Wednesday, September 28, 2016

15th Affair by James Patterson : A Review


BOOK TITLE: 15th Affair

AUTHOR: James Patterson

ISBN/ASIN: 9781780892900

GENRE: Fiction / Police thriller

NUMBER OF PAGES: 351

FORMAT: Paperback

SERIES / STANDALONE: Women's Murder Club #15

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: This was a gift from a friend for personal reading

SUMMARY:

Four bodies are found in a luxury hotel

The first is a man who checked in under a false name. Two are in a room next door, full of surveillance equipment. And the fourth is the house maid, who saw too much.

Detective Lindsay Boxer is sent in to investigate and hunt down an elusive and dangerous suspect. But when her husband Joe goes missing, she begins to fear that the suspect she is searching for could be him.

As the case gets ever more complicated and personal, San Francisco is suddenly faced with an atrocity no one will ever forget.

Sometimes secrets can be deadly...

FIRST IMPRESSION:

The 15th affair, book 15 of the Women's Murder Club, was a much awaited book for me as I was a fan of the series and had read the 14 previous books from the same series. I had also read other books by the author and was pretty much waiting for the next instalment for my favorite women protagonists to solve crime as they handled their jobs and lives.

The summary and cover looked simple and I felt a sense of returning to the familiarity of a WMC novel.

REVIEW:

One of the many things I knew and loved about the series were its titles - from books one to 14, the numbers in the book meant something in connection with the story and also clearly mentioned why a particular title was chosen. Maybe I had completely missed it due to other reasons or maybe it really was not that evident, but the reason behind this title was not very clear to me and I spent the whole of the book looking for the elusive connection.

Lindsay Boxer - a happy mother of an adorable daughter is having a near perfect personal life, and is happy to return home to a perfect domestic scene after a hard day at work. Right when thnigs seem to be going well, four murders shock the city of San Francisco and Lindsay Boxer is called on the scene to investigate four murders. The clues all fade out as soon as they appear and before long, Lindsay finds her professional life clashing with her personal life and revealing shocking truths about the man she believed above everyone else - her husband, the strong, dependable and charming Joe. As the case of the four murders keeps growing stronger and murkier, Lindsay is also affected by her husband's continuous absence, prompting her to come to horrifying conclusions. Was Joe involved in this? If so, to what extent? And whose side was he on? What did he know? And how much did he know? Lindsay is armed with limited information as she struggles with two mysteries in her life that could both combine as the same thing. What happens next is the rest of the story.

While I have always been a fan of Lindsay Boxer as a character and have grown to admire her very human, faltering weaknesses and strong willed determination, I found, for the first time, that I really did not like a novel that was focusing mainly on her. The Women's Murder Club series grew on me mainly because it spoke about the combined efforts of all four women in the books, each of them contributing in some way to solve the mystery. The books usually follow certain basic plot points - a gruesome crime happens in San Francisco and the four women in various fields join hands and contribute to solve the crime. Lindsay narrates the book in most parts but the speciality is the third person narrative in a few chapters that speak about perspectives other than Lindsay's. Together they complete the story, linking all the missing pieces to form the full picture.

Amidst all the chapters, almost equal importance is given to the other three women and their professional brilliance. But the 15th Affair feels like a One (Wo)Man Show, with Lindsay holding the megaphone and donning the greasepaint all by herself and concentrating more on the lament of her missing husband and his involvement in the crime scene, and even the hyperactive Cindy Thomas and the ever strong Clair Washburn (who usually provide Lindsay with information that will help in solving her case) are reduced to mere namesake appearances. While the author has clearly tried to show the other lesser known side of his leading ladies, he has overdone it a bit on Lindsay's side, making her (actually normal for a wife) ranting about her missing husband take away the focus of the book and the main crimes that form the plot of the book.

That is not to say that there is no proper conclusion to the story or the main plot element. There is proper closure to the novel and the inclusion of a few good twists. But the novel still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of veering away from the original style of the other novels in the series and loses the focus on the other three ladies who are an integral part of the books and the plots. The 15th affair is an interesting read, but for some fans who liked the WMC as a whole and not just Lindsay alone, this novel will be a disappointment. The plot and language are the usual, but the execution a bit unusual. Hoping for a better book in number 16.

WHAT I LIKED:

  • The inclusion of a completely new angle to crime in San Francisco
  • The story does have its share of twists and turns to keep the interest of the reader alive
  • The familiarity of the writing, despite the obvious shifts in focus.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:

  • The novel needed more focus on the other three ladies of WMC
  • Underutilisation of an exciting plot elements
  • Title relevance not obvious like in previous books
VERDICT:

A good book overall, but not much of a treat for die hard fans of the WMC.

RATING: 3.5/5

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, Audible

PRICE $3.73 for Kindle, $10.09 for Paperback, $19.60 for Hardcover

BOOK LINKS: Amazon

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