Review

4th Of July

by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

I am
probably in the minority here, but I consider the Women's Murder
Club series to be the best of the numerous novel threads that James
Patterson currently has out there. The unofficial name of the
series is somewhat misleading, better suited perhaps to a cozy
subtitle than what Patterson and his co-writer du jour have
going on here. These novels take place in an exotic setting --- the
San Francisco Bay area --- and involve a threesome (their number
reduced by one in 3rd DEGREE) consisting of a journalist, forensic
physician, and SFPD Detective who find themselves involved on a
personal and professional level in a series of grisly
murders.


Formulaic? Only to a point. Patterson is too good, too experienced
a storyteller to pass off a color-by-number plot as a new work, and
in 4th OF JULY --- his latest Murder Club novel --- he, with
co-writer Maxine Paetro, once again retools the basic premise of
the series with advantage to the reader.


4th OF JULY focuses almost entirely on Detective Lindsay Boxer,
with physician Claire Washburn and reporter Cindy Thomas relegated
to secondary roles and off the page for most of this fine work.
Boxer initially is involved in the investigation of a series of
murders taking place in transient hotels located in San Francisco's
downtrodden Tenderloin district. One potential clue in the
investigation is the presence of a black Mercedes in the area of
the crime scene. When the car is spotted a week later, once again
cruising the Tenderloin, Boxer becomes involved in a pursuit that
ends badly for all concerned --- and with Boxer the defendant in a
wrongful death action.


Seeking to avoid the effects of strident pre-trial publicity that
has gripped San Francisco, Boxer retreats to her sister's home in
quiet Half Moon Bay south of the city. Boxer no sooner has her bags
unpacked, however, when she becomes embroiled in an investigation
concerning a number of improbable killings that are rocking the
quiet village as it never has before. What attracts Boxer's
attention is that there are similarities between these murders and
the first killing that she investigated as a homicide detective a
decade before --- a killing that remains unsolved. Boxer finds that
her intrusion into the investigation raises the irritation not only
of the local police force, but also the lethal attention of the
perpetrators, a shadowy trio who seem to be everywhere at once. 4th
OF JULY races along the double track of Boxer's trial and her de
facto
investigation of the Half Moon murders --- one of which
could ring an end to her career, the other of which could end her
life.


4th OF JULY is bookended by major surprises, so that from beginning
to end one really does not know what to expect from page to page.
Patterson and Paetro do an excellent job of describing San
Francisco in general and the Tenderloin district in particular; the
contrast between the seedy underbelly of the Tenderloin and the
laid-back, comfortably wealthy feel of Half Moon Bay is subtle,
stark and real. The extended courtroom passages dealing with
Boxer's trial also are surprisingly well done, given that neither
Patterson nor Paetro have any real world experience in the field.
As an added surprise, that fourth chair at the Women's Murder Club
table, recently vacated, will have a new occupant by the novel's
conclusion.


4th OF JULY unquestionably is the best book in this relatively new
series. This is the perfect time for newcomers to jump on board.
Recommended.


   











Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 22, 2010

4th Of July
by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446179663
  • ISBN-13: 9780446179669