baby is having some health issues, but a couple of new cases mean Lindsay has to return to work and leave the baby in Joe's capable hands. Yuki, meanwhile, is prosecuting one of the biggest cases of her career - a man who allegedly murdered his wife and daughter and has hired a killer attorney - and Claire is having problems of her own keeping tabs on a murder victim who's landed in her morgue. Cindy doesn't get a home free card either; the relationship with her police officer fiance isn't exactly smooth sailing, and things go from bad to worse after a beautiful intern joins the department.
As is always the case, everything (well, almost everything) works out by the end - and the "almost" parts leave the door open for the next book, of course. All in all, it's a fun ride that won't try your brainpower or your attention span (I could have finished it easily in half a day or less if I'd had that much available time).
I do want to add something else, though, that troubles me considerably - the promotional tagline I assume comes from the publisher: "Lindsay Boxer must choose: stop a vicious murderer or save her baby?" I can't explain my objections without revealing too much about the story, so suffice it to say that while yes, there's a serious issue with the baby, the tagline is misleading at best and at worst a bit offensive to all the working mothers out there.
12th of Never by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro; Little, Brown and Co. (April 2013); 432 pp.