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The 17th Suspect

Review

The 17th Suspect

The Women’s Murder Club series may be elderly in dog and literary years, but it never gets old. James Patterson and Maxine Paetro have combined a familiar structure that houses ever-new and changing stories, which, as the series closes in on its second decade, has made these books a mainstay on the must-read lists of countless readers.

The structure is deceptively simple. Provide a scenic setting with multiple challenges and problems --- that being the city of San Francisco --- and a primary cast of female characters whose careers are all tied in one way or another to crime. Those would be a homicide investigator (who is first among equals in the series), an assistant district attorney, a crime reporter and a medical examiner. Give the reader multiple storylines, and the job is done. Patterson and Paetro always succeed in keeping it fresh and interesting, which is not easy to pull off, particularly over time. The sustained interest in the series demonstrates their considerable storytelling chops.

"While THE 17th SUSPECT is complete in itself, it does leave an element of the book dangling treacherously at the conclusion.... We will have to wait until next year to find out, but the anticipation will be worth it."

THE 17th SUSPECT deals with two storylines that do not converge, other than over the regular dinner gatherings of the Women’s Murder Club. One involves a killer who murders street people at random. It is not Sergeant Lindsay Boxer’s investigation, but she is brought into it --- actually, she interjects herself into it --- when a woman named Millie Cushing, who is part of San Francisco’s ever-burgeoning homeless community, approaches her out of concern that the police are dragging their feet in their attempt to catch the killer or are ignoring it altogether. Lindsay begins digging and arrives at a similar conclusion, one that raises ire within the department.

As she continues to quietly investigate and make waves among the rank and file, she unknowingly attracts the attention of the killer himself, who ultimately decides to make her a target. Meanwhile, on the personal front, Lindsay finds that she is facing a potential dilemma that may affect both her job and her marriage going forward.

However, the primary story is one that transforms the book into what is essentially a courtroom thriller, and a good one. San Francisco District Attorney Yuki Castellano takes on a highly controversial case, in which a woman named Briana Hill is charged with raping her co-worker, Marc Christopher, at gunpoint. Actually, it’s more complicated than that. Hill is Christopher’s boss at the ad agency where they work. Christopher is a credible witness and even has a video recording of what he alleges is assault. It is the type of case that can either make or break a district attorney’s career. While that is not Yuki’s primary motive in pursuing the matter, she is well aware of the case’s importance. But when she uncovers new evidence, Yuki finds herself at a potential crossroads in her career. What she does, and how she does it, makes this book a winner.

While THE 17th SUSPECT is complete in itself, it does leave an element of the book dangling treacherously at the conclusion. Longtime readers of the series will recall that Patterson and Paetro are not averse to removing recurring characters from the mix with little warning, so whether they will “go there” is a consideration that is always on the table. We will have to wait until next year to find out, but the anticipation will be worth it.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 4, 2018

The 17th Suspect
by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

  • Publication Date: April 30, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 0316274046
  • ISBN-13: 9780316274043