Monday 9 December 2019

Book ~ "The 19th Christmas" (2019) James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

From Goodreads ~ As the holidays approach, Detective Lindsay Boxer and her friends in the Women's Murder Club have much to celebrate. Crime is down. The medical examiner's office is quiet. Even the courts are showing some Christmas spirit. And the news cycle is so slow that journalist Cindy Thomas is on assignment to tell a story about the true meaning of the season for San Francisco.

Then a fearsome criminal known only as "Loman" seizes control of the headlines. He is planning a deadly surprise for Christmas morning. And he has commissioned dozens of criminal colleagues to take actions that will mask his plans. All that Lindsay and the SFPD can figure out is that Loman's greed - for riches, for bloodshed, for attention - is limitless.

Solving crimes never happens on schedule, but as this criminal mastermind unleashes credible threats by the hour, the month of December is upended for the Women's Murder Club. Avoiding tragedy is the only holiday miracle they seek.

This is the nineteenth in the Women's Murder Club series (I've read them all). Though it is part of a series, it does work as a stand alone.  There are four members of the Women's Murder Club ... cop Lindsay, reporter Cindy, medical examiner Claire and prosecutor Yuki.  I don't know why it's considered part of this series because (1) Claire was basically non-existent (she and her husband headed to a conference at the beginning of the book and arrived home in time for New Years Eve) and (2) the only time the four women got together was at the end to celebrate New Years Eve.  As usual, the focus is more on Lindsay.

The police department starts getting random tips and vague clues that something big is going to happen.  But they have no idea what so they are trying to cover all their bases which is stretching the department thin since it's happening over the Christmas holidays.  Unfortunately Lindsay and Richie didn't have the foresight to take their loved ones out of town so they are stuck working crazy hours, as is acting chief Brady (Yuki's husband) and former chief, Jacobi.

Cindy is approached by the wife of a Mexican man who has been in prison for two years for a random murder.  He and his family are in the country illegally.  As she investigates, Cindy feels the man is innocent and pulls Yuki in to help prove it.  It was a weird random subplot that seemed out of place other than trying to invoke some Christmas spirit?

I thought the writing was okay.  There was odd stuff, though, that made me wonder if perhaps the two authors had written different chapters and hadn't read each others.  Or the editor slacked off.  For example, Jacobi is brought into the story and we find out that he was the former chief before he retired.  Then a couple chapters later, the beginning of chapter 31 starts "Former chief Warren Jacobi drove".  Yep, I know ... I didn't forget who he is.  It's like they were introducing a new character but weren't.  This happened a couple times.

I liked the short choppy chapters.  The point of view shifted ... it was first person perspective when the focus was on Lindsay and third person perspective when the focus was on others such as Cindy, Yuki, etc.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

I found the ending and whodunnit really lame.  Throughout the book, "Loman" is portrayed as incredibly smart, vicious and manipulative and I thought he was actually a wimp in the end.  The end came very quickly and I went "Huh?  That was it?  All that build-up for that?"  To be honest, I'm still not sure what the caper was and how he expected to pull it off.

Everyone gets together for New Years Eve and are happy happy happy.  Then the next couple chapters focus on Joe and seem random and out of place.  I thought maybe it was the first couple chapters as a preview for the 20th book .... but no.  I'm assuming they are indeed setting us up for the 20th book but it was strange how they handled it.

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