The Barnes & Noble Review
James Patterson, bestselling author of the Alex Cross novels Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls, and Pop Goes the Weasel, offers the first of a new series dubbed The Women’s Murder Club, featuring a four-woman team that occasionally works outside the system. None of the gritty darkness or frenzied action is lost in 1st to Die, although the female protagonists offer an even deeper emotional context to this suspense thriller.
Inspector Lindsay Boxer of the San Francisco Police Department suddenly finds herself in the middle of two horrifying situations: The first is that she’s just learned she has an often-fatal blood disease. The second is a double homicide case she’s now heading up that involves the murder of newlyweds on their wedding night. Burdened with Chris Raleigh, a new partner reassigned from the mayor’s office, Lindsay finds that she has too much to deal with and turns to her best friend, Claire, the head ME on the case. Claire offers helpful advice and human, friendly contact amid a job filled with violence, cruelty, and fear.
Soon a fledgling newspaper reporter, Cindy, makes contact with Lindsay looking for a career-making story. Although Lindsay can’t officially comment on the case, the two women form a rapport, and Cindy joins Lindsay and Claire for their weekly meeting. When a second pair of newlyweds is murdered, and later a third, the investigation leads to a prominent crime writer, Nicholas Jenks, who has a history of spousal abuse and a predilection for kinky, dangerous sex games. With the help of an understanding assistant D.A., Jill Bernhardt, Lindsay tries to make a case against Jenks, who even had an affair with one of the slain women. Eventually Jill joins the “Murder Club,” and the four ladies share private interdepartmental information in an effort to track and stop the killer before he strikes again.
The major subplot -- Lindsay's facing up to her illness even while she learns to fall in love again -- carefully compensates for the novel’s coarse scenes of brutality. Lindsay Boxer isn’t merely an obsessed cop trailing a maniac; she’s also a terrified woman confronting the onslaught of disease. The story lines balance out to show us the true mettle of someone who puts the safety of others before her own.
Again, Patterson’s skill for producing furiously paced fiction are evident as the novel breezes by rapidly. The short chapters keep the narrative leaping with increasingly taut plot elements, but there’s an emotional commitment that makes our protagonist even more amiable and involving. 1st to Die is a novel that works as an intense series of character portraits that will leave the reader touched and delighted.
Tom Piccirilli is the author of eight novels, including Hexes and Shards, and his Felicity Grove mystery series, consisting of The Dead Past and Sorrow's Crown. He has sold more than 100 stories to the anthologies Future Crimes, Bad News, The Conspiracy Files, and Best of the American West II. An omnibus collection of 40 stories titled Deep into That Darkness Peering is also available. Tom divides his time between New York City and Estes Park, Colorado.
Randy Michael Signor
James Patterson has started a new series, featuring four women who form the Women's Murder Club. Think of it as a book club for amateur dectectives, except that these women aren't exactly amateurs. The main character, San Francisco homicide detective Lindsay Boxer, forms the group out of frustration with the male-dominated investigation of a series of murders of newlyweds. While the city's officials spin their wheels, the Women's Murder Club works to solve the case. Patterson lumps together a bunch of twists at the end.1st to Die is a good, fast-paced read.
...delivers a sharp punch...
Providence Sunday Journal
...a great book...a gripper, right from the opening pages...a great thriller and a terrific read...
...the part that just plain enjoys a good, fast-paced read said, 'Forget it, who cares, this is fun.'
...polished, briskly written entertainment that's more complicated than it at first seems...
...clever kickoff to a new series...Patterson...isn't afraid to reach as a writer...
...[Patterson] ably displays the storytelling talent that is the source of his popularity...
Austin American Statesman
...Patterson has shown skill at developing characters and crafting ingenious tales. I'm betting this series will only get better..
