The 5th Horseman
I think some phrases like "quick read", "fast-paced", etc., will be part of the review of every James Patterson book. And so's the case with The 5th Horseman, the 5th book in his Women's Murder Club series. This series, set in San Francisco, has 4 women from different jobs putting their heads together unofficially to solve crimes. While definitely not great art, the book does the job by keeping us turning the pages and surprising us with some nice twists along the way.
The Women's Murder Club becomes involved in two cases in this book. Lindsay, the cop, with the help of Claire, the Medical Examiner, tries to track down the murderer who is killing young women and then leaving them in fancy cars for the police to find. Meanwhile Cindy, the reporter, and Keiko, the lawyer and latest member of the Murder Club, become involved in a malpractice suit against San Francisco Municipal Hospital, where patients recovering in the ICU are being mysteriously killed.
Though both tracks start in parallel and the book keeps shifting between the two, one ends well before the other. That came as a bit of a surprise since the track that gets closure first seems to have more legs at the beginning. More disappointing is the fact that it ends in a rather straightforward manner with no trademark Patterson surprises. It is developed in a rather interesting manner with the killers having an intriguing MO but the end does not match the build up.
The other track packs more of a punch. It starts off slowly as it seems to play a secondary role. But it eventually picks up steam and contains a couple of really unexpected surprises towards the end. At the end we feel that this track was all the book was about and that the other track was added just to fill up the pages.
But the book is more like a regular police procedural rather than a book in the Women's Murder Club series. Lindsay investigates her cases in a regular manner and her meetings with the other 3, of which there are only a few, don't add much. The other members don't help her much either with Cindy simply attending the trial as a reporter and Keiko only bringing an emotional attachment. There is almost nothing 'unofficial' in their participation.