Mystery / Suspense

3rd Degree

Written by: James Patterson with Andrew Gross

Published By: Little, Brown and Company

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            Since the now-defunct Womenís Murder Club introduced me to the series of mystery/suspense novels written by James Patterson, I have made every effort to collect the older novels so I can catch up on what Iíve been missing.  Having already enjoyed reading the first two, I decided it was time to check out the third novel in the series, aptly entitled 3rd Degree.

            It has been two years since San Francisco Homicide Detective Lindsay Boxer, Chief Assistant District Attorney Jill Bernhardt, Coroner Claire Washburn and Crime Reporter Cindy Thomas formed the Womenís Murder Club, just a group of intelligent, hardworking and dedicated professionals hoping to stop a serial killer before he could claim his next victim.  Since then, the group has become an incredibly close, tight knit family of sorts, looking out for one another as they pool their resources and their keen insights to solve some of the most high profile cases in San Francisco.

            But something about this new case is different.  A socially conscious group of terrorists have taken San Francisco by storm, their first message delivered through the explosion of a townhouse, killing all of the adult occupants inside.  The cryptic message left behind warns of more to come, citing the owner of the home as an enemy of the people.  The group calling itself August Spies eventually contacts Cindy, warning her that another terrorist act will take place every three days until the upcoming economic summit is cancelled and the economic leaders admit that they are single-handedly destroying the world.

            After the second killing, the group takes them to heart.  Joined by Homeland Security Deputy Director Joe Molinari, Lindsay must track down this elusive homegrown terrorist cell before they kill again.  But when one of their own comes under fire, will it cripple the Womenís Murder Club long enough for the perpetrators to get away?

            Reading this book in the volatile political climate of 2012, I was stunned to learn that 3rd Degree had been published seven years ago, long before the disorganized protests sparking all over the world.  It seems as if James Patterson and his co-author Andrew Gross had some foresight into the minds of the Occupy Wall Street movement that has been sweeping the nation of late.  The protests that provide a backdrop to the events in this novel are all over the place as well, blaming the millionaires and large companies for all of the woes of the world, including things like AIDS, debt crises, sweatshops and more.

            Of course, we soon discover that the protests and rallies taking place in 3rd Degree have been orchestrated to hide the activities of the members of August Spies, who have two very separate agendas - one of protest and one of revenge.  Funny enough, I have been of the opinion that something was behind the recent protests of late; a power that the people involved in the protests donít even realize is propelling them forward.  It sounds awful conspiracy theory-ish, but I think someone egged these protests on to mask their own activities.  I find it rather entertaining that I would come up with this theory long before reading a fictional novel written years before that is based on the same theory. 

            As with all of James Pattersonís novels, 3rd Degree is fast-moving and filled with action and suspense.  The reader has a great deal of fun attempting to solve the crimes along with characters that they have become so invested in, they actually can believe they exist.  Understanding the bond the readers will form with the members of the Womenís Murder Club will explain why the special twist in this novel will throw the readers for a loop, hitting them in the same way it will hit the main characters of the novel.  I, myself, was shocked beyond belief at this turn of events, but have vowed not to reveal the incident to those who have yet to read the book themselves.  All I can say is: WOW, didnít see that one coming!

            3rd Degree is an extremely entertaining mystery/suspense novel that takes you on a dozen twists and turns until the tale is complete.  I finished the book in a couple of days and found myself yearning for more.  Iíll just have to get my hands on the fourth novel in the series to find out whatís in store for the club in the future.  In the meantime, I highly recommend this novel for any fan of suspense novels - James Patterson never seems to disappoint.


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