Today’s book review of a crime novel is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
2nd Chance by James Patterson and Andrew Gross
Synopsis (Amazon): The second novel in James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series. When a little girl is shot on the steps of a San Francisco church, Detective Lindsay Boxer reconvenes the Women’s Murder Club. Working with reporter Cindy Thomas, assistant DA Jill Bernhardt, and medical examiner Claire Washburn, Lindsay tracks a mystifying killer who quickly turns his pursuers into victims. The unorthodox allegiances of the Women’s Murder Club lead them to suspect the unexpected – the killer may be an ex-cop. But nothing prepares them for the demented logic behind his choice of victims.
This novel is available via http://www.amazon.co.uk/2nd-Chance-Womens-Murder-Club-ebook/dp/product-description/B0053YQ9TY and http://www.amazon.com/2nd-Chance-Womens-Murder-Club-ebook/dp/product-description/B0053YQ9TY.
Review (of the audiobook)
Based in the San Francisco / Oakland area of the US, the story starts in third-person viewpoint about the apparent senseless shooting of an 11-year-old choirgirl then switches to first-person from Lindsay Boxer who’s set to investigate the murder. It’s soon clear (as I suspected) that the girl’s murder, and a subsequent hanging, weren’t an accident / suicide. The murders escalate and it becomes even more personal to Lindsay. Helped by her friends, including a journalist and pathologist, she tracks down, and clears, suspects until she gets the proof she needs.
‘Gasped their arms tightly,’, ‘screamed at the top of his voice’, ‘Rev Winslow began to cry himself’, ‘something that totally shocked me’, ‘his hiding place was totally protected’, ‘a totally improbable angle’, ‘nodded his head’ and many more… you get the idea.
Clichés included ‘Jill’s blue eyes twinkled’ (as do Lindsay’s father’s later in the novel’), ‘off the deep end’, ‘hung like a dead weight’.
Melissa is the narrator and all the characters other than the villain (who is Jeremy) and while many do work, Melissa narrating the men especially didn’t gel with me and it would have been much better – in my opinion – for Melissa to have been the narrator and the female characters and Jeremy to have been all the male characters. It’s not that I didn’t like Melissa but her occasional overdramatisation sometimes grated, and at one point I would have stopped had I not been enjoying the plot, so having a different voice more often would have been a break.
One inconsistency was that at one point it was said that Lindsay’s father had been gone ten years and another time twenty years, and there was reference to a bottle of wine he’d bought the year she was born and another time the year after she was born.
Most annoying was the coincidence of so many people (including the police chief, and one of Lindsay’s friends) were black with no hint up to that reveal that they were and it proved useful to the plot.
Also too obvious – because I guessed it before we found out – was the ‘big’ reveal after her visit to a prison gang member. I won’t say what as it is a big plot spoiler.
In any story, the most important aspects are the plot and to have a main character we like. This novel succeeded in both so gets a four out of five rather than a three (despite all the picks).
Rating: 4 out of 5
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
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If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.