James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Review: Brian Joss
This is the 16th in the Women’s Murder Club series featuring homicide detective Lindsay Boxer of the San Francisco police department, lawyer Yuki Castellano, whose husband is Lt Jackson Brady, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Cindy Thomas and Chief Medical Examiner Claire Washburn.
Patterson has written some titles on his own and others with Andrew Gross and Paetro.
Boxer is married to Joe Molinara who has a highly classified job with Homeland Security or does he? Detective Rich Conklin who has a rocky relationship with Thomas has been Boxer’s partner on the beat for many years and the wise Washburn is always ready to help.
The four meet regularly at Susie’s bar where they try to solve the latest crime.
This time they have an explosive case on their hands. The story opens with Boxer and Conklin on a stake-out in the Tenderloin as part of a task force to address a terror threat orchestrated by GAR (Great Anti-establishment Reset), who are equal opportunity bombers blowing up churches, synagogues, mosques and universities. The task team is on high alert for another terror attack on the Fourth of July weekend, and is expecting more than just fireworks. This time the target is the San Francisco Airport.
A month later Boxer and Molinara who have been separated for six months after she kicked him out are “celebrating their wedding anniversary” at a seafood restaurant on Pier 9 when there is a boom and a bright flash as the Sci-Tron, the popular science museum, on the opposite pier explodes “like a bud bursting into bloom”, showering shards of glass and steel everywhere. Is it another terror attack initiated by GAR, they wonder. As they rush to help the victims, Boxer notices a mild-mannered man, Connor Grant, smiling and watching in amazement. When she and Molinara question the high school science teacher, he confesses to the bombing and they arrest him. Molinara is severely injured and in hospital after trying to rescue a victim from the debris of the Sci-Tron. There are more sparks when Grant recants his confession and though he has a lawyer, elects to defend himself in court.
Meanwhile the chief medical examiner finds a mysterious puncture mark on the thigh of one of the women who apparently died of a heart attack and was brought in with the bombing victims. Then Washburn finds more victims, unrelated, who have also died of suspected heart attacks. But all of them have these strange puncture marks. While Boxer is worrying about her husband in hospital she and Conklin have to find the killer. Back in court Yuki Castellano who is again working for District Attorney, Len Parisi, and is prosecuting the case against Grant who surprises everyone with his knowledge of the law.
That’s the outline of the plot and to say more would be a spoiler. However, the defence raises serious questions about Boxer and Molinara’s investigation and Boxer is facing an inquiry by Internal Affairs. With all this hanging over her head she and Conklin still have to find the “needle killer”. 16th Seduction is a fast-paced read from one of the world’s most prolific writers. It’s mayhem all the way as the bodies mount up and the net closes in on the needle killer and GAR. There are twists and turns and red herrings galore and the explosive climax brings the white-knuckle read to a satisfying conclusion when you’ll find out whether Boxer and Conklin get their man and if the mild-mannered science teacher is indeed the bomber, working alone or with GAR.