Monday, May 31, 2010

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Thirty-Three

Day 33, Chapter 33
What better way is there to observe Memorial Day than by reading a 367-word chapter about the Iraq War in a James Patterson novel? (Seriously, what are the chances?)

It turns out that Pete "WCF" Gordon was an Army Captain in Iraq - he saw some horrible shit, his friend Kenny ("a good American son and soldier") got killed, so now Pete is murdering mothers and their children in the United States. Makes perfect sense to me.

What else can I say to that?  Like the man himself, I'm keeping today's chapter short and concise. Enjoy your Memorial Day.

Go to Day 34.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Thirty-Two

Day 32, Chapter 32
A shorty today - it barely covers 2 pieces of paper - but it's a good one. Well, "good" for my sinister purposes anyway. Pete Gordon, the elusive WCF killer, is on the prowl for another pair of victims. He's "hunting along the Embarcadero" when he picks out a woman who seems to suit his taste:
...a reed thin blonde wearing a hooded black Windbreaker over her long black skirt, her clothes billowing and snapping in the breeze. Made him think of a woman in a burka.
Alright, a little odd, maybe, to think of a burka, but not enough to raise any alarms, I guess. He follows this woman as she pushes her baby stroller toward the BART station, all the while, he's clutching his pistol in his pocket. (Not a euphemism.) He shouts out to her, "Miss? Ma'am?" three times before she turns around. He claims to be lost and in need of directions.
The woman stared at him and said, "I can't help you," and pushed the stroller out from the arch toward the entrance to the underground.
"Hey, thanks, lady!" Pete yelled out. "I appreciate the fucking time of day."
Then, the proverbial bomb gets dropped: (not a "smart bomb," by the way)
It hadn't been this way in Iraq. And he wouldn't mess up here.
He was steady. He was focused. He had a mission.
And he would accomplish it.
So there it is. Iraq War vet returns home to kill women and children on the streets of San Francisco. Is this going to be an anti-war theme? Or a pro-war theme? Only time will tell.
Go to Day 33.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ride on, Easy

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Thirty-One

Day 31, Chapter 31
This morning I had a vague recollection of there being a James Patterson TV series a few years ago - not that I ever watched it, mind you, I just remembered seeing commercials for one. Or maybe I was just remembering those television commercials for his books - sometimes you can catch those on crappy channels you're embarrassed to admit to watching. You know what I'm talking about, Lifetime watchers.

Anyway, it turns out that Women's Murder Club, starring Angie Harmon as Detective Lindsay Boxer, ran on ABC from October 2007 - May 2008. The show struggled in the ratings - especially since it ran during the Writers Guild strike, which couldn't have helped the scripts - and was cancelled after 13 episodes. Critic Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, at the time, that "When you hear the bad writing, see the embarrassing character portrayals and suffer through the agonizing 45 minutes...you'll want to sew your eyes shut."  So it's better than the books?

