The 6th Target
James Patterson

Grand Central Publishing
Jan. 8, 2008
Trade Paperback/400 pages
ISBN: 0-446179515
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". . . the dynamic for which Patterson is so well known seems to have waned a bit."

In The 6th Target, the sixth book in The Women’s Murder Club series by James Patterson, the dynamic for which the series is so well known seems to have waned a bit in his latest work.

The book opens with Fred Brinkley riding on a ferry in San Francisco Bay. He is plagued by “voices” in his head and fondles a Smith & Wesson Model 10. When the ferry docks, he succumbs to the voices and in a barrage of bullets, he murders four people and leaves one wounded, Chief Medical Examiner Claire Washburn, a member of the Murder Club.

Brinkley gives himself up, and turns out to be less mentally unbalanced than he appears in the beginning. During his murder trial, Fred's disturbed past and real motivations for his crimes come to the surface.

Meanwhile, in a parallel storyline, police lieutenant Lindsey Boxer gets permission to work the streets in a “well earned demotion” back to sergeant—not exactly what she wanted. Because she has done an outstanding job as head of homicide, the Chief figures getting back on the street is Lindsey's reward for good work. She, on the other hand, is shocked at the demotion. Her first case as the demoted Sergeant Boxer is a child kidnapping/homicide that turns out to be part of an international pedophile ring. In another storyline woven into the larger Brinkley plot, a series of attacks are occurring at the apartment complex where Cindy Thomas, another Murder Club member, lives.

In his first trial Brinkley is declared “legally insane,” after which he behaves amazingly normal. Several months later a man Brinkley injured eventually dies, having been shot by the sixth bullet–the one originally intended for Willie Washburn. Police now have a second chance to put the slippery sociopath in prison where he belongs.

Characteristic of Patterson's writing style, the book relies on heavy dialogue. However, the plodding trial scenes and many subplots slow the pacing. Though the timeline for the book spans several months, the minutes, hours and days pass more slowly.

When this reader compares The 6th Target to other Patterson books, the latest doesn't hold one's attention quite like earlier works.

Reviewer: Denise Lowe