CBR #26 – It Don’t Count As A Cliffhanger If You Just Stop Building The Fucking Bridge

14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

I don’t think McPatterson expected the franchise to grow this big. I mean, granted, Maxine Paetro has been writing this series since she took over from Andrew Gross.  I don’t even know if JimmyPat and Andrew Gross are still working together anymore. Since this review is my official half-cannonball point, I feel I should digress to tell a story of my time as a bookslinger.

I loved working the middle information desk at Barnes & Noble.  People would come seeking a book, and 8 times out of 10 I knew what they wanted without even looking it up on the computer.  Or even better was when people would approach and ask for a recommendation.  I would always say, “What were the last two books you read that you liked?”  And inevitably, this would lead to them perusing a paperback and then coming back a month later, looking for that little bald guy with the glasses.

Well, Patterson had just released in hardcover The Jester with Andrew Gross.  This was back in the beginning, just as he was starting to franchise.  Well, as a fan of both medieval stuff and James Patterson, I took advantage of the B&N policy where booksellers could borrow a new hardcover release for two weeks.  I blazed through it.  It was fucking horrible.  Atrocious.  Just total fucking garbage.

So folks would come in, and they would start checking out the massive pile of Jester copies.  It was Patterson.  And I would mutter, “Don’t do it.”  And they’d be like what?  And I said, “It’s terrible. You like James Patterson?”  They’d nod.  I asked, “Have you ever read the Women’s Murder Club books he did?”  Most hadn’t.  It was still early in the series and he had actually just written the third with Andrew Gross.  Most folks were hooked like I was by the Alex Cross books.  So I’d walk them over to Patterson and sell them the first two books in the series.  After a while, my manager pulled me aside and said, “You can’t do that.  You can’t just tell people not to buy a book.”  I nodded.  Said, “If they ask, can I recommend something else?”  He sighed.  Said, “Fine.”  And that was it.  And I had to watch, teary-eyed, as people snagged copies of that pile of shit from the pile of shit.

Well, about a month later, those women that I helped came tottering back into the store.  They said, “Where’s that little bald guy with the glasses?  He recommended me these books, and I want him to tell me more stuff to read.”  Macy’s doesn’t have it go to Gimbels, motherfucker!  BOOM.

Anyway, that was fourteen books ago.  It’s actually still fresh, if formulaic.  The weird part is that you can see the paint by numbers lines in all of Patterson’s book series now.  There’s always two or three crimes going on at once, and usually two of them parallel or intersect is some unforeseen way.  Now, in the Women’s Murder Club series, this makes sense as they have the ME Claire, the reporter Cindy, the cop Lindsay, and the cute Asian attorney Yuki — once they killed off the other white lady lawyer.  (I like Yuki better, even if they keep pitching her like a Margaret Cho sitcom.)

Book 14 had some weird bends.  Claire is basically all but not in it.  Cindy’s doing a book tour, and they pay her a little credence on that.  So mostly it’s Lindsay and Yuki.  Yuki, the ADA, has decided she wants to work for a defense non-profit.  So the people AGAINST the cops.  It’s a left-field choice, but it builds some manufactured drama.  Lindsay’s got the bigger plate.  Men dressed in SFPD windbreakers are robbing check cashing places and drug dealers.  Also, a woman gets gutted in broad daylight and no one sees the perp.  Now, the Yuki and the SFPD cases end up intersecting in a convenient deus ex machina.  But the daystabber really becomes a stupid storyline and had kind of a terrible payoff.  Not so much terrible as really like CBS sitcom-y. But those are the most successful so what the fuck do I know?

I gave it three stars because of the ending which was a fucking shitty cliffhanger.  Fucking shitty cliffhangers have been the usual on the Patterson books lately. He ends in the middle of nowhere.  I mean, I’m surprised he doesn’t have a weblink to Dramatic Chipmunk at the end of the books.  Or it doesn’t just say “Dun-dun-DUNHHHHH!”  He did it with the last few Alex Crosses.  He did it with Private: Vegas.  I can’t remember if he did it with the Michael Bennett’s because those have just blended to mush for me.  But he does it here.

However.  I really kind of love the potential direction that the series can go from here.  It’s a stupid shitty cliffhanger.  But, it really can do some awesome fucking stuff with what comes in Book 15, Something Other Than What Janet Evanovich Used For Book 15!  So I dig it. It’s not quite the level of what happens at the end of Jim Butcher’s Changes, but it’s still gonna shake everything up.  So I’ll give Maxine credit.  She’s keeping the burgers fresh at McPatterson.

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