Saturday, April 05, 2008

7th Heaven

7th Heaven, as the name indicates, is the 7th book in the Women's Murder Club series by James Patterson. The club was an informal club formed by four women - Lindsay, a cop, Claire, a Medical Examiner, Jill, the Assistant District Attorney and Cindy, a reporter - to put their skills together to solve tough cases. The club lost Jill earlier but she has since been replaced by Yuki, the new ADA. The book is similar to other recent books by Patterson - a good fast read with a disappointing denouement.

7th Heaven sees the club involved in 2 cases. Lindsay, with her partner Rich Conklin, is investigating a series of fires in the houses of rich couples. While the victims seem to have a few common things, Lindsay is completely lost since the fires have destroyed all the evidence. Meanwhile, an unsolved case suddenly heats up when the police gets a tip that Richard Campion, a former Governor's son, whose whereabouts are unknown since his disappearance, was last seen entering a prostitute's house. Shockingly, the prostitute confesses that he died when he was having sex with her and that her boyfriend disposed off the body. Yuki gets the case but is shocked when the prostitute retracts her confession.

Unlike the last few books in the series, 7th Heaven sees 3 of the women in the Murder Club involved in the proceedings. While Lindsay as always is in the lead, Yuki is around since Campion's case occupies a large portion of the book and Claire gets some importance since she is at the scene of all murders and also because she is pregnant. Cindy is the only one who is rarely seen. That makes the book seem like a legitimate entry in the series rather than a standalone thriller(of which Patterson has a few too).

As is usually the case in Patterson's books, we get to see the arson case from two sides - the killers and Lindsay. Apart from Lindsay's usual first-person narrative, there are a few chapters narrated by the killers too. So we understand how crazy but meticulous they are and how difficult it is going to be for Lindsay to uncover their identities. The way Lindsay gets to them eventually is the most disappointing part of the book though, with the website she and her partner just stumble upon being an obvious deus ex machina. There is some unnecessary churn introduced in Lindsay's personal life too but it seems resolved, atleast for now. Campion's case has more twists and turns and holds the usual interest that court cases do, with the arguments and cross-questioning of the witnesses. This track holds a couple of good surprises towards the end and is definitely the more satisfying of the two.


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