Much lauded and popular author James Patterson teams up again with coauthor Andrew Gross for the third installment in the Women's Murder Club crime mystery series. Heroine San Francisco Homicide Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer incorporates the information and skills of her friends Claire, Jill and Cindy--the Chief Medical Examiner, an Assistant District Attorney, a crime reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle--to crack a serial murder case so diabolical that FBI agents and the Deputy Director of Homeland Security are hot on the same trail as Lindsay is.
Patterson's plot is heavy on action, sprinkled with subplot, and liberally laced with evil deeds, all of which resonate with the social issues of contemporary times, as is true of the terrorism aimed at the G-8 summit meeting, which the plot revolves around. In a genre that is governed by word-count and driven by plot events, Andrew Gross does an acceptable job of providing life-details for each character, which suggest a rough sketch of the people they are, but the interest of the novel is the plot that Patterson developed.
James Patterson, born in 1947, received his B. A. degree from Manhattan College and began a Master of English degree from Vanderbilt University. After one year of a two-year master's program, Patterson took a job in 1971 as a copywriter at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in New York. While with the Thompson Agency, Patterson rose to become CEO of the North American division while also publishing several novels, including his first, The Thomas Berryman Number, in 1976, five years into his advertising career.
3rd Degree -- A Summary
3rd Degree is set in San Francisco, with two subplots revolving around Jill and Lindsay. Homicide Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer is jogging in one of her favorite spots with Jill, her friend and an Assistant D.A., when she notices strange bruises on Jill shoulder, introducing the subplot centering on Jill's marriage. After Jill jogs off home with her dog Otis, Lindsay observes quiet, morning neighborhood activity, including a blond woman walking around a corner carrying a bundle of blankets.
Then Lindsay sees a house she always admires get blown to bits. Acting heroically, she runs into the flaming blast area to see if anyone is trapped in there. She sees two dead bodies and a boy who has survived and is hiding in bedroom. Carrying him out and calling for help because she is becoming overwhelmed by the smoke, a fireman sees her, takes the boy and guides them both out. A third body is found. A backpack is thought to hold a bomb. The Fire Chief determines the explosion to have been caused by a bomb. The terrorism plot is introduced.
The victims and house owners were influential and prominent citizens, Morton and Charlotte Lightower. Lightower is the powerful head of an important San Francisco corporation. In the fray following the disaster, it is discovered that the Lightower infant was kidnapped, and Lindsay realizes the kidnapper was the blond she saw turning the corner, because she never came back. Searching for the baby and the au pair is integral to solving the growing mystery of the other deaths that follow the Lightowers's deaths. Because of emails Cindy--Lindsay's friend and a newspaper crime reporter--receives, it is known that the group responsible is fighting against corporate injustice, has infiltrated all levels of corporate and political organizations, and is called August Spies.
Lindsay learns that the FBI and Homeland Security are concerned in the case. The subplot of her new romance is introduced when she meets Deputy Director of Homeland Security, Joe Molinari, and the two of them hit it off during the course of their closely coordinated investigation. After multiple deaths from bombings and from chemical weapon agents, the final confrontation comes at a G-8 summit hosted in San Francisco where August Spies is targeting the Vice President of the United States.
Following all the leads that develop, Lindsay traces the terrorism to Charles Danko, now teaching at a local college under an assumed name, who has been plotting revenge for his brother's death fifteen years earlier. In the midst of the investigation, first, Jill breaks up her marriage because of her husband's abuses, then, is targeted and killed by August Spies because of her father's involvement in Danko's brother's prosecution.
Recognizing Danko from her interviews with his father, Lindsay spots Danko at the G-8 summit. Though she and Molinari pursue Danko, Vice President Neal is shot. Lindsay and Molinari do succeed in capturing one of the collaborators in August Spies and get full details of the G-8 bombing plot from her. Lindsay corners Danko. They struggle. Lindsay is injured, but Danko is captured. The bomb is located and disabled. The G-8 summit is safe. Vice President Neal will recover.
In the final moments of the novel, Molinari--after making a gentlemanly and gallant exist from Lindsay's hospital room--is about to fly back to Washington D. C. when suddenly Lindsay interferes with his flight plans and tells him the truth about how she feels about him. In response to her overture of love and romance, Joe kisses her "right there in the skyway."