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22 Seconds by James Patterson

When you first lay eyes on the cover of "22 Seconds" and notice another author credited beneath James Patterson, one wonders about each contributor's role in shaping the narrative. The cover boldly emblazons James Patterson's name in large font, with Maxine Paetro mentioned below it.


I’ll get into the story in a minute, but first, more about the authors.


Patterson and Paetro’s backstory reveals a longstanding acquaintance dating back to their days in the advertising world of 1970s New York City. Paetro's tenure as a recruiter and creative manager at various agencies overlapped with Patterson's stint at J. Walter Thompson. Their professional paths intertwined further in 2005 when they embarked on a prolific collaboration, marked by over a dozen joint ventures, including "4th of July" within the Women's Murder Club series.


Regardless of the precise division of labor in "22 Seconds," the novel is an entertaining police procedural. The title itself alludes to a pivotal shootout midway through the narrative. The book begins (and ends) with Cindy Thomas, a crime reporter working on a biography of a serial killer, Evan Burke. Cindy then disappears from the story, only to become involved in a case of a murdered little girl.


Central to the plot is Lindsay Boxer, a sergeant in the San Francisco Police Department, and her husband Joe, who serves as an FBI consultant. Their lives unfold against a backdrop of heightened tension fueled by fervent Second Amendment supporters protesting stringent gun laws in San Francisco. Toss in a killer targeting cops leaving the victim’s mouths stapled shut and notes reading “You Talk, You Die.”


The narrative introduces a diverse array of characters, some of whom seem connected to the unfolding crimes, while others remain enigmatic. Included are seemingly unrelated cases detracting from the coherence of the main storyline, leaving the reader questioning their significance.


While the prose is the quality one would expect, excessive detail occasionally bogs down the pacing, with mundane actions described in unnecessary granularity. Despite this, "22 Seconds" strikes a balance at 384 pages, culminating in a gripping finale. It’s a respectable addition to the police procedural genre.

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