19th Christmas (Women’s Murder Club #19), by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Eight stars

The Women’s Murder Club is back with another thrilling tale set in the days around the holiday season, headed by the great collaboration of James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. While out shopping with her family, Detective Lindsay Boxer encounters a man who is disrupting holiday shoppers as he flees in a panic. Once in an interrogation room, the man spills that he has news of an upcoming ‘big event’ that is set to happen on Christmas Day. Not wanting to take any chances, Lindsay takes up the case, looking for a mysterious ‘Loman’ who might hold all the answers. While following leads, Boxer and her SFPD Homicide team are pushed in many directions, some red herrings, while others seem to point to a major heist only a few days away. Meanwhile, while working on a Christmas story, Cindy uncovers an undocumented man who has been sitting in prison for two years, charged with a murder he says he did not commit. Working her angle, Cindy soon pulls Yuki in from the D.A.’s office and tries to bring a little holiday cheer to a family that has been frazzled for the past few years. When Boxer and her crew feel they may be close to an answer, all things go haywire at the airport, on Christmas Day no less, forcing everyone to take drastic actions in order to save the general public. Well into this series, Patterson and Paetro still have a great handle on the series that does not show signs of letting up. Recommended for series fans looking to augment their holiday season, as well as those readers who enjoy the quick pace of a well-written Patterson novel.

This book is a true gift and will likely be one that series fans have been hoping to receive. While there seems to have been some confusion with readers who were baffled throughout the eighteenth instalment, Patterson and Paetro were forced—silly, as it is—to explain the flashback they used in the past novel and promised that this instalment was entirely present-tense. The returning characters proved highly entertaining, not least of which Lindsay Boxer. She has left her character development and backstory behind, but is ready to tackle anything set before her as she hunts down a man keen on causing trouble at Christmas. Others characters will be familiar to many who are well-versed in the series, as well as adding a few new faces. The story ran well and sped along with quick chapters that push the reader to ‘try a few more pages’. At a time when no one can be sure what Patterson will do with the books bearing his name, this was a refreshing return to his strong skills, alongside the equally capable Maxine Paetro. A great stocking stuffer, if the reader can wait that long. If not, pull out the apple cider or eggnog and offer up a cup as the reader devours this treat!

Kudos, Mr. Patterson and Madam Paetro, for another great book in the series. I hope you two have the collaborative stamina to keep going.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons