14th Deadly Sin (Women’s Murer Club #14), by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Four stars (of five)

The annual Women’s Murder Club (WMC) submission is here and does not disappoint! A number of cheque-cashing establishments have been held up and bodies are piling up, as the crew makes off with large sums of money. The perps are not identifiable, save for SFPD windbreakers, but this does not mean anything definitive. Could this be an inside job or is someone impersonating the police, adding a chill factor to an already problematic investigation? While at their weekly WMC gathering, Lindsay Boxer tries to make sense of these robberies with a homicidal streak, and is called away to the scene of a random crime; a woman is stabbed in a crosswalk with no forensics to tie anyone to the murder. Boxer confides in a close contact to help, when it is brought to her attention that there are a string of unsolved murders on the same date, every year. The Windbreaker investigation becomes more complex as a drug den is struck and millions in money and narcotics are taken. Should that not be enough, WMC member Yuki has left the DA’s office to pursue a job with the Defence League, helping those less fortunate against the city’s Goliath legal ways. A teen with questionable intelligence may have killed a number of drug dealers before he’s killed himself while behind bars. With seemingly loose threads blowing in the wind, the cases always fall together and force a monumental ending that impresses the attentive reader. Patterson and Paetro weave a wonderful tale together, sure to keep series fans breathing a sigh of relief, with a substantial cliffhanger to tide them over for another year.

Patterson’s writing does, as my past reviews show, ebb and flow, depending on the content. While WMC novels are normally well written, there have been some duds in the mix. Some might say that fourteen novels is well-past a series’ expiry date, but there is something that keeps them fresh, be it the sub-plots or the short time between novels, or even the ever-evolving development characters undergo. With short chapters and interesting storylines, readers will likely breeze through this and hope for more. Alas, a year is the usual wait time for instalments. That said, if Patterson and his flock of co-authors could work on a CROSS-BENNETT-BOXER trifecta, we’d be in business and bring some of his best characters together.

Kudos, Mr. Patterson and Madam Paetro for a great novel that keeps the reader hooked until the final sentence, which is an invitation to more questions.