Review

2nd Chance

by James Patterson



"Potboiler" is a descriptive and occasionally derogatory term in
literary circles. It normally applies to books that don't begin
with the words "Call me Ishmael," books that are short on memorable
prose and long on explosions, karate, and/or heaving bosoms.
However, writing a potboiler isn't easy; things have to keep
moving, there has to be something happening every third page or
so.

2ND CHANCE is a potboiler. It's easy to read; James Patterson tends
to write in short sentences encapsulated in short chapters. Point
of view jumps around quite a bit, from person to person and even
from first person to third person. The villain is more interesting
than the good guys and, as is often the case in novels such as
these, has a Jason-like ability to keep coming back, despite
apparently having been dispatched. And as far as keeping things
moving along...well, if you can't finish 2ND CHANCE in a long
afternoon, you need to simplify your life. Yep, 2ND CHANCE is
potboiler. It is, by amazing coincidence, the second in a projected
series of books by Patterson featuring the Women's Murder Club,
created in 1ST TO DIE. The Women's Murder Club, consisting of Lt.
Lindsay Boxer of the San Francisco Police Department, reporter
Cindy Thomas, assistant D. A. Jill Bernhardt, and medical examiner
Claire Washburn, is an informal group that solves the grisly crimes
to which San Francisco has lent itself since its creation. The
action tends to revolve around Boxer; Boxer handles most of the
first person narration, with some occasional third party
omnipresent chapters thrown in just to keep things cooking.

If you read 1ST TO DIE and didn't care for it, take a look at 2ND
CHANCE. It is a much better book. Patterson (ably assisted by
Andrew Gross) handles the pacing much better this time around. The
plot is better, the ending(s) even a bit more plausible. The case
this time concerns a series of random murders, which initially
appear to be "hate crimes" but which instead have a far more
sinister link to them. Boxer, newly minted as a Homicide lieutenant
is under intense pressure to solve the murders at once before the
community explodes. The common thread running through the murders,
however, is spun out of an event in the distant past, and Boxer
gradually discovers that the murders have a connection to elements
of her own past --- elements that she thought she had put out of
her mind. The investigation progresses as the members of the
Women's Murder Club bring their respective talents and aptitudes to
bear on the task of identifying the murderer. When the murderer is
ultimately identified, however, matters do not end there. There is,
as one principal announces toward the conclusion of 2ND CHANCE,
"One more surprise."

Although it is probably a little too early to tell, Patterson is
doing a gradual, unhurried job of fleshing out each of his
protagonists. This is one series that will not be static; there
will be events, good and bad, which will effect the lives of each
of the members of the Club. The result is that one never really is
sure of what is going to happen from page to page. I would not put
it past Patterson to even change the membership of the Club --- by
trauma or otherwise --- as time goes on.

Patterson, with an unnamed collaborator, is reportedly at work on
the third book in this series. Given the quality of 2ND CHANCE,
there is half a chance that the Women's Murder Club series may
surpass Patterson's Alex Cross novels in popularity. There is
certainly room on the bookshelves, however, for both.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

2nd Chance
by James Patterson

  • Publication Date: February 1, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vision
  • ISBN-10: 0446612790
  • ISBN-13: 9780446612791