James Patterson,
4th of July
(Time Warner, 2005)

If you are familiar with James Patterson's novels, you are probably familiar with the Women's Murder Club series. Set in the San Francisco Bay area, the group is led by Police Lt. Lindsay Boxer. Other members of the club include reporter Cindy Thomas and medical examiner Claire Washburn. These three have been in three other Patterson novels: 1st to Die, 2nd Chance and 3rd Degree.

If you have caught on to the theme of the book titles, you won't be surprised to know the fourth installment is called 4th of July. Since Patterson releases several novels each year, he oftentimes partners with a second author. In this case, he writes with Maxine Paetro, a novelist and journalist based in New York.

Opting for the audiobook version of 4th of July, I was pleased that Carolyn McCormick, who narrated 3rd Degree, was back on board. Carolyn, who has appeared in the movies Enemy Mine and A Simple Twist of Fate as well as the television show Law & Order, is Lindsay Boxer. As soon as I heard her voice, I was back in familiar territory. Like I said in my review of 3rd Degree, some of Carolyn's minor character voices sound a little too similar. Fortunately, her main characters are distinct.

4th of July is almost two stories in one. The first centers around Lindsay's career. During a stakeout of suspected murderers, a car chase ensues. When the suspects crash their vehicle, Lindsay and her partner are duped into dropping their guard and end up getting shot. Lindsay returns fire, killing one suspect and paralyzing the other from the neck down. If these suspects had been adults, Lindsay's career probably wouldn't be on the line. Considering the dead suspect is a 15-year-old girl and the paralyzed one is her 13-year-old brother, Lindsay is sued by their grieving parents and is presumed guilty by both the media and public at large.

To escape the pressures of the looming trial, Lindsay escapes to her sister's home in Half Moon Bay. Here is where the second story begins. A series of murders brings back a haunting memory of one of Lindsay's first murder cases, which is still unsolved. The M.O. is the same. Could the same killer be on the loose in Half Moon Bay? That is what Lindsay works to find out as she awaits the outcome of the trial in the city.

The title of the book comes from the date when the stories come to a climax. I won't spoil the outcome, but I will say I enjoyed the trial more than the Half Moon Bay murders. If you have enjoyed the other books in the Women's Murder Club series, I see no reason why you would not enjoy this one as well. If you are not familiar with this series but enjoy Patterson's other work (Alex Cross or the winged children books), you could just as easily start with this book as you could 1st to Die. If you have never heard of Patterson, I can only assume you do not read murder-mystery novels.

by Wil Owen
16 December 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.