Another revelation that came out of my early morning Google searching, was that Yuki Castellano - star of Chapter 31, among others - is not a founding member of the Women's Murder Club. She is a replacement for Assistant District Attorney, Jill Bernhardt, who was killed off in The 3rd Degree. (Yuki did not make it to the TV series, which is how I noticed.) I think television audiences were missing out, as proven by today's reading:
Yuki hugged the tanned, graceful woman who opened the door.
"God, it's been what, six years? You look the same!" Sue Emdin said to Yuki, the whole time looking at her like Gee, I haven't heard from you since graduation, so what's this about?
Yuki is visiting this Sue Emdin because she was close friends with Casey Dowling - if you recall, from Chapter 14, Yuki also went to law school with Casey, so she's taking a serious, somewhat personal approach to the case. Although, Yuki is just a criminal prosecutor, so I'm not sure in what capacity she's interviewing people about an ongoing murder investigation. I assume Patterson knows what he's doing, so I'm just gonna go with it.
"Understand, both Marc and Casey are my friends," Sue said. "I don't want to say anything behind Marc's back."
"I do understand, and right now, this is between us," Yuki said. "If you know something, you have to tell me, and you have to let me use my judgment. You'd expect the same from me."
Yuki Castellano, you manipulative little bitch! You haven't talked to this lady in six years, and you show up at her house, drink her iced tea, eat her cookies, and guilt her into gossiping about her dead friend's marriage problems?
"Between you and me, Casey told me that she thought Marcus was having an affair. There. I said it."
"Did she have proof? Did she suspect someone in particular? Did she confront Marcus?"
"Slow down. One question at a time," Sue said.
"Sorry. Backing up, now. Did Casey have any proof that Marcus was screwing around?"
"No, but she was suspicious. Marc's always been a letch. He put his hand on my butt once or twice. Hell, he's a movie star. But Casey said, and I quote, 'He's gone off me.' Meaning he didn't have the hots for her anymore. That's all the proof she had - none - and at the same time, she was alarmed."
As funny as it is, I'm really starting to think that part of my brain is dying from reading and analyzing the dialogue from this book. For the last two years, I've been a freelance reviewer/judge for Publisher's Weekly and the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and this is what the dialogue is like in 90% of the manuscripts I've been assigned. Remember, these are unpublished, raw manuscripts by first time novelists without multi-million dollar book deals, full editing staffs, and fawning co-authors. The part of Patterson that used to care about the craft of writing should be embarrassed to put this crap out there, but instead, he just counts the cash and cranks out the next book, all under the bullshit assumption that "this is what people like to read." I just think his readers are all brainwashed into thinking that this is quality, acceptable entertainment. It makes me sick.
"She told me that if she found out he was cheating, she'd leave him."
"When did she say that?"
"Tuesday night."
"Sue, Casey was killed on Wednesday."
"Look somewhere else, Yuki. Trust me on this. It was that cat burgler. Marcus didn't do it."
Sigh. Commercial break.
Go to Day 32.

Friday, May 28, 2010

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Thirty

Day 30, Chapter 30
It's hard coming up with something clever to write every day, you know. I'm bound to have a day of writer's block from time to time if the day's chapter is too straight forward & lacking enough poorly constructed sentences. As Luke says to Yoda, "You want the impossible." Then again, Yoda throws it back in his face after he lifts the X-wing fighter out of the swamp with his eyes closed. Wait, what was I talking about?

Chapter 30 is one of those straight forward chapters - lacking any of the shocking Patterson color that we've become so accustomed to. Lindsay and Conklin, continuing their streak of actual work days, visit Ernie Cooper's pawnshop to ask about the jewelry that Hello Kitty stole from the Dowlings. Apparently, the yellow diamond that Sarah (aka Hello Kitty) wants to keep & turn into a necklace to match her TJ Maxx outfits, is worth over a million dollars. There's a little more blah-blah-blah about the "fence" that would have handled the movement of such a large diamond, had he not died recently. (In one of Sarah's chapters this comes up, but I can't remember if I mentioned it here. Whatever.) Then, Ernie Cooper, long-haired, ex-cop pawnshop owner, has a revelation to close out the chapter - ala David Caruso:
"You know," Cooper said, "if your Hello Kitty was using Green to fence his goods, he may be stuck with this million-dollar chunk of yellow ice for a while. Could be your cat's up a tree, doesn't know how to get down."
Yeaaaaaaaaaah!! Commercial.

On an unhappy side note, I spilled a little orange juice on page 102 of my borrowed copy of The 9th Judgment this morning, so now I have to buy this piece of crap.  This thing costs $27.99, are you frickin' kidding me?!
Go to Day 31.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Twenty-Nine

Day 29, Chapter 29
Eight chapters and 23 pages ago was the last time Detective Lindsay Boxer did any detecting. Or anything related to police work. In the interim, characters in The 9th Judgment have ingested a crab salad, plantain chips, instant mashed potatoes, a chicken-fried steak, garlic bread, a bowl of cereal, several beers, a glass of champagne, and a bottle of wine. Also, seven people have had sex with each other in that span - and one of them had sex with 2 different people. I think we're all caught up.

