James Patterson’s 1st to Die is the first installment in the Women’s Murder Club series. This mystery thriller follows homicide inspector Lindsay Boxer, a member of the Women’s Murder Club, and her search for the elusive murderer of newlywed couples.
Lindsay is difficult to find believable at times because of how Patterson portrays her. Though he does a marvelous job of creating her world and introducing her to his readers, Patterson’s male voice sometimes sneaks into Lindsay’s behavior, making her hard to connect with as a female reader. However, Lindsay’s medical struggles with Negli’s aplastic anemia, the body’s inability to produce red blood cells, and her growing love affair, adds depth to the novel.
The other women in the Women’s Murder Club: Claire, Cindy, and Jill, each represent a faction in the world of law and I looked forward to the chapters where I could learn more about them, but I was left disappointed. If these three women are a big influence on how the grisly murders are solved, then why does Patterson bypass their backstories? And why does Jill, the assistant D.A. prosecuting the suspect, make an appearance much later in the book?
Another issue I encountered was the blatant attack on men. Patterson’s struggle to write from the viewpoint of a female character resulted in bitter women. The Women’s Murder Club is created for the sole purpose of proving that women can solve a mystery without male influences. Interestingly enough, a contrasting situation is witnessed between the suspect and his relationships with other women. As a result, Patterson’s novel is an exploration of the hindrances of gender in a book that investigates sexual murders.
The plot is masterfully constructed. Patterson surprises his reader with nearly every cliffhanger, creating an almost unimaginable, disturbing conclusion. His writing style welcomes the reader to join the investigation, since Lindsay is also learning as the novel progresses.
The chapters written from the murderer’s point of view are disturbing as he offers the reader clues about his identity and the final minutes in the victims’ lives. From the killer’s reaction to his first kill, to the haunting murders themselves, Patterson’s world promises to enthrall the reader with his intriguing, but nauseatingly realistic writing.
Well researched and an eerie insight into the world of serial killers, 1st to Die is a mystery thriller that will keep the reader guessing up until the final sentence of the epilogue.