3rd Degree by James Patterson

December 16, 2009

3rd-degree Plot summary (with spoilers): One Sunday morning as Lt. Lindsay Boxer is jogging through an upscale San Francisco neighborhood, a house literally explodes in front of her eyes. She calls for help, then rushes in to see if there’s anyone inside who needs rescuing. She emerges with a young boy, but he’s the only survivor. There are three adult bodies inside, and a cursory search of the scene reveals that the victim was a big-time CEO of a tech company who has recently been under investigation for shady financial practices involving dumping the company stock before it plummeted. The discovery of a backpack and note near the scene confirms that the CEO was targeted because of his perceived greed. The note is cryptically signed “August Spies”.

As the SF police try to figure out who August Spies is, they get a second victim to work with. This time, the target was a top manager at a major insurance company, one that regularly denied the claims of poor customers, resulting in many deaths that might otherwise have been avoided. The man was given a massive dose of ricin, making for a particularly gruesome end. Once again, August Spies took credit.

As Lindsay pushes the investigation further, she calls in her pals to help. They are the other members of the Women’s Murder Club: Claire (the ME), Cindy (the reporter), and Jill (the ADA). Claire actually doesn’t contribute much to the case, and Jill is having trouble with an abusive husband at home. Cindy is able to do a bit of research, and leads Lindsay to a Berkeley professor who tells her that August Spies is a terrorist group that focuses on the rights of the oppressed.

From there, the investigation unfolds quickly. August Spies continues to target high-profile victims, with the apparent goal of getting the upcoming G8 meeting in San Francisco canceled. When Jill Bernhardt becomes one of the victims, the case turns completely personal for Lindsay and the girls.

With the help of Joe Molinari, the deputy director of Homeland Security, Lindsay eventually tracks down the ringleader of August Spies, a fanatic named Charles Danko. Lindsay confronts him at the G8 summit, where he was slated to give a speech, and turns his ricin spray against him just in the nick of time.


  • Well, I guess on the positive side, this was a very fast read. Each chapter was only about three pages long, so I was able to get through the whole book in just a few hours. We’re talking lots of white space here! At least I got it from the library and didn’t have to shell out my own cash for it.


  • Why did Jill have to be killed off? The whole reason I was attracted to this particular series was that I thought a women’s murder club sounded like an interesting idea. So much for that. Let me guess: in the next book the girls will mourn Jill’s absence, but then they’ll have a new member in their midst by the fifth installment. Am I right here?
  • This didn’t even feel like a women’s murder club book at all. It was more like the Lindsay Boxer show. I thought these books would have the girls working together, pooling their resources to get answers that they wouldn’t be able to get on their own. In this one, Jill obviously didn’t do anything, and Claire might as well not have been there either. Cindy’s involvement through the emails felt very contrived. It was all Lindsay, all the time.
  • Another romance with a man she’s supposed to be working with? Geez, that’s twice in the first three books, Linds. Can’t you keep your pants on?
  • August Spies’ motive was convoluted and difficult to understand. Well, actually, I can understand Danko’s involvement, but couldn’t figure out why everyone else was so willing to fall in line behind him. Maybe I should have been paying more attention while I was reading!
  • Did the title even have anything to do with the story? I don’t remember any suspects getting the “third degree” from the cops. Weird.

My Rating:

Perhaps I’m expecting too much of James Patterson. Or maybe his co-author Andrew Gross does more of the plotting and writing than anyone is willing to admit. I mean, what is this, a franchise? Like instead of buying into McDonald’s or Subway, you can buy into James Patterson’s name and publish your book? Whatever’s going on, the Women’s Murder Club series doesn’t seem like it’s going to live up to the promise of the first installment. I’m not quite giving up on the series yet because I know there’s a different co-writer later on, but seriously, these last two books have been lame. I give 3rd Degree 2 stars out of 5.

One Response to “3rd Degree by James Patterson”

  1. Third degree as in the club felt as if it was third degree when jill was killed. They took it personally meaning it was a big part of them. I dont see a problem with lindsey trying to find the right guy to live life with. Her partner chris was killed and now shes just trying to find the right guy. jill ovbiously wasnt doing anything as she living a life of hell being abused by her husband. the girls dont plan each others moves. the idea of the club is that they help each other and keep each other grounded. just because they dont solve each others murders doesnt mean its not a club. they help each other out, not work on the same job side by side.

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