Unlucky 13 (Women’s Murder Club #13) – Maxine Paetro and James Patterson

Unlucky 13 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, 14th Deadly Sin
Series: Women's Murder Club #13
on May 5, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
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When two dead bodies are found inside a wrecked car on the Golden Gate Bridge, Detective Lindsay Boxer doubts that it will be anything as simple as a traffic accident.
The scene is more gruesome than anything she has seen before. It definitely wasn’t the crash that killed these people.
While Lindsay starts to piece this case together, she gets a call she wasn’t expecting. Sightings of her ex-colleague-turned-ruthless-killer Mackie Morales have been reported.
Wanted for three murders, Mackie has been in hiding since she escaped from custody. But now she’s ready to return to San Francisco and pay a visit to some old friends

Unlucky 13 is the continuing saga of the Women’s Murder Club, although the series has long ago become less about the women coming together to solve a murder and more about each member of the club doing their own thing and the separate storylines rarely intersecting. More like real life, perhaps, but that’s the only realistic element these books bring.

The primary plot of this book involves a belly bomb. You heard that right. It’s not clear how, but these dead people exploded from the inside. As the bodies mount, the evidence points back to one thing: they all recently ate at the same chain restaurant. Somebody is spiking the burgers with bombs. It’s goofy, over-the-top, B-movie cheese but Patterson and Paetro play it straight. It’s an entertaining enough storyline, albeit very strange.

The second plot involves the return of Mackie Morales, former SFPD intern, current serial killer on the run. This plot is basically a follow-up to the plot in 12th of Never and, while it isn’t the best told of stories, I have to commend the authors for developing a multi-book plotline. Cindy takes center stage, for some reason, determined to catch the killer and write a book about it.

Meanwhile, very tangentially to all this, Yuki and her longtime boyfriend, Lieutenant Jackson Brady, get married and head off for an Alaskan cruise honeymoon. The vacation ends abruptly when pirates capture the ship and hold the people hostage. I’d say you can’t make this up, but obviously Patterson and Paetro did. The Tom Hanks movie Captain Phillips, a critically-acclaimed movie about Somali pirates taking over a container ship released in October 2013. This book came out in May 2014. As fast as Patterson churns out books, I can’t help but think that’s more than a coincidence.

I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but having three separate storylines means that no single storyline has justice done to it. It feels more like Patterson and Paetro are writing outlines or storyboards and we’re supposed to fill in the gaps. Can it be a criticism when it’s something the authors are very obviously purposefully doing and having great success while doing it? Maybe the multiple storylines enable people to read in quick snippets, in the margins of life, and not think too deeply. That’s fine. Maybe I shouldn’t criticize the book for not being something it isn’t trying to be. Unlucky 13 is a fine entry into the Women’s Murder Club series. If you’ve enjoyed the series to this point, you’ll probably enjoy this one. And for all my complaining, I did enjoy a good part of this book.