After sufficiently getting their rocks off, Lindsay and her crack squad are back at work in Chapter 29. But today, there's a new dude sitting in the room during their meeting....
I noticed the stranger sitting in a metal chair in the corner: suntanned white male, midthirties, narrow blue eyes, sun-bleached blond hair pulled back and knotted with a rubber band. He was maybe five ten, 160 pounds, and he looked buff from the way his blazer stretched across his biceps.
This guy was a cop. A cop I didn't know. 
Super-sexy Sergeant Jack Brady, transfer from Miami PD. Let's get this party started! The rest of the team gives their reports - nobody has anything on any of their cases. Worst detectives ever. How are they not asking more questions of Marcus Dowling? The guy's all over the TV, blathering on about his wife - wouldn't that make the cops a little suspicious? Especially if he was the only confirmed person in the house when his wife was killed? He's even on TV in this scene - and only the awesome Jack Brady notices. I hope he talks like David Caruso on CSI: Miami.
"The more they talk, the less I believe them," Brady said, jutting his chin toward the images of Dowling.
"We've been working the case for a few days," I said. "We're just getting our teeth into it."
"I heard your report, Sergeant," Brady said. "You don't have a clue."
YEAH! Cue the Who song, cut to commercial.
Go to Day 30.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Twenty-Eight

Day 28, Chapter 28
James Patterson: "Maxine, how many days has it been since you...we...I wrote an erotically charged lesbian scene?"
Maxine Paetro, co-author: "Um, I believe the last one was Chapter 17, Mr. Patterson. Eleven days."
Patterson: "Well?"
Maxine: "Uh, okay. Any characters in partic...."
Patterson: "SILENCE! WRITE!"
Guess what Chapter 28 is about? Take a deep breath...
Heidi undressed Sarah, carefully undid the oversize shirt one slow button at a time, unzipped the low-riding jeans, marveled as she ran her hands over Sarah's lean runner's body. Sarah was so strong.
"Your body is the next best thing to having a body like this myself," Heidi said.
"You're perfect. I love everything about you."
"That was my line. Get into the bed, now. Go on."
Do you think he meant to write, "Looking at your body is the next best thing to having a body like this myself"? Or perhaps, "Touching your body..."?  And do you think he just said, out loud, while Maxine Paetro was diligently taking dictation, "Sarah was so strong" and Paetro just assumed that the line was supposed to go into the book?  I just don't get it. In fact, there is pretty much nothing about Chapter 28 (or any other, really) that I do get. Do people talk to each other like this and I've just never realized it? It's not just the dialogue, obviously, but there must be something about his style of hacked up, choppy sentences that people can relate to on some level. Has everyone just gone stupid? Maybe it's mind control. Three of the last five chapters have been primarily about sex. Maybe that's it.

The deal in Chapter 28 is that Sarah and Heidi (her co-worker from Chapter 17) are actually secret lovers. Heidi has a couple of of kids and a husband who, presumably, doesn't know that Heidi has taken a lady into her bed. The two women are planning on running away together (with Heidi's kids, of course. What kind of animals do you think they are?) and fantasize, in bed together, about the places they plan on running away to. Tonight it's Palau.
"All right then. To life in Palau," Heidi said, touching Sarah's glass with hers. They sipped and kissed with their eyes open, then the glasses were put aside and they reached for each other, Heidi listening to the baby monitor, Sarah with an eye to the window, fear driving their passion into high gear. As Heidi stripped off Sarah's panties...
All right, all right, Patterson.  Jesus.
Go to Day 29.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Twenty-Seven

Day 27, Chapter 27
Part Two: Showtime
Sarah Wells, aka: Hello Kitty the Cat Burgler, is cooking chicken-fried steak for her husband, Trevor, while watching Marcus Dowling lie about the death of his wife on a television talk show. Who cares about Marcus Dowling - Trevor is turning out to be a classic of modern American literature - check this out:

Trevor came into the kitchen, opened the fridge, and bent to take out a beer, his girth falling over the waistband of his underwear. He popped the top, took a swig of Bud, then walked behind his wife and grabbed her ass.

"Hey," she said, moving out of his reach.
"What's with you?"
"Here," she said, handing him the tongs. "Take over, okay?"
"Where're you going?"
"I've had a tough day, Trev."
"You ought to see a doctor, you know."
"Shut up."
"Because you're on the rag all the time."

Wow. Got a nice visual image of Trevor in your head now? Tighty-whiteys, enormous stomach, swigging Budweiser, verbally abusive. (I've provided a picture, in case you missed it.) Trevor finishes cooking the steak for himself & serves Sarah a bowl of Cheerios. Sarah apologizes for "snapping" at him. Trevor proposes that they have sexual relations later. Scene.

