If you’ve been reading the Women’s Murder Club series, you already are aware that authors James Patterson and Maxine Paetro jam enough action and plots into each volume to fill two books. UNLUCKY 13, the latest installment in the series, is slightly different; there is enough going on here to fill three novels, with maybe a bit left over.
The book begins with mixed blessings. Detective Lindsay Boxer is happy with her personal life, which includes her husband and infant daughter, but her professional life features a grisly murder case that has just been handed to her. A killer is sabotaging the main offering of a popular Bay Area hamburger chain. His first two victims are crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, happily eating their lunch, when the hamburgers they have just eaten explode. Chaos ensues, as one can well imagine. Boxer’s friend, Dr. Claire Washburn, San Francisco’s medical examiner, puts Boxer and partner Richie Conklin on the right track as to the cause of the explosion, while good old-fashioned police work traces the food back to the retail source. That is only part of the equation, however. Boxer needs to discover who is doing it and how. The killer begins making multiple demands for ransom, effectively holding the entire city --- or at least the portion that eats hamburgers --- hostage.
"UNLUCKY 13 moves the reader right along, with Patterson and Paetro keeping the proceedings engrossed and enthralled with situations that more often than are not ripped from real-world headlines."
Exploding burgers aren’t the only thing on Boxer’s plate. A very dangerous and deadly homicidal blast from her past, one that has been missing for a while, has suddenly resurfaced. Mackie Morales, presumed dead after escaping from police custody, now appears to be back to her bank robbing and homicidal ways. Reporter Cindy Thomas learns on the down-low from Boxer about Morales’s resurrection, but takes the story and runs with it, following Morales’s bloody trail as it moves slowly yet inexorably across the country. When it becomes clear that Morales is headed toward the West Coast, Thomas is convinced that she is coming to San Francisco to exact revenge on Boxer, little dreaming that she herself may be in Morales’s sights as well.
As for assistant D.A. Yuki Castellano, she has wonderful news for the Women’s Murder Club. She is getting married --- to Boxer’s boss, no less --- and after a courthouse ceremony that goes off without a hitch, the happy couple departs for a honeymoon consisting of an Alaskan cruise. However, the shipboard party gets crashed by some very evil people, and all that Boxer and the gang can do from San Francisco is watch the news helplessly as the cruise ship hijackers begin killing passengers one at a time until their demands are met. Think Die Hard on a boat.
There is more, of course, with everything ultimately being wrapped up with the trademark action, twists and turns that have made the Women’s Murder Club one of the most popular mystery and suspense series going, and for the best of reasons. UNLUCKY 13 moves the reader right along, with Patterson and Paetro keeping the proceedings engrossed and enthralled with situations that more often than are not ripped from real-world headlines. It will give fans and newcomers alike much to love.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 9, 2014