Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Review: 8TH CONFESSION by James Patterson

8TH CONFESSION by James Patterson (with Maxine Paetro)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

The eighth and latest instalment in Patterson’s popular Women’s Murder Club series starts with a bang, literally. A black-windowed school bus explodes on a busy San Francisco street, killing several innocent bystanders. Soon after a local hero in the homeless community is brutally murdered.

Reporter Cindy Thomas begins to investigate the murder of the ‘saint of the streets’, but her friend Detective Lindsay Boxer is quickly shifted by superiors to a ‘more important’ case involving a succession of glamorous local millionaires dying in unclear circumstances. If it’s murder, why is there no evidence? Once again the Women’s Murder Club – Thomas, Boxer, assistant district attorney Yuki Castellano, and medical examiner Claire Washburn – kicks into gear, seeking to solve both mysteries while juggling upheaval amongst their own professional and private lives.

Since co-opting co-authors to help accelerate his sales juggernaut, Patterson’s tales have become mixed, at best (but bestselling regardless) – often formulaic, and never really scaling the excitement heights of his earliest works. However, 8th Confession demonstrates something of a minor renaissance, at least in terms of his trademark page-turning plots. Fans of the series and readers looking for some quickly-read escapism – a hurtling whodunit sprinkled with the smallest smidgen of character development - will be well pleased.


What do you think of James Patterson? Do you enjoy his page-turners? Do you like the Women's Murder Club series? The Alex Cross series? Comments welcome.


  1. Thanks for the review. Your review is a nice balance of summary, critique and overall rating. It soiunds as though this one is at least less "cookie cutter" than some of his other books.

  2. It's funny going back and reading Patterson now - I read several of his earlier books when I was in high school/university, but then moved on to other authors (similar story with Patricia Cornwell)... I'm not sure how much the fact I liked the earlier Alex Cross books was to do with me being a neophyte crime reader (so not yet having something like Michael Connelly, Mark Billingham, or James lee Burke to compare them to in terms of density and substance), and how much it may have been to do with them being better than the later books...

  3. I've given up on Patterson I'm afraid - he's a brand name these days not an author. I never liked this series but did enjoy the early Alex Cross novels and a couple of his standalones but the last two things I read of his (a standalone called Sail and Cross # 7 or 8 - name escapes me) were both so dull and predictable (and in the case of the Cross a plot that got sillier by the chapter) that I give him a miss now. I also heard him interviewed a few months ago and thought him the most arrogant of individuals which made me even less tempted to pick up his books again. I'm sure my one-woman boycott is really damaging his bank balance :)

    Like you though I also think that my own growth as a crime fiction reader has something to do with my dismissing of Patterson - as I've incorporated a more diverse range of authors (lots of whom leave him for dust) into my reading I can recognise that some of the stuff I used to think was good was never that great to begin with.

  4. Not much, no, no and no.
    Before blogging/Amazon I used to be a compulsive joiner of book clubs. I'd get the special offer of 5 books for 1 p each, buy the minimum (eg 4), cancel, and rejoin next year. Hence I read quite a bit of early JP (as these 1p each deals) and quite liked the first few Alex Cross. But now - you could not pay me to read this computer-generated drivel.

    I thought your review was very good in terms of being readable, interesting etc, but probably too kind, based on the couple of women's murder club books I did read (the first two or three).

  5. I think you did a good job with the review considering the tight word count requirements.

    I listened to the audio book of the first Women's Murder Club book and it was pretty good, but that's the only one I've read.