And now, something a little different from James Patterson...
As if the man wasn't busy enough, bestowing the Alex Cross books upon his faithful readership every year or so, Patterson, with 1ST TO DIE, develops a new series featuring recurring characters in a whole different city. 1ST TO DIE introduces us to the Women's Murder Club, based in San Francisco. The Club --- whose members consist of a police inspector, an assistant D. A., a reporter, and a medical examiner --- are brought together by a murder investigation and stay together as the result of friendship. But this is not a feel good chickbook, a 9 mm WAITING TO EXHALE. No, no, no. Patterson treads the fine line here and there but ultimately 1ST TO DIE will keep even the most critical reader happy.
Patterson is quite adept at creating interesting villains and he does some of his best work in 1ST TO DIE. The story begins with the murder of a bride and groom on their wedding night. Soon, another newlywed couple is killed in the vineyards of Napa Valley, and yet a third couple is murdered at their wedding reception at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. The evidence, painstakingly assembled with dogged determination by the Women's Murder Club, points to a world-famous author who has achieved his success by writing complex stories of murder and extraordinary violence --- whose unpublished first novel reads like an instruction manual for the newlywed murders. Bear in mind, however, that this is a James Patterson. The conclusion to this novel contains more hooks that an Alabama bait and tackle shop. Be forewarned. Not that it will do you any good, anyway.
1ST TO DIE has been made into a television miniseries, produced, interestingly enough, by Patterson, and will be broadcast in May 2001. And there are more novels projected in the Women's Murder Club series. There is some indication that their titles will follow their numerical order --- something like 2ND TO LEAVE, 3RD TO FALL, etc., though this is not necessarily a given. There is also some rumbling that Patterson's involvement in subsequent books will be limited to editing, in the manner of some of the series of Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler. Regardless, 1ST TO DIE is a gripping introduction to a unique, if unofficial, group of investigators. It will be interesting, as well as worthwhile, to see where their future investigations take them.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on February 1, 2002