James Patterson & Andrew Gross






Little, Brown and Company, March 2004
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding

3RD DEGREE is Patterson's third novel in The Women's Murder Club Series featuring four female characters: a detective, a reporter, a prosecutor and a medical examiner.

San Francisco Homicide Detective Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer has just finished a morning jog with DA Jill Bernhardt when a nearby townhouse explodes. Lindsay runs into the burning rubble. She finds three people dead but saves the life of a young boy. She discovers the house belongs to the CEO of an Internet business that went bankrupt after he milked the company of its assets. A radical domestic terrorist group, known as August Spies, claims responsibility for the bombing. When two more attacks occur with the same group claiming responsibility, terror grips the city.

Cindy Thomas, journalist for the Chronicle, receives an e-mail from the terrorists saying that every three days another attack will take place, unless their demands are met. Cindy is called on to keep the anonymous e-mail sender communicating in hopes they can discover their true identify.

During the middle of the crisis, a painful secret of Assistant District Attorney Jill Bermhardt comes to light. When she finally finds the courage to let down her guard enough to allow her friends to help it may be too late.

Medical Examiner Claire Washburn discovers a deadly chemical inside one of the terrorist victims. The potential threat of this chemical weapon could bring horrific and deadly consequences if the terrorist released it on the city.

The Department of Homeland Security sends in its deputy director, Joe Molinari. An upcoming G-8 economic summit with the world's most powerful financiers is coming to San Francisco in eight days. They are in a race to find the terrorist cell before it threatens national security.

Lindsay Boxer is the narrator of this clever and edgy thriller. She is a smart and capable woman who thrives under pressure but discovers she has no life outside her job until she finds a love interest in Joe Molinari. Joe is a handsome and powerful man who proves he can listen and let Lindsay take the lead in the investigation when the situation warrants.

3RD DEGREE moves at a lightning-fast pace with edge-of-your-seat suspense. Patterson writes short chapters of two to four pages, and employs a list of characters too long to mention. He doesn't spend a lot of time trying to put readers into the heads of these women. The action moves too quickly for much introspection so he uses his well turned dialogue to reveal the characters. The four women are close friends who work well together, especially when the heat is turned on. The book would make a fine television series featuring these likable and feisty ladies.

The Women's Murder Club Series began with 1ST TO DIE (Mar 2001) followed by 2ND CHANCE (Mar 2002) and even though 3RD DEGREE is the first book I've read in this series I didn't have any problem getting into the story. This is a fascinating and gripping book by an author who knows how to keep readers turning the pages.


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