I can see why Part Two is called "Showtime".



In an unrelated story...it's Towel Day today - in honor of the late Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide the the Galaxy, fans carry their towels with them at all times.  "A towel...is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with."  I, for one, use my towel to wipe the tears from my face after reading my daily installment of JPatt. Or to stuff in my mouth to keep from screaming.
Go to Day 28.

Monday, May 24, 2010

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Twenty-Six

Day 26, Chapter 26
What's better than reading and writing about a chapter in a James Patterson novel every day? Having to recreate what you've just spent 45 minutes writing because you've somehow deleted the post you've been working on. Woo-hoo for that.

There's not that much inherently wrong with today's chapter - it's basically just a scene of Lindsay in bed with her boyfriend, Joe. There are no frickin's, (well, there is a little frickin', if you know what I mean) no real dialogue, just a sex scene and Lindsay's thoughts of WCF, "that goddamned baby-killing psycho". 
Go to Day 27.
The insidious lipstick letters - the clue that led to nothing - were like the freight train heading toward the house when there was no place to run.
I did learn a few things though:
  • Joe has one of those alarm clocks that projects the time onto the wall or the ceiling. I totally wanted one of those when I was 12.
  • Lindsay has a dog named Martha.
  • There are still two detectives scouring the phonebook for people with the initials WCF. As was pointed out in the comments from Day 20, the phonebook is conveniently alphabetized, so....
  • Lindsay's old apartment burned down. I presume that this was featured in one of the other eight "Women's Murder Club" novels.
  • I'm pretty sure Martha watches Lindsay have sex with Joe. "She put her snoot on the mattress, pinned me with her gorgeous brown eyes, and started thumping her tail."
So life is pretty good right now for Detective Lindsay Boxer - a good man, a nice house, a dog, a sweet alarm clock.

So what was nagging me from a cul-de-sac in my mind?
Thus the curtain falls on Part One of James Patterson's The 9th Judgment. Tune in tomorrow for the next chapter from Part Two: Showtime.
Go to Day 27.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Twenty-Five

Day 25, Chapter 25
Let's start Day 25 with the opening sequence to the chapter - Pete Gordon, the WCF murderer, at home in his kitchen:
Pete Gordon was standing in the kitchen, whipping up some instant mashed potatoes on the stove while watching the baseball game on the undercabinet TV, when his wife came through the door.
"Whatcha burning?" she asked.
"Listen, princess, I don't need your frickin' cooking tips, and now you made me miss that pitch."
Nice. I was needing a good "frickin'" for my Sunday morning. By the way, Urban Dictionary claims that "Frickin'" is "a Southern or Midwestern slang word used to express excitement or distainment without using profanity." It's also used as "an alternative for those of us too classy to use the word 'fucking'". Just keep that in mind.
"Sorry Mr. Cranky. I'm just saying you could save that if you put a little milk in it and turned down the flame."
"For Christ's sake," Pete said, switching off the gas, scraping the potatoes into a bowl. "You just can't let me have a single simple pleasure, can you?"
Alright, I know the point here is to show the reader that Pete Gordon is an unstable potential serial killer, but even his wife's not buying his tough guy act. While he screams at the baseball game on TV and burns his mouth on the potatoes, she tells him that her aunt wants to take their family out to dinner the following night.
"Yippee. Sounds like fun. Your fat-assed aunt and all of us around a table at the Olive Garden."
O-o-o-o-o-o-h! Her reaction? She turns off his television, takes the remote away, and puts it in the garbage disposal. "Oh snap", as they say.
"Go to hell, Petey," she said as the machine gnawed on the plastic. "No, I really mean it." Pete shut off the grinder and watching his fucking wife flounce out of the room.
No frickin' way: an F-bomb? Now I know Pete's unstable! That is quality writing right there - leaving no doubt that Pete is a force to be frickin' reckoned with.
He was going to get her.
He was going to get her and Sherry and the stink bomb one day really soon.
WCF, people. Wait for it.
I will wait for it - I've got nowhere else to be.
Go to Day 26.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Twenty-Four

