1st to Die: The Women's Murder Club, book 1

1st to Die: The Women’s Murder Club, Book 1




What do you get when a detective, a journalist, a medical examiner and an assistant DA, united by a common desire to succeed in male dominated professions, get together for drinks? You get the beginnings of an action packed crime thriller series.


Four women – four friends – share a determination to stop a killer who has been stalking newlyweds in San Francisco. Each one holds a piece of the puzzle: Lindsay Boxer is a homicide inspector in the San Francisco Police Department, Claire Washburn is a medical examiner, Jill Bernhardt is an assistant D.A., and Cindy Thomas just started working the crime desk of the San Francisco Chronicle.

But the usual procedures aren’t bringing them any closer to stopping the killings. So these women form a Women’s Murder Club to collaborate outside the box and pursue the case by sidestepping their bosses and giving one another a hand.

1st to Die is the start of a blazingly fast-paced and sensationally entertaining new series of crime thrillers.
©2001 by James Patterson; All Rights Reserved; (P)2001 by Time Warner AudioBooks


San Francisco detective Lindsay Boxer is sent to investigate the murder of a pair of newlyweds. This case hits Boxer in a way that other cases up to that point have not. Along the way, she encounters a new reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle named Cindy Thomas and receives help from medical examiner Claire Washburn and assistant District Attorney Jill Bernhardt. The four women, all striving to succeed in male dominated professions, form a bond and vow to meet to discuss the case without the burdens of politics and agendas. Thus, the Women’s Murder Club is born.
Lindsay Boxer is the main character of the story. As the detective, it is her job to put all of the clues together to form a coherent picture. She relies on her friends for ideas and to use their resources to help gather further evidence. However, Boxer did not end up being my favorite character.
The honor of my favorite member of the Women’s Murder Club goes to Cindy Thomas. The chronicle reporter demonstrates a cleverness and resourcefulness that makes her instantly formidable. I thought she faded too far into the background during the climax of the story.
Lindsay Boxer is also the focus of the book’s subplot. Early in the story she is diagnosed with a rare blood disease called Negli’s aplastic anemia. She is also given a new partner from City Hall named Chris Raleigh, whom she eventually has a romantic relationship with. I feel that these plots are woven into the story to allow the reader to take a break from the real action of the chase for the Newlywed Killer. The book kept me guessing throughout. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, something else came up to throw me off.
The other highlight of the novel is the interaction between the women when they are together. The developing friendship did not feel at all forced because of what the women all had in common. The affection that Lindsay and Claire in particular demonstrate for one another feels quite genuine.


What can you really say about James Patterson at this point? He has his fans, several million of them if sales figures are to be believed, and of course he has his detractors. Patterson has the ability to make his audience care about his characters and invest themselves in the action taking place. This book is a series of twists and turns. The good news is that at the end, it all made sense.
The bad news is that he came close to having one twist too many at the end. The final twist that the book takes in the epilogue is interesting, but the story, in my opinion, would have been just as effective without it.


This is the only book in the Women’s Murder Club series that was narrated by Suzanne Torren. This is a bit sad as I thought she did a good job with her performance. In particular, I liked her reading of Cindy Thomas’ dialog. She put just the right amount of bubbly into the personality. I will have to keep her performance in mind as I hear future books in the series handled by different narrators.


The track is solidly produced. There are musical cues at the open and close of the track, and the level of volume is consistent throughout. If there is one issue, it is with the placement of the chapter stops. There are 8 chapter stops on the track, but they are placed in very random spots. Chapter One covered the first fifteen of the book’s chapters and the second chapter covered book chapters sixteen through thirty-two. There is seemingly no rhyme or reason for the placement. Perhaps this matches up with something on the original CD but I can’t say for sure.


After I read this book, I read Along Came a Spider which is the first book in Patterson’s Alex Cross series. Based on only reading the first book in each series, I prefer the Women’s Murder Club. I found the characters to be more well developed and the pace of the action to be a lot quicker.
This perhaps is a reflection of Patterson’s evolution as a writer. The books were released nearly eight years apart and a lot can change for an author in that time. Learning how to make the most out of a given scene and how to hammer home a point to your audience without having to repeat it a hundred times is an example. Not that you don’t also need to allow for a break to let the reader take in what they have just discovered in the story. I thought that was the purpose of the subplot involving Lindsay’s illness.
I look forward to spending more time with the Women’s Murder Club in the future.


Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
1st to Die: Women’s Murder Club, Book 1 James Patterson Suzanne Toren Hachette Audio Mystery & Thriller 05/08/2001 9 hours, 1 minutes 8.5/10


A copy of ‘1ST TO DIE: WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB, BOOK 1’ was purchased from Audible for review.