Sunday, October 4, 2015

Review: 1st to Die (Women's Murder Club #1) by James Patterson

1st to Die (Women's Murder Club, #1) 

Synopsis: In San Francisco newlyweds are being stalked - and slaughtered. Enter four unforgettable women, all friends...Lindsay, a homicide inspector in the city's police department...Claire, a medical examiner...Jill, an assisstant D.A....and Cindy, a reporter who has just started working the crime desk of the San Francisco Chronicle. Joining forces, pooling their talents, courage, and brains, they have one goal. To find, trap, and outwit the most diabolical and terrifying killer ever imagined. 

Date Published: March 5, 2000
Published By: Grand Central Publishing
Number of Pages: 462
Rating: 3/5

This was my first time reading a James Patterson novel. Below are some thoughts:

-Definitely a page turner but not as compelling as some thrillers I've read in the past (The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl) 

-The writing is straightforward, workmanline. It gets the job done. It's not like I was in raptures over the brilliance of the prose but it wasn't cringeworthy either. Well, sometimes it was, particularly some of the dialogue. 

-There was a pretty decent twist at the end that I didn't see coming but then he added another...and another and that's when it fell apart for me. The first twist was perfect. It totally blindsided me but, in the context of the story, it made sense. That's what a good twist does - it comes as a surprise but when you look back at what you've read so far, it fits perfectly. The second twist was okay but it didn't make quite as much sense as the first one. The last twist was just fucking stupid. Revealed in the last two pages it was like 'Here's what was really happening all along! HAHAHAHA, isn't that clever?' No. It's not.

-James Patterson does not understand how women really experience sexism. Throughout the book, the women are so proud of themselves for creating their own 'Women's Murder Club' and the whole 'No Boys Allowed' thing and 'Look at us being kickass women who don't need no man' and just going on about it. It was infuriating because A) Patterson is clearly trying way too hard and B) in my experience, women aren't actually like that. Women don't actually think to themselves 'Goddamn controlling men' (actual line from the book). We recognize that sexism is an ingrained part of our society, perpetrated by both men and women and that blaming individual men for it is ignorant. 

-While it is refreshing to see a book that features a strong friendship between four smart, accomplished women, it is riddled with cliches. The women hug each other, call each other 'sweetie,' hold hands, go out for drinks and talk about sex. It's like Sex and the City but with murder. I'm not saying female friendships are never like that but it's really stereotypical. 

-Speaking of stereotypes....Claire, the sole black female character seems like the stereotypical Sassy Black Girlfriend. It's annoying and borderline offensive. To be honest, I didn't think any of the four women went beyond tired stereotypes. 

So, in conclusion, my first experience reading James Patterson was not horrible but it wasn't amazing, either. It's meant to be a quick, enjoyable read (aka brain candy) but if you're looking for a top-notch thriller, look elsewhere. 

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