by James Patterson
The first half of this Women’s Murder Club story drew me in from page one and I had a hard time putting it down. When a disturbing double murder takes place in an exclusive San Francisco hotel, Lindsey Boxer is drawn into a case with far-reaching, even global implications. While investigating the murders on a surveillance tape from the hotel, Lindsey sees a man who looks remarkably like her husband and becomes personally drawn into the case.
Before I was halfway through the book, I lost interest in hearing about Lindsey’s devotion to her infant daughter: the detailed descriptions of the child’s every expression, diaper change, and mood, became extremely tiresome. Patterson claims to write this series for women. But as a woman and a mother, I don’t need a reminder of maternal love and the cuteness and demands of babies on every-other page. Enough is enough. I read suspense for the plot, not to read a detailed account of Lindsey's motherly devotion in every paragraph.
The reader need not be a rocket scientist to figure out that despite the many clues to the contrary, Lindsey’s husband would turn out to be on the side of the good guys. (How could he possibly be a villain when he had fathered such an adorable baby?)
We don’t see much of the Murder Club in this book. It was mainly all about Lindsey and her frustration with her husband’s (possible) betrayal and her dedication to a case that put her child constantly in the hands of an always-available sitter.
Yes, the second half of the 15th Affair was a letdown and the ending predictable.
Hard to recommend this one.
What other authors can learn from the 15th Affair:
1. Readers do enjoy subplots that tell them about the main character’s family life, but it’s important to find a balance. Every chapter does not have to include family drama.
2. Keep things unpredictable. The sitter shouldn’t always be available, the husband always perfect, and the plot does not have to always end up being part of a global conspiracy; unless, of course, your book falls into the thriller genre instead of suspense.
3. If you’re writing a series that includes more than one main character as the Women’s Murder Club does, try to keep a balance of the characters in every book. Readers do complain when one is missing from the action.
I am definitely a Patterson fan, but not necessarily a fan of every one of his series. I don’t care for suspense books that go into too much detail about the personal lives of the characters unless their families are somehow involved in the plot. That is why I don’t read Patterson’s series about the New York detective who is a single parent with about 10 children. I quit reading them after one of the books had scenes in every chapter describing the children’s stomach flu and how much they threw up.
That is not to say that every reader feels the way I do. I’m sure there are many who enjoy a lot more family drama included in a mystery/suspense book than myself. But as authors, we would like to satisfy both group of readers, wouldn’t we?
Finding the right balance can be tricky, but worth the effort.
Have a wonderful summer and Fourth of July,