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3rd Degree    by James Patterson & Andrew Gross order for
3rd Degree
by James Patterson
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Women's Murder Club has been growing on me through 1st to Die and Second Chance. So I opened 3rd Degree with trepidation, having read at that one of these engaging ladies was about to be done in by her creator. Which one? Not telling; you have to read it yourself.

San Francisco Police Department Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer is on a lonely jog with her dog Martha, when a home that she's admired for eons blows up. Hearing cries, she heroically enters the burning building and saves a boy. But it turns out that there was another child, his baby sister. What happened to her? A note at the scene credits the explosion to 'August Spies', who claims to be waging war on the 'powered class'. More hits follow on a three day schedule, with varied terror techniques and a disregard for collateral damage.

Of course, the Women's Murder Club swings into action - Claire on autopsies, Jill as Assistant DA, and reporter Cindy with her nose to what makes news. In fact, the terrorists make email contact with Cindy, threatening the G-8 Summit, to be held shortly afterwards in San Francisco. This increases the pressure on Lindsay to find the radicals. But as usual, in a Patterson thriller, there are layers of puppeteers pulling strings, and the reader soon wonders about the motives, and objectives of the individuals who cynically manipulate naive young people, relying on the fact that 'there's always another soldier.'

Adding a human dimension to the story, one of the Murder Club ladies has a serious marital problem, and romance is in the air (mostly on airplanes in fact) for Lindsay with Joe Molinari, Deputy Director of the Department of Homeland Security. Then one of the four disappears and the others frantically delve into history, and desperately follow leads as the G-8 deadline approaches. It arrives with a blast, a crescendo of action and Boxer heroics, that makes a satisfying ending to this third episode in an addicting series.

Women's Murder Club fans will be thrilled by 3rd Degree and look forward to the next episode with eager anticipation ... now I wonder if there'll be a replacement to bring the ladies' numbers back up to four again?

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