Lindsay Boxer is an inspector on the San Francisco Homicide Squad. Her healthy, optimistic outlook is given a jolt when she is diagnosed with aplastic anemia, which is potentially fatal. While dealing with her first treatments, she takes on a new case. Someone has killed a bride and groom during the first hours of their honeymoon. The killer strikes again in Napa Valley and a third time in Cleveland. Lindsay gathers her girlfriends, all of whom work in related areas of the justice system, to circumvent the bureaucracy of police business and solve the crimes. There are a number of loose ends that never get tied up, and a number of actions that don't seem to fit the characters' persona. The unabridged version of the story moves along well but seems contrived and somewhat sloppy, though well read by Suzanne Toren. Lack of detail in the abridgment, which is well read in alternate chapters by Melissa Leo and Dylan Baker, does not significantly hamper the telling of the tale; the loose ends and inconsistent characters are less apparent and bothersome. Recommended for large, well-funded collections. Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Coll. of Continuing Education Lib., Providence Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"A clever plot with enough last-minute revelations to keep you guessing."
"One of the most creative and sadistic killers since Hannibal Lecter ... There are surprises in store right up to the last page."
From the Publisher
"Patterson again proves himself a master of the craft ... Such a great book: every time you think you've got it all figured out, you realize the killer is still a step ahead."Providence Sunday Journal"
A clever plot with enough last-minute revelations to keep you guessing."Entertainment Weekly"
Polished, briskly written entertainment ... delivers the spine-tingly goods."Sunday Oregonian"
One of the most creative and sadistic killers since Hannibal Lecter ... There are surprises in store right up to the last page."BookPage
Read an Excerpt
Beautiful long-stemmed red roses filled the hotel suite the perfect gifts, really. Everything was perfect.
There might be a luckier man somewhere on the planet, David Brandt thought as he wrapped his arms around Melanie, his new bride. Somewhere in Yemen, maybe some Allah-praising farmer with a second goat. But certainly not in all of San Francisco.
The couple looked out from the living room of the Grand Hyatt's Mandarin Suite. They could see the lights of Berkeley off in the distance, Alcatraz, the graceful outline of the lit-up Golden Gate Bridge.
"It's incredible." Melanie beamed. "I wouldn't change a single thing about today."
"Me either," he whispered. "Well, maybe I wouldn't have invited my parents." They both laughed.
Only moments before, they had bid farewell to the last of the three hundred guests in the hotel's ballroom. The wedding was finally over. The toasts, the dancing, the schmoozing, the photographed kisses over the cake. Now it was just the two of them. They were twenty-nine years old and had the rest of their lives ahead of them.
David reached for a pair of filled champagne glasses he had set on a lacquered table. "A toast," he declared, "to the second-luckiest man alive."
"The second?" she said, and smiled in pretended shock. "Who's the first?"
They looped arms and took a long, luxurious sip from the crystal glasses. "This farmer with two goats. I'll tell you later.
"I have something for you," David suddenly remembered. He had already given her the perfect five-carat diamond on her finger, which he knew she wore only to please his folks. He went to his tuxedo jacket, which was draped over a high-backed chair, and returned with a jewelry box from Bulgari.
"No, David," Melanie protested. "You're my gift."
"Open it anyway," he said to her. "This you'll like."
She lifted the top. Inside a suede pouch was a set of earrings, large silver rings around a pair of whimsical moons made from diamonds.
"They're how I think of you," he said.
Melanie held the moons against the lobes of her ears. They were perfect, and so was she.
"It's you who pulls my tides," David murmured.
They kissed, and he unfastened the zipper of her dress, letting the neckline fall just below her shoulders. He kissed her neck. Then the tops of her breasts.
There was a knock on the door of the suite.
"Champagne," called a voice from outside.
For a moment, David thought of just yelling, "Leave it there!" All evening, he had longed to peel away the dress from his wife's soft white shoulders.
"Oh, go get it," Melanie whispered, dangling the earrings in front of his eyes. "I'll put these on."
She wiggled out of his grasp, backing toward the Mandarin's master bathroom, a smile in her liquid brown eyes. God, he loved those eyes.
As he went to the door, David was thinking he wouldn't trade places with anybody in the world.
Not even for a second goat....