15th Affair (Women’s Murder Club #15) – Maxine Paetro and James Patterson

15th Affair James Patterson
15th Affair 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, 12th of Never, Unlucky 13
Series: Women's Murder Club #15
on May 2, 2016
Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
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When an alluring blonde with ties to the CIA disappears from a murder scene, Detective Lindsay Boxer turns to the Women's Murder Club to help her track down an elusive suspect: her husband.

As she settles into motherhood and a happy marriage, Lindsay Boxer thinks she has found domestic bliss. But when a beautiful, alluring blonde woman with links to the CIA disappears from the scene of a brutal murder at a downtown luxury hotel, Lindsay's life begins to unravel. Before she can track down the woman for questioning, a plane crash plunges San Francisco into chaos and Lindsay's husband Joe vanishes.The deeper she digs, the more Lindsay suspects that Joe shares a secret past with the mystery blonde. Thrown into a tailspin and questioning everything she thought she knew, Lindsay turns to the Women's Murder Club for help as she tries to uncover the truth.Filled with the pulse-pounding intrigue that has made James Patterson the world's #1 bestselling writer, 15th Affair proves that all is fair in love, war, and espionage.

Always be careful what you wish for. If you’ve read the reviews I’ve done for the last few books in this series, you’ll have noticed that I continually hit upon two themes: 1) Lindsay’s family life seems to have disappeared and 2) There are too many plotlines. The 15th Affair makes up for all that by devoting an entire book to Lindsay and Joe’s relationship.

Ostensibly, it’s about Lindsay investigating a professional hit at a swanky upscale hotel and then getting complicated by terrorists shooting down a plane—but at the heart of it all is Joe Molinari. We haven’t seen Joe much as of late. The Women’s Murder Club series has misused his character since the beginning. Formerly the Deputy Director of Homeland Security (!), Joe is now a stay at home dad who does threat assessment and consulting work, graciously giving up his career so that Lindsay can perpetually be a police force sergeant.

Video footage of the swanky hotel murder reveals a surprising suspect. Joe was there. And now Joe’s missing. No call. No note. No nothing. Julie has been handed off to a lovely neighbor/convenient plot device to store children. Now there’s a terrorist attack, a murder that’s increasingly looking connected, and Joe is at the center of it all.

The 15th Affair had promise. Not as a Women’s Murder Club novel, because this book is pretty much sans Club. Does Cindy investigate Joe’s past? No. Does Claire offer a shoulder to cry on? Not really. Does Yuki…do whatever would be best for her to do? No. With a chance to make the Women’s Murder Club truly the Women’s Murder Club once again, Patterson and Paetro have 75% of the protagonists just hang out in the background as their best friend comes to think her husband is secretly a philandering terrorist.

Patterson and Paetro, to their credit, heard the criticisms: You’re just telling the same stories over and over. What happened to Joe? Focus on just one or two stories. They delivered on that, but in a way that’s so over the top that it boggles the mind. Remember how the Fast and the Furious movies started with duded stealing TVs from a truck and the last one had them drive a car in space? The same thing has happened with the Women’s Murder Club. And if the storytelling was good, we’d stick with it even if we knew it was nonsense. If you can make me invested in the characters, I’ll suspend disbelief for the rest of it.

Unfortunately, the Joe/Lindsay relational character arc is just so poorly and frustratingly written. They have no depth, no chemistry, no connection (and they used to!). Neither one seems to care about the other and only barely care about their kid. The authors have really written themselves into a hole and this is them beginning to claw their way out, but right now it ain’t pretty.

I’ll give this story credit: It did something different and it tried to fix the most dysfunctional relational aspect of the series. I don’t know yet that it worked, but they tried. The mystery itself is reasonable, the action is intense. Devoid of character backstory, this could have been a good novel. In fact, maybe it was, just not a good Women’s Murder Club story.