5th Horseman by James Patterson

April 11, 2010

5th horseman Plot summary (with spoilers): In this fifth installment of the Women’s Murder Club, SFPD Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer and friends Claire Washburn, Cindy Thomas, and Yuki Castellano are ready to take on another serial killer in the city by the bay. This time, the killings take place at Municipal Hospital. Patients who go in for even the most routine procedures, such as a broken arm, end up dead. The official cause is always an overdose of the wrong medication, and the victims all end up with strange buttons on their eyes. When Yuki’s mother becomes one of the killer’s target, it turns personal for the Club.

The best suspect in the case is Dennis Garza, a smarmy, arrogant doctor who has been sued for malpractice at every hospital he’s ever worked at. Lindsay and Yuki have a bad feeling about the guy, but can’t trip him up. Fortunately, he’s involved as a defendant in a class-action suit against the hospital right now, so he can’t really hide from them.

Meanwhile, Lindsay has another serial on her hands. This one involves a team who apparently lure high-class call girls to their hotel room, suffocate the victim, and then dress her in very expensive designer dresses before leaving her posed in a car. The killers are very careful, so there are no real clues at the crime scenes, which has detectives spinning their wheels as the number of victims continues to grow.

As the book progresses, Lindsay and her buddies start to make some headway in both cases. But while she’s able to get to the bottom of the designer dress killers, she’s way off the mark with the Angel of Death at the hospital — thus leaving open the possibility of the killer’s return in a later novel.


  • Well, as usual, Patterson and coauthor Maxine Paetro deliver a fast-paced novel that is a very quick read. This isn’t a book that requires a lot of brain cells to process.
  • It was interesting that the hospital killer got away — especially since she had actually been questioned by Lindsay and Warren. That makes me think she’ll be back at a later time.
  • Lindsay’s relationship with Joe got some realistic treatment in this novel. It’s long-distance, they’re both busy professionals… there was no way they could possibly keep up the every weekend thing from previous novels.


  • I didn’t like the fact that there were two major cases in this novel. It felt as though the authors had two separate story ideas that couldn’t be fully developed on their own, so they decided to throw the plots together into one volume. Meh.
  • Again, I’m not sure why this has to be called the Women’s Murder Club when Lindsay is the only one who ever does any real work on the case. They all contributed in the first novel, which was cool. But since then, it’s been all Boxer.
  • Ugh, more courtroom “drama”? Really? These guys are not Grisham and just don’t do the courtroom scenes very well. God, I hope this isn’t going to be a recurring theme in the series.

I’ve lowered my expectations about this series significantly, so now the quality issue doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. Clearly the authors are just trying to cash in so they can pay their mortgage, home insurance, and other bills just like the rest of us, which is their right. The result is a book you’d find at a supermarket or airport. It’s meant to be a quick, light, entertaining read and nothing more. When viewed in that sense, the book becomes much more tolerable. I give it 3 stars out of 5.

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