1st to Die begins under sad circumstances. Readers are introduced to Lindsay Boxer as she stands on her balcony, holding her SFPD service revolver to her head. She curses God for her current situation. Lindsay looks back on the events of the past weeks and begins her story.
Boxer is the only female homicide inspector in the San Francisco Police Department. She finds herself working twice as hard as her male colleagues to only to attain half of the respect.
Phillip Campbell is a twisted killer. He's just murdered a prominent young couple in their honeymoon suite. After committing the crime, he vanishes without being noticed.
Cindy Thomas is an up and coming Chronicle newspaper reporter. Circumstances have all the other Metro reporters away from their desks. This is her big chance to land a huge story. She hurries over to the scene of the "Honeymoon Murders."
Lindsay is assigned the homicide. Phillip Campbell stands among the crowd gathered outside the hotel. Cindy sneaks in and gets her first big scoop.
Just as the first bodies cool, there is another set of honeymoon murders. Lindsay and her partner Chris Raleigh are no closer to the killer. Lindsay strikes up an unintentional friendship with Cindy. The detective introduces the reporter to her best friend, Claire Washington, the medical examiner. The women hit it off right away and form an off-the-record group called the "Women's Murder Club." When assistant D.A., Jill Bernhardt is added, the four women go to work to find a vicious monster.
1st to Die is mostly told through Lindsay Boxer's perspective. On top of this crime, she also must deal with a potentially fatal disease. She pours herself into the honeymoon murders cases as a form of therapy. She must also fight her feelings for her partner, Chris Raleigh while keeping her medical condition secret.
While their respective agencies make little progress on the case, the four women form close bonds of friendship. Though the meetings are often conducted over margaritas, the business of catching a killer is still conducted.
Readers watch as the Women's Murder Club gathers the clues and gets closer to the killer. We know he's Phillip Campbell, but there are more secrets in store.
In true Patterson form, 1st to Die is full of surprises through the very end. Any true fan knows one mustn't peek at the last page of the book or risk spoiling the suspense. Such is the case with this work as well.
Based on the shot publicity reviews, it's very easy to assume that the Women's Murder Club is like some bad superwoman series you'd find on cable. In truth, Patterson has done an excellent job developing these four female characters. He gives them brains and humor. What a relief to read of women engaging in heartfelt, intelligent dialogue rather than discussing that "not-so-fresh-feeling." I had no idea Patterson could write like a girl. Nice job.
Since this is a story of murder, there are some gory scenes. Phillip Campbell is one twisted dude and Patterson includes some graphic detail of the crimes.
Granted, there are some hokey points, but nothing too silly. Some may feel the events are a bit calculated, but those folks will have to admit that there is a great deal of surprise packed within the pages as well.
I didn't care 100% for the ending, but you can't win them all. It was a perfectly legitimate conclusion, just not the one I wanted. Such is life, I guess.
James Patterson is a busy man. Installments of his Alex Cross series sell and sell again. He got in touch with his sensitive side in Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas. Now he starts a brand new series with 1st to Die and I couldn't be happier. Kinsey Millhone fills my need for quirky investigator. Most other female leads are just plain dumb and clueless. Hopefully, the Women's Murder Club will continue to provide entertaining mysteries for years to come.
Do I recommend 1st to Die? You bet your library card I do. It's quite a suspenseful read. I worried that Patterson wouldn't be able to crank out all these new novels so quickly, but so far he's doing fine. The Women's Murder Club is a welcome addition to Patterson's cast of characters. I look forward to reading more about these ladies in future novels.