Day 24, Chapter 24
Cindy's blouse was a cloud of silk chiffon in the rear foot well of Rich Conklin's car. Her skirt was rolled up to her waist, and her panty hose dangled from one foot. She was damned uncomfortable, but she wouldn't change a thing.
Chapter Twenty-Four is a parked car, alleyway sex scene between Cindy and Conklin and while it's bad, it's not that bad. Check out the Literary Review's annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award for truly bad. (Most of the LR's victims are well respected literary authors who just can't seem to get certain things right - John Updike received a lifetime achievement award in 2008, for example.)  For Patterson, a quickie in the backseat of a car fits right into his formula of fast paced, poorly constructed short chapters with sprinklings of violence and inane internal monologues. Its like late-night Cinemax. He even wrote (well, co-wrote) a book called The Quickie in 2007 - this is a man who knows his way around the gearshift, if you know what I mean.
"You are so witchy, Cin, and I mean that in the nicest possible way."
Right.  How do you "review" a chapter like this?
She slid up and away from him, and he put his hands around her waist and pulled her down on him, hard.
"You drive me crazy, Cin."
Cindy closes things out by asking Conklin if he's ever "done it" with his partner, Lindsay. I mean, she's still sitting on top of him - awkward.  I suppose I'm supposed to care that his denial is a little vague, but I don't. Do whatever (or whoever) you want, dude, let's just move on, hard.
Go to Day 25.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Matterhorn

As a method of catharsis, perhaps, or just as a way to break things up a little bit, I just need to get a few words down about a book I've recently finished that was not written (or co-written) by James Patterson:  Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes. Balancing my Patterson social experiment with a Vietnam novel proved to be...relaxing, actually.

That's not true, really, but Matterhorn is pretty incredible, nonetheless.

It a novel that highlights the utter futility, stupidity, and frustration that permeates modern warfare. It's the story of a company of Marines, entrenched in the jungle of Vietnam, forced to protect, defend, abandon, attack, and hold a supposedly strategically significant mountain that rises above the treeline just south of the DMZ. These men fight, kill, and often die, at the whim of an alcoholic, glory-seeking Battalion Commander who watches and criticizes from afar. It is raw, yet elegant - powerful, yet humble; a remarkable book that forces a fresh perspective on a sad chapter in American history.

I was born in 1975 - a month and a half after Saigon fell - so there's always been a bit of a mystique surrounding Vietnam for me, as one brought into life just as so many were exiting theirs. It has been a war that has left its indelible stamp on my generation - even though we were just barely getting started. Matterhorn, for me, is the most accurate, vivid, terrifying, frustrating, elegant novel of that war I have ever read. 

I have a full review (with a little help from my friends) of Matterhorn over on the Warwick's blog, so check it.

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Twenty-Three

Day 23, Chapter 23
A 9th Judgment haiku for your Friday morning:
Yuki left alone
a good day in court
spicy crab celebration
There are so many choice lines in this little chapter, it's hard to know where to begin. Seriously, you're going to think I'm making this up. Try this dialogue on for size - Yuki is now alone in the tiki bar (or whatever it is) and approaches the bartender in his "wild-printed shirt":
"Miles?"
"That's my name, he told her. "Wait. I've seen you before. You and your friends - beer and margaritas, right?"
"I'm Yuki Castellano," she said, shaking his hand. "What do you drink to celebrate a good day in court?"
"You beat a traffic ticket?"
Yuki laughed.
"Do that again," Miles said. "I think the sun just came out."
This is what Hachette gets for $150 million (the estimated payout for JPatt in his latest contract.) I guess if he earns your company $500 million in revenuesover the last two years - you don't really care about what sort of swill he churns out. 

Anyway, Yuki orders a "spicy crab salad" and a glass of champagne from Miles and tells him all about her day in court - which, it turns out, went very well for Yuki, who's had multiple losses in the courtroom.
"So it's terrific that you won."
"Yeah. I've been at this a couple of years. I've had a lot of losses."
Need a lawyer, Miles? Yuki then complains about the "stone in her shoe" of a defense attorney she faced in the trial. On the way out of the courtroom, he had told her, "Congratulations on your win, Yuki. What is that? One in a row?" Hahahaha! Good one.
"He's a sore loser," the bartender said. "You hurt him, Yuki. Definitely. Guