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Book Discussion Guide: 2nd Chance by James Patterson: Reviews

Book reviews

From BookList

Patterson, who published no less than three novels last year, returns with his first entry for 2002. It is the second installment in his new series, the Women’s Murder Club, which focuses on four females – a police detective, a medical examiner, an assistant DA, and a reporter – who team up to solve grizzly murder cases. Lindsay Boxer, newly made lieutenant, is called to the scene of a shooting that leaves a 12-year-old African American girl dead. When her friend, reporter Cindy Thomas, connects the killing to another murder that appears racially motivated, Lindsay is convinced that the department has a hate crime on its hands. But the subsequent murder of two police officers reveals that the truth about the killer is much more complex than they first realized. Following the only lead they have – a symbol depicting a creature with two lion heads--takes them back to a decades-old crime that has a surprising connection to Lindsay. While she deals with this case and tries to recover from the death of her lover, Lindsay is also contending with the reappearance of her father, who abandoned the family when Lindsay was a child. As with Patterson’s best novels, the surprises keep coming until the final pages. This novel solidifies the new series and helps guarantee that readers will flock just as eagerly to the Women’s Murder Club books as they do to the Alex Cross novels.

From Publishers Weekly

It's been a long time since we've seen a bestselling author of Patterson's clout credit an assistant author on the cover, and good for Patterson for that. The credit is deserved. This is Patterson's richest, most engaging novel since When the Wind Blows and, as the second in his Women's Murder Club series (after 1st to Die), yet more evidence that this prolific writer can roam beyond Alex Cross with style and success. Like all Pattersons, the narration mixes first and third person – the first here is voiced, as before, by San Francisco homicide detective Lindsay Boxer, while the third-person sections cover the doings of the other three members of Boxer's informal club, a reporter, a pathologist and a prosecutor, as well as the villain's shenanigans. The basic story line is vintage Patterson, i.e., a serial killer (here, one known as Chimera) goes on a calculated rampage until stopped by the good guys – or in this case, gals. As the victims – a young girl shot dead, an elderly black woman hanged, two cops – pile up, it becomes clear to Boxer and others that they're up against a racist who hates black cops; is the killer a cop himself? The story ripples with twists and some remarkably strong scenes, particularly Boxer's in-prison interview with a crazed con. But what makes this Patterson stand out above all is the textured storytelling arising from its focus on Boxer's personal issues. In the first novel, Patterson personalized Boxer by dealing with her rare blood disease; here, it's the emotionally powerful introduction of Boxer's long-lost father into her life that galvanizes the plot, particularly as Patterson ties the man into Chimera's rampage.