Right off the bat, I'll agree with the legions of reviewers who say they hate cliffhanger endings. I don't like the ploy when it's used in season finales of TV series, and I don't like it even more in books, for two reasons: First, it's likely to be at least a year - sometimes two or three - before the next one is published. At that point, I have trouble remembering who the main characters are, much less what happened at the end of the previous book. Second, unlike books, people normally don't have to ante up more cash when a TV series begins a new season. I expect every book I read to have a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Period.
Another thing that bothered me a bit in this one is that if you're going to have four main characters (the members of the so-called Women's Murder Club and the premise for the series), each of the members should get a decent chance to shine. No, not necessarily equally - the main focus is on Lindsay Boxer of the San Francisco Police Department - but here, 'Frisco Medical Examiner Claire is next to nonexistent. The others, for the record, are Yuki, an attorney in the District Attorney's office, and Cindy, a hot-shot crime reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle - all of whom get significant roles.
As the story unfolds, Yuki - weary of her role as a prosecuting attorney - suddenly bails in favor of the Defense League, going over to the "dark side" to assist the downtrodden. Her first case, in fact, is a lawsuit against the city at which she was employed because a young mentally challenged man was murdered while in jail. He was wrongly incarcerated, Yuki argues, because his confession was coerced by SFPD officers.
Meanwhile, Lindsay's hubby Joe, a former police officer, has lost his consulting job and taken on the role of house-husband and stay-at-home dad. At Lindsay's request, he begins to investigate the possibility that murders that in recent years have happened on Cindy's birthday - at a time the Women's Murder Club gets together for lunch, in fact - are somehow connected (perhaps even done by same person). Lindsay can't do the sleuthing herself because she's busy trying to catch a gang of bad guys who wear pig masks and SFPD windbreakers, committing theft and murder willy nilly throughout the city. Are they impersonating cops, or could a handful of bad apples be lurking in the department?
Needless to say, there's a lot going on, and on the plus side, two of the three stories do see resolution (of course, I won't reveal which one doesn't - the one that creates the cliffhanger I dislike so much). There's plenty of action, though, and as is customary in Patterson's books, the very short chapters make it easy to stop and start at a beginning or an ending (didn't I tell you that's important to me)?
Also of interest to me - but probably no one else who will read this review - is the brief mention of character Dr. Germaniuk to the story. Those of us who live in Trumbull County, Ohio, know the real Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, the county's long-time medical examiner and coroner. In fact, he's served as a consultant to Patterson for years - in most books, you'll find his name in the acknowledgements section.
14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Little, Brown and Co., May 2015); 384 pp.