12th of Never (Women’s Murder Club #12) – Maxine Paetro and James Patterson

12th of Never 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, 10th Anniversary, 11th Hour, Unlucky 13, 14th Deadly Sin
Series: Women's Murder Club #12
on April 29, 2013
Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Buy on Amazon

It's finally time! Detective Lindsay Boxer is in labor--while two killers are on the loose.
Lindsay Boxer's beautiful baby is born! But after only a week at home with her new daughter, Lindsay is forced to return to work to face two of the biggest cases of her career.
A rising star football player for the San Francisco 49ers is the prime suspect in a grisly murder. At the same time, Lindsay is confronted with the strangest story she's ever heard: An eccentric English professor has been having vivid nightmares about a violent murder and he's convinced is real. Lindsay doesn't believe him, but then a shooting is called in-and it fits the professor's description to the last detail.
Lindsay doesn't have much time to stop a terrifying future from unfolding. But all the crimes in the world seem like nothing when Lindsay is suddenly faced with the possibility of the most devastating loss of her life.

There’s the old saying that says “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” There’s a lesser-known saying that says “If it’s broke and nobody notices, it ain’t broke.” The twelfth Women’s Murder Club novel feels a lot of that. I can’t blame Patterson and Paetro for basically repeating the same story structure over and over again. Why mess with a formula that consistently puts them #1 on the bestseller’s list? But 12th of Never is nothing new: Lindsay and Joe undergo relational drama, as to Cindy and Rich; every twist makes them confident they have the right guy this time only for the next twist to reveal they don’t; Yuki is forced to prosecute a case on paper-thin evidence and her job is on the line if she fails (because winning is better than actually meting out justice; and there’s an epilogue that reads more like a disconnected short story than part of the actual book.

Except, there is one new thing this time around: Lindsay Boxer is having a baby. In true melodramatic fashion, she can’t get to the hospital, there’s a huge storm, and she ends up delivering at home with the help of an entire firefighter/EMT squad (who then take her to the hospital). It’s a significant moment in the Women’s Murder Club saga. How will Lindsay handle being a parent and a cop? No time to dwell on it because we have four, yes, count them, FOUR separate plot lines to unload in 360 pages.

Plot 1: A lawyer is accused of killing his wife and daughter.

Plot 2: A professor dreams about murders before they happen.

Plot 3: A girlfriend of an NFL star is murderer.

Plot 4: A serial killer returns in an unexpected way.

The end result is a frenetic journey that goes here, there, and everywhere, never really settling down. Patterson is known for fast-paced novels with short chapter and a utilitarian approach to writing, but there’s simply too much story and simultaneously not enough. Any one or two of these storylines would have made for a good novel. With four, Patterson and Paetro simply can’t give any one the depth they deserve.

Plots 1 and 2 are the primary focus of the novel and both are good in their own way. The second is rather cheesy and has a predictable end result (spoiler: he’s not really predicting the murders, but by telling people about them…). That does lead to a significant relational plot twist that might have been dramatic if we’d had any time with the affected character beforehand.

I did appreciate that Claire got some time in 12th of Never. She’s a favorite character and all too often sidelined. Having a murder victim stolen from the morgue is a clever plot line and one I enjoyed, even if the end result was rather underwhelming. We could also talk about how, for like ten pages, Joe and Lindsay think that their baby has cancer, but nope never mind, just mono. There’s fast-paced and relentless writing that’s good, and then there’s this. Great ideas with no depth and mediocre execution.