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A Review of James Patterson's "The 8th Confession'
James Patterson’s eighth installment of the Women’s Murder Club series takes off in a big way. A terrible bus explosion leaves 10 people dead. The bus turns out to be a mobile meth lab. With the case apparently closed, Lindsay moves on to investigate a series of high-profile murders: somebody is targeting San Francisco’s fabulously wealthy, leaving no trace of evidence at the murder scenes. Lindsay and her partner, Rich Conklin, are stumped. As they investigate the murders they uncover chilling family secrets and sad stories of failed adolescent friendships.
As always, Lindsay’s romantic life takes a star role in this book. Lindsay is living with Joe, but she still hasn’t responded to his marriage proposal. She seems to love him, seems to want to be with him, but her fear of living a life unfulfilled keeps her from making a decision. Her chemistry with Rich doesn’t help either, and she struggles to hold back her feelings for him, and struggles even more to hold back her anger as Rich and Cindy pursue a relationship.
Meanwhile, Cindy investigates the murder of an apparent homeless man, Bagman Jesus, and chooses to use his story to highlight the city’s blatant ignorance of the plight of the homeless and poor. Unfortunately, as her investigation continues Bagman Jesus is revealed to be less than the hero Cindy hoped he’d be, but instead a meth dealer who used teenaged girls to deal the drugs. This discovery brings Rich and Lindsay closer to the case as they try to find who dealt out illegal vigilante justice.
Yuki and Claire aren’t to be left out either. Claire is basking in the glow of new motherhood, and Yuki continues her struggle to make it in the DA’s office as she loses yet another high profile case. In addition, Yuki’s budding relationship with ER doctor John Chesney takes an interesting turn as he reveals a somewhat disturbing secret about his childhood and adolescence. It seems like nothing wants to work out for Yuki.
Overall, The 8th Confession was as enjoyable as a disappointing book could be. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. Read out to find out why!
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Again, Patterson tries to put way too much into way to small a space. I found myself struggling through the quagmire, trying to keep track of the multiple unconnected plot lines. I personally would have preferred if Patterson had stuck to only two or three plot lines, not the six or more plots that are running now.
My biggest beef with this book, however, is how Lindsay finally accepts Joe’s marriage proposal. It felt trite, clichéd, and out of character for Lindsay. Lindsay’s issues with marrying Joe were rooted in a serious internal emotional struggle. Since her father abandoned her, Lindsay had struggled to find men trustworthy, struggled to find love when in her heart of hearts she believed they’d just abandon her too. I really would have expected Lindsay’s acceptance of Joe, then, to be private and personal. The public (re)proposal in the crowded ballroom setting didn’t jibe with my understanding of Lindsay’s character. The Lindsay I know and love would have accepted Joe’s proposal in a more private setting. Maybe she would have made him a romantic pasta dinner and poured her heart out to him. Maybe she would have simply put the ring on her finger as she watched Joe sleep, the novel ending on an image of her private resolution of her long-time fears. That is how my Lindsay Boxer accepts Joe’s proposal; what Patterson wrote was uncharacteristic and unsatisfying.
That being said there were some admirable points that beg recognition. Though I usually dislike Patterson’s current trend of weaving together multiple plot lines, I was impressed with how he managed to keep the opening scene connected to the rest of the novel. When you open a book with such a vivid scene, readers expect that to be the focal point. The fact that it becomes a background plot is disappointing, but eventually connecting it to a larger aspect of the novel does satiate some of the latent desire for completion. The bus belonged (spoiler alert!) to Bagman Jesus, and that was enough for me to accept its placement in the novel.
The main murder plot was also fascinating. I loved that the murder weapon was non-conventional, biological, and natural. It added a new element to Patterson’s typical twisted killers who rely on torture eye-catching methods. This was simple, new, and somewhat morbidly fun. I enjoyed learning about the villain, Pet Girl, and her motives.
Unfortunately, I have a hard time finding much good in the Women’s Murder Club novels right now. Perhaps I’m just feeling some WMC burnout, but the books are getting progressively disappointing. I hope the rest are more fun, and I sincerely hope Patterson will put the series to bed after 12th of Never, because it seems to me like this series is quickly reaching its expiration date. I’ll stick with it though, because I’m a dedicated James Patterson fan, and I hate to leave any book series unfinished (unless it’s Fifty Shades of Grey. I’ll let that one go unfinished).