Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The 8th Confession - James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

The 8th Confession
James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Little, Brown and Company


During rush hour in San Francisco, a school bus explodes, taking surrounding cars and drivers with it. Upon inspection, it’s clear that the bus was not carrying children, but a mobile meth lab. While Sgt. Lindsay Boxer and her partner Rich Conklin work the scene, reporter Cindy Thomas leaves her apartment building to a grisly sight. There’s a homeless man, apparently beaten to death and left on the street. Seeing the possibilities of a multi-part story for her paper, Cindy immediately begins talking to the homeless who have come to pay tribute. The man was known as Bagman Jesus and, according to everyone willing to talk to Cindy, he was the kind of guy who helped his fellow homeless.

Speaking to Lindsay, Cindy demands to know if the SFPD will be investigating this death. Lindsay knows the truth. The death of a homeless man, even by violent means, with no witnesses, is not going to get much priority at the best of times. And this is not the best of times. Members of the Nob Hill elite are dropping dead in their own homes. Chief ME Claire Washburn is stumped; she can’t find a cause of death. Some of the dead and their families are well connected politically, so these cases are given higher priority. In other words, it’s all rolling downhill and landing on Boxer and Conklin.

Knowing that Cindy is relentless in her job, and since she’s already run a story portraying Bagman Jesus as the patron saint of the homeless community, Lindsay promises to investigate the death in whatever off time she has. Cindy isn’t satisfied with that and isn’t shy about saying so. This is probably the first time in the series that one character nearly turns on another. Cindy basically accuses Lindsay, a longtime friend, of not doing her job. Given the accusation, Lindsay’s reaction is pretty mild. And I have to admit to feeling a certain satisfaction when Cindy’s smug assumptions blow up in her face. As written here, she’s easily the most shrill and almost-mean of the four women.

Claire has had her baby, but still works as Chief ME. She’s dedicated to her job and clearly doesn’t like a puzzle she can’t solve. Yuki is working on a prosecution that’s completely unrelated to the main story, but is still a story within itself. There are romantic subplots for three of the women, but the majority of the book is given over to the investigations. And that’s just fine. The investigations are interesting, move at a quick pace, and contain some interesting twists. The outcomes are not neat, but seem quite realistic. This series (6th TARGET, 7th HEAVEN) still has legs.

Rating: 7 ½
April 2009
ISBN# 978-0-316-01876-0 (hardcover)


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