Review

The 9th Judgment

by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

If you’re not reading the Women’s Murder
Club
series by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, then
you’re missing out. Is the latest installment high
literature? No. Is it a story well-told, well-constructed and, as a
whole, unforgettable? Absolutely.

I have said it before and often, and will say it again, because
it applies especially to THE 9th JUDGMENT. Whatever merits
Patterson’s heroes have --- and both heroes and merits abound
here --- you will want to read his books for the villains. The
Lipstick Killer is just that. Even though the inside front jacket
contains a spoiler or two, I still could not believe it
when the Killer did what he did, and continued to do throughout the
novel. We learn his identity early on; Peter Gordon (named, I
assume, as a nod to the 1960s British Invasion) is quietly
unhinged, a time bomb who has set himself to go off at regular
intervals.

San Francisco homicide detective Lindsay Boxer, the de
facto
head of the Women’s Murder Club, is assigned to
the case after the Killer’s initial murder. Boxer is left
with precious few clues; among them is a cryptic anagram scrawled
in lipstick at the scene of the crime. Another case is quickly
given priority, however. A cat burglar, who has been nicknamed
“Hello Kitty,” has been relieving San Francisco’s
wealthy of their jewelry during dinner parties. Kitty’s
latest break-in, however, results not only in an empty heist but
also a dead body. The victim, the wife of renowned actor Marcus
Dowling, caught Kitty in the act. What the readers know, though, is
that Dowling took advantage of the situation to murder his wife.
Boxer and her detective partner, Rich Conklin, suspect
Dowling’s involvement, but can’t prove anything
conclusively.

Meanwhile, the Lipstick Killer continues his reign of terror in
San Francisco for no apparent reason. But there is a method to his
madness, which is made all too clear before tale’s end and
puts Boxer in an extremely compromising position. However, it is
Dr. Claire Washburn, another member of the Women’s Murder
Club and the San Francisco medical examiner, who inadvertently
provides the means to bring Gordon’s killing spree to an end,
and not through the use of forensic medicine, either. And Hello
Kitty? That case is resolved as well, with a delicious and ironic
twist.

THE 9th JUDGMENT is everything that an outstanding mystery and
thriller should be, as it shocks, tantalizes and teases, right up
until the very end. And memorable? I don’t think I will ever
drive across the Golden Gate Bridge again without thinking of this
book or taking a good look at the drivers around me, and there are
bound to be some readers who will find themselves hesitating before
entering a parking garage. Blame Patterson and Paetro, who have
crafted yet another riveting work in a great series.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 22, 2010

The 9th Judgment
by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

  • Publication Date: April 26, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 0316036277
  • ISBN-13: 9780316036276