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83 of 87 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 9, 2001
Author James Patterson gives book series psychologist cop Alex Cross a breather and lets four professional women, dubbed the 'Women's Murder Club,' track down a psycho killer of newlyweds. Led by homicide inspector Lindsay Boxer, the women (a reporter, a medical examiner and an assistant district attorney) leverage their respective expertise to decipher the clues of the gruesome nuptial slayings. The ad hoc women's club also becomes a support group for each other on issues of work, family, romance and illness. Lindsay Boxer, in particular, battles to balance a blood illness, a new beau, and her passion to solve the murders.
When the case is finally nailed down to the Club's satisfaction, it becomes unglued as Lindsay becomes unsure as to the real killer. Another search for the truth leads to a surprise ending, as well as to the meaning of the novel's title.
The author's risk to try something new seems to have succeeded in this novel. The 'Club' characters are likeable, enduring and memorable, just as those in the Alex Cross episodes. Maybe a strong '2cd' book series from James Patterson will benefit the '1st' series by keeping it fresh and novel.
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62 of 68 people found the following review helpful
After being terribly disappointed with James Patterson's Beach House, I immediately begin his First to Die. I'm happy to report that this book is more of what we should expect from a best-selling author. First to Die is the first book in his Women's Murder Club series, of which there are now four.

First to Die is written mainly in the voice of Lindsey Boxer. Boxer is a homicide detective for the San Francisco Police Department. When a newlywed couple is found brutally murdered just hours after their wedding (still attired in wedding regalia), Boxer is put on the case. Two other couples are also murdered, but one is in Napa and the other in Cleveland. Boxer is unsure whether there is a serial killer at work as even the methods of murder are different. But it is up to her to try to find the common denominator.

Boxer's best friend is San Francisco medical examiner Claire Washburn. The two of them befriend a crime reporter from the Chronicle, Cindy Thomas, and an assistant DA, Jill Bernhardt. Together, they dub themselves the Women's Murder Club. When the case seems to be going nowhere, the various women use their skills to crack open the case, a little at a time.

