th Seduction by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Little, Brown, and Co., 2017)
For those who love hard core suspense fiction, what could be better than a fast paced novel with a psychopathic villain? The answer is, a book with two psychopathic villains! And that is exactly what famed author, James Patterson, and his long-time writing partner, Maxine Paetro, have delivered in the exciting new thriller, 16th Seduction.
Yes, the ladies of the Women's Murder Club are back for another venture into solving crime. The novel opens with the seasoned San Francisco detective, Lindsay Boxer, on a stakeout with her partner, Rich Conklin. The pair has been assigned recently to the counter-terrorism task force investigating a high profile global terrorist group known as GAR, who have claimed responsibility for six brutal acts within a period of five days. While tracking a GAR operative known only as J., Lindsay wonders if she will ever see her beautiful two year old daughter, Julie again or whether her stressful job will cost her everything. But Boxer is used to living on the edge and the novel's prologue has an explosive ending, which serves as the segue into the plot of 16th Seduction itself.
While on a date with her estranged husband, Joe Molinari, himself a deputy director of Homeland Security and former FBI agent, Lindsay witnesses the shocking explosion of the Sci-Tron, a waterfront museum. With instincts and adrenalin flowing through their veins, Lindsay and Joe rush to the scene of the catastrophe. It is then that Lindsay notices “an anomaly,” a man who instead of running with the crowd fleeing from the violent scene, is standing still and smiling as he watches the aftermath of the blast.
Lindsay identifies herself as a police officer to the voyeur, and asks if he had witnessed the bombing. He introduces himself as “Connor Grant. Citizen, genius, artist par excellence” (p. 20) and uncannily takes responsibility for the catastrophe. He continues confessing to the detective, “Good job, don't you think? Did you see the entire display? A mushroom cloud? Oh, my God. It was better than I had even hoped. I'm awarding myself an A-plus with extra points for the sundown sky. You want to know why, and I say, 'Why ask why?' Beauty doesn't need a reason.” (p.20)
While Lindsay busies herself with securing Connor Grant into custody, Joe continues on to the site of destruction, and while desperately trying to free a woman pinned by debris, a second blast hits the Sci-Tron building, with Joe being caught in the maelstrom of destruction.
As if putting together the case against alleged bomber Connor Grant, a reportedly mild-mannered high school science teacher, isn't enough of a challenge, Lindsay is brought into another perplexing case by her closest pal, San Francisco's chief medical examiner, Dr. Claire Washburn. While conducting an autopsy on a forty year old woman who died of an apparent heart attack, Claire observes that the deceased had a very healthy heart. During a close examination of the body, Claire notes a puncture wound and bruise on the victim's left buttock. Claire confides to Lindsay, “Right now I'm calling her manner of death undetermined. But what I'm thinking is that this nice-looking lady was killed. That her death was a homicide.” (p.60)
Edward Lamborghini, known to the world as Neddie Lambo, has resided in the Hyde Street Psychiatric Center for most of his adult life. Thought to be autistic by the doctors in the “looney bin,” Neddie has had carte blanche to leave the facility and wander the streets of San Francisco for years. But Neddie imparts his secrets to his friend, Mikey, that before coming to Hyde Street, when he was only a child of seven, Neddie had murdered his four year old sister, Vicky. Mikey repeated Neddie's tale, “You cut off her hair. And her fingers. And you stuffed her fingers into all of her bodily cabbities.” (p. 240)
16th Seduction is the tale of two psychopaths, different m.o.'s, but one commonality between them. Both men are chameleons, who can wander through society immune to detection. Connor Grant is adept at altering identities, creating chaos and havoc in one state, and then moving on to another, taking on a new persona each time he moves. Neddie Lambo has learned that there is value in “being a dummy.” Despite his odd stature and deformed arms, Neddie can move through hoards of people, seemingly unseen in his pathetic ignominy.
Can Lindsay Boxer with the aid of her gal pals, prosecutor Yuki Castellano, news reporter Cindy Thomas, and medical examiner, Claire Washburn put the pieces together and bring safety and security back to the city by the bay? 16th Seduction heats up each page with continual fast-paced action, upping the bar for Boxer as she struggles to get justice for the innocent victims of mad men, and harmony and peace in her personal life. As always with a Patterson/Paetro thriller, 16th Seduction is a wild and fabulous ride.