2nd Chance by James Patterson

August 20, 2009

2nd-chance Plot summary (with spoilers): The Women’s Murder Club is back in action, with newly-promoted Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer leading the way. There’s another serial killer on the loose in San Francisco. This time, instead of targeting newlyweds like in the previous installment, the killer is targeting people who are related in some way to cops. This detail, along with the fact that the killer is a highly skilled sharpshooter, help Lt. Boxer and her friends — medical examiner Claire Washburn, reporter Cindy Thomas, and state prosecutor Jill Bernhardt — close in on his identity.

The plot unravels in the usual way, with homicide investigators finding very few clues at the first murder scene, getting an inkling at the second scene that a serial is involved, and finally working up a profile and probable suspect after that.

Patterson and contributor Andrew Gross work in several subplots that serve more to detract from the main action than anything else. We see Lindsay deal with her long-absent father, who suddenly shows up with a hidden agenda; we witness Jill go through a miscarriage; and we are on hand for Cindy’s blossoming relationship with a preacher-type named Aaron Winslow.

There’s only one real surprise twist in the plot, otherwise, it’s just a straightforward procedural.

My Reaction: Having loved 1st to Die, the first book in the Women’s Murder Club series, I couldn’t wait to start in on 2nd Chance. Unfortunately, this book didn’t have nearly the same page-turning appeal as the first one, and, were it not for such short chapters and big print, would have taken me forever to get through because there was hardly anything in the story to propel the action forward.

The useless subplots did nothing more than pad the page count in this one, and if you remove all those digressions, you’re left with a very thin story indeed. There was no suspense, no mystery, no sleuthing… in short none of the elements that made the first book such a success.

Overall, I was thoroughly disappointed by 2nd Chance. I’m not about to give up on the series (3rd Degree is already on my Kindle), but I really hope Patterson returns to the formula that worked so well in 1st to Die. I give this book 2 stars out of 5.

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