This book will take you on a roller coaster ride from start to finish. And even when it seems that Boxer has the case all wrapped up, there is still one more twisting turn at the very end. My only regret is that I started this series with book three, Third Degree.
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75 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2001
The killer wonders "What is the worst thing anyone has ever done?", as he sets out to do worse.
San Francisco homicide investigator, Lindsay Boxer, is called to the most disturbing crime scene, a young couple has been murdered on their wedding night, the bride still in her wedding gown. This horrifying scene lays heavy in Lindsay's mind.
As the investigation begins, another murder is committed, again another young couple on their wedding night. Lindsay knows she is up against a sick serial killer preying on newlyweds.
As the official investigation is leading nowhere, Lindsay teams up with the medical examiner on the case, who also happens to be her friend, to begin their own investigation of these murders. The two women enlist the help of an investigative reporter, and the assistant D.A. to form the women's murder club. The women will meet and discuss how they are going to stop this killer, using the information obtained through the official investigation.
The search brings the women to their first, and only suspect...a bestselling author whose first un-published novel depicts each of the murders in detail.
With no concrete evidence to pin the murders on the author, the women will be lead on a wild chase to find the killer.
Twist and turns keep things spinning out of control, until the final shocking realization of who the killer is!
"1st To Die" is the first novel in a brand new series, and what a great novel it is. The plot races along, combining the murders, devistating health issues for Lindsay, and some romance, twisting and turning all the way to the shocking the conclusion.
James Patterson uses all the key elements used in his Alex Cross series, so fans of that series will not be disappointed with this new book. I read this book in one-sitting, it is THAT GOOD!
James Patterson is THE master of creating up-all-night reads, and his new book "1st To Die" is another masterpiece in a long line of great books.
A MUST read!
Nick Gonnella
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2002
All I can say is wow. I read this book over the course of two days this summer, and I was more disappointed about it than any book I have read in a long time.
Now, I normally really enjoy James Patterson. I've read quite a few of his novels, and usually enjoy them immensely. So when I started reading this book, I did not immediately put it down, as I would have if it were an author I was unfamiliar with. I kept reading, knowing that it would get better.
Boy, was I wrong.
This book reads like a first draft by a high school creative writing student who is taking the class simply because it is required to graduate. Yes, it is that bad.
While there are a few good plot twists, and I like the general idea of the story, perhaps Mr. Patterson should have spent a little more time developing it. The characters are thin, the story is at best highly unbelievable in several aspects, and characters die that have no reason to. OK, fine, I can handle it when a few main characters die. I'm a huge fan of Stephen King, an author guaranteed not to let everyone out alive. But at some point you have to say to yourself, "ok, this is going a little too far." Even if you suspend reality enough to accept that parts of the plot could occur, you will probably want to throw the book across the room when you get to the last pages. I know I did.
You're probably saying to yourself "it can't be all that bad, right?" Well, let me tell you exactly how disappointed I was: this is probably the last James Patterson novel I will ever read.
Take my advice and go for a really good cop book like Plum Island or The Lion's Game by Nelson DeMille. I think you'll be glad you did.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2002
The book starts out like the main characters and wonder where it is going. Then you get to 3/4 of the way through --
1. Did the author forget about the scenes he wrote about the killer in the beginning? (his end just does not fit and was directly contradictory to the chapters he wrote in the beginning)
2. Did he find a likeable male lead just didn't fit the mold of the "Women's Murder Club"? That must be the case because he killed off a likeable main character with no reason or advancement to the plot.
Rarely have I read a book where it was so obvious that the author was having trouble making his deadline. It's a shame because the promise of an excellent book was there. Hence, the only thing I felt at the end of this book was anger.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2001
The book opens with the heroine kissing her service revolver - contemplating a lead dinner. The melodrama of this opening scene sets the tone for the hysterical drama of this book.
It looked to me as if the author wanted to steal the theme from every successful novel and weave them into one densely dramatic novel. He has the "bravely facing a terminal illness" story line combined with the "female bonding/solidarity" theme the "multiple twist" plot, and the current "forensic science" craze. And to Mr. Patterson's credit, the reviews of this book seem to label his conglomeration a commercial success. However, I remain unimpressed.
I think my disenfranchisement was enhanced by Mr. Patterson's descriptions of the murder scenes. His images were starkly and vividly black. I found them gruesome and disturbing. I am not a fragile or a squeamish person, but I also don't intend to fill my brain with scenes of spectacular evil.
This book was filled with sharp implausible plot twists and hackneyed female bonding scenes making it entirely forgettable. I hope that I soon will.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2002
Everything I have read by James Patterson has great plots but horrible dialogue. Mr. Patterson seems only to be able to write in very short sentences with excessive use of "!" (exclamation mark) after every 2nd & 3rd sentence. He has brillant and exceptional plots. Very exciting. I just am no longer willing to put up with the inability to write complex sentences. Thank you
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2002
I expected this book to be a suspenseful, entertaining read. I also expected, given Mr. Patterson's reputation, that it would be a well-plotted and well-written book. I was enormously disappointed. At the very least, when I finish a suspense book, I expect to know exactly who the killer is and why the killer did it. Mr. Patterson gives a confused and thoroughly unbelievable conclusion to an unconvincing story. The plot holes are troublesome, too. (Example: who IS the character in Chapter 17?) I don't like the presentation of many of the women in this book, and I find them implausible, too. I was looking forward to this series. Given the weakness of this first entry, however, from its gimmicky open to its confusing close, it's the last in the series for me.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2001
If you liked James Patterson's previous *non* Alex Cross novels, you will probably enjoy "1st To Die" as well. I enjoyed reading it, although there were several occasions where I needed to forgive some less-than-stellar writing to continue on to the good stuff. If you are easily annoyed by a paragraph or two that pull you out of the story and remind you that you're reading a book that isn't perfect, then I'd advise against this novel.
My concerns center around Patterson's inability to write a woman in certain situations. This is obviously important in "1st To Die", since the protagonist is a woman. In typical Patterson style, the fast paced and suspensful portions of the novel are top notch. However, both in the love scenes and particularly when Lindsay is first person narrarating her time spent home alone, it seems like Patterson is trying way too hard, and it comes across as cliche'd. While I don't doubt that a female homocide detective might occasionally go home, put on some Sarah McLachlan, change into comfy clothes, prepare herself a nice meal while enjoying a glass of Chardonnay, and then snuggle on the couch with her big furry dog, it reads like Patterson is just desperately trying to convince you that the narrarator is a woman.
As I said, I enjoyed the book. Like most Patterson novels, it's a very quick read, in part because the suspense gets you reading faster, and in part because -- well -- Patterson doesn't exactly use a lot of "big words". Which is fine if you're looking for a quick book to read on a plane.
Worth a read if you're a bit forgiving, but perhaps worth waiting for the paperback price.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2001
This is the first time I read James Patterson and I am not impressed. The characters are one dimensional and the plot is too easy to guess. If you think this book is a police-investigation procedural, you will be in for a nasty surprise. Although there are police procedural aspect in this book, it is sloppy and it does not drive the story. Patterson relies on contrived, melodramatic of conflicts/interactions between the dying heroine, her prince charming, her loyal friends, and the red beard evil advisary to drive the story. Standard recipe for a typical soap-opera episode... In short, there is nothing exciting about this book. Patterson likes to use adjectives in front of his nouns to get us to "feel" for his characters; he even italicizes them often as if begging us or commanding us to emphatize with them and to get excited about the story...
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