9th Judgment by James Patterson

May 29, 2010

Plot summary (with spoilers): In the latest adventure of the Women’s Murder Club, Sgt. Lindsay Boxer and her friends Cindy Thomas, Claire Washburn, and Yuki Castellano are back to try to put an end to two serial criminals in the San Francisco area. The first is a cat burglar nicknamed “Hello Kitty” because of her penchant for robbing millionaires’ homes even if other people are present. Hello Kitty has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars in jewels without so much as being seen — until the one night when she decides to rob the home of movie star Marcus Dowling. When Dowling’s wife turns up dead the next day, Hello Kitty is blamed.

The second case involves an unhinged Iraq war veteran named Pete Gordon who really despises women and children (including his own wife and kids) because of some of the things he saw in the desert. So he goes around the city executing mothers and children in various parking garages, leaving behind the letters “WCF” in lipstick at each crime scene. Nobody knows what that means until the Lipstick Killer himself literally spells it out for the cops: Women and Children First.

Along with the cases, which are solved in more or less the usual way, the authors spend a bit of time addressing the private lives of a few of the main characters. Lindsay and Joe are still engaged, and apparently trying for a baby. Cindy and Rich Conklin (Lindsay’s partner on the force) are moving in together. And Yuki, who finally won a court case, is dating the bartender at one of the Club’s usual haunts.

Liked:

  • This is a very quick, mostly entertaining read listen (I had the audiobook version from the public library), which is what I’ve come to expect from the series.
  • The Hello Kitty storyline was fairly interesting. I wouldn’t have minded if that had been the main focus of the book. I particularly liked that Sarah and Heidi were lovers. When they first met up in the cafeteria after Sarah’s night at the Dowlings’, I expected them to just chitchat about diet pills that work, hair products, or whatever else BFFs usually talk about. That they were planning a liaison was a definite surprise.
  • Lindsay wasn’t quite as annoying and whiny as she has been in the past few books of the series. Hopefully this improvement continues.
  • I liked that Pete Gordon (the Lipstick Killer) turned out to be Heidi’s husband. I didn’t see that twist coming.
  • It was interesting that both criminals got away. The Lipstick Killer managed to disappear into traffic, and Hello Kitty got placed in Witsec. Does this mean these people will pop up again in future books?

Disliked:

  • What was up with all the sex scenes in this book??? The Dowlings, Sarah (Hello Kitty) and her husband, Pete and Heidi, Sarah and Heidi, Rich and Cindy, Joe and Lindsay… wtf? So many interludes, so little time.
  • Sarah aka Hello Kitty just returns all the jewels without holding anything back, and then agrees to go into witness protection? Seems like a smarter move would have been to fence at least some of the stuff and leave the country, which was the original plan. It’s not as though the cops were any closer to unmasking her, and it’s not as though she completely erases her culpability in the crimes by returning the goods, so what was the point of that?
  • And what was the point of the plane crash fake-out involving Joe? Was that just so Lindsay would come to realize how much she loves him? If it takes something like that to convince her, then she has problems. That whole “epilogue” just seemed totally manufactured and unnecessary.
  • Wow, the Lipstick Killer storyline was pretty brutal. The authors didn’t really hold back, what with having Pete kill five children. Yikes. Also, I found it completely unbelievable that Pete would refer to these children that he hated as “kiddos”. That seemed way too tame. He would have called them brats or bastards or little shits… something other than “kiddos”.
  • Would the feds really have allowed Sarah to go into WitSec with Heidi and her kids? They don’t just let “friends” come along for the ride, do they? Heidi didn’t ‘fess up and say the women were lovers, so I don’t understand why the FBI let that happen.

Rating:

If you’re a regular reader of the Women’s Murder Club books, then you already know what to expect from 9th Judgment. You’ll get neither more nor less than the authors have churned out in past installments. The action clips along at a decent pace, the criminals du jour are slightly interesting, and Lindsay carries the show once again. I give this 3 stars out of 5.

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