10th Anniversary (Women’s Murder Club #10) – Maxine Paetro and James Patterson

10th Anniversary by James Patterson, Maxine Paetro
Also by this author: 1st to Die, 2nd Chance, 3rd Degree, The Horsewoman, 4th of July, The 5th Horseman, The 6th Target, 7th Heaven, The 8th Confession, The 9th Judgment, 11th Hour, 12th of Never, Unlucky 13, 14th Deadly Sin
Series: Women's Murder Club #10
on May 2, 2011
Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
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Detective Lindsay Boxer's long-awaited wedding celebration becomes a distant memory when she is called to investigate a horrendous crime: a badly injured teenage girl is left for dead, and her newborn baby is nowhere to be found. Lindsay discovers that not only is there no trace of the criminals - but that the victim may be keeping secrets.
At the same time, Assistant District Attorney Yuki Castellano is prosecuting the biggest case of her life - a woman who has been accused of murdering her husband in front of her two young children. Yuki's career rests on a guilty verdict, so when Lindsay finds evidence that could save the defendant, she is forced to choose. Should she trust her best friend or follow her instinct?
Lindsay's every move is watched by her new boss, Lieutenant Jackson Brady, and when the pressure to find the baby starts interfering with her new marriage to Joe, she wonders if she'll ever be able to start a family of her own.

The quality of the Women’s Murder Club series is best defined as a roller coaster. With all the ups and downs, twists and turns, you never know what you’re going to get. Patterson and Paetro have proven they can write a compelling thriller and they’ve also proved that the Patterson’s utilitarian method of “write stories, not sentences” can keep readers turning pages even through the worst writing. Ten books into this series and I have to give Patterson and Paetro credit. Even when they write a bad book, I’m still looking forward to the next.

10th Anniversary is the inevitable regression to the mean after the outstanding The 9th Judgment. Tonally, the book is bit different than the rest in the series—a bit lighter on the crime and heavier on the romance. And perhaps some of that is well-deserved. After several books of will-they-won’t-they, Linsday Boxer and Joe Molinari are finally tying the knot. Yuki also finds new love—er, well, lust—with Brady, a married police lieutenant and Lindsay’s boss. Time will tell if this is going to be a long-term plot decision or something only to shock for this book. Also, Rich Conklin proposes to Cindy. Because why not have all the relational shakeups happen in one book?

In addition to the relational drama, there are not one, not two, but three separate plotlines—none of which ever converge. I suppose it is a bit like reality, but the end result is that we get little depth from any story and the novel reads more like an interwoven collection of novellas. Lindsay and her partner, Rich Conklin, investigate the near-murder of a young teen mom and the kidnapping of her baby. The storyline is bland and predictable, hinging on the trope that teenagers are liars and good ones at that.

The more interesting story is Yuki Castellano’s court case where she attempts to convict a woman of murdering her husband in front of their children. It seems like a slam dunk case, something Yuki needs after a string of losses, but after a few twists Yuki is left wondering if they’re prosecuting the wrong person. This storyline actually held some mystery and I liked the resolution.

The final storyline involves Cindy, the crime reporter, chasing down a serial rapist. You might imagine where that leads, but of course the day is saved at the last minute. This story could have been excised from the book and not affected anything. I would gladly have given it up to get a little more depth on Yuki’s story. However, I do like the attempt to actually incorporate all of the WMC characters into one novel. Lindsay’s always your main and the B plot rotates between Cindy and Yuki with Claire almost always being shoved aside. The premise of the series at its inception was that all the women would come together on one case. That hasn’t been true for a while and I can’t decide if it’s a good or bad thing that their lives seem so disparate.

10th Anniversary is a passable Women’s Murder Club novel, but it’s passable on the strength of Patterson’s methodology and not on its literary merits. Having read the previous nine books, I have an investment in the characters and so I’m willing to ride the story out. If you started the series here, without any of that connection, I doubt you’d be as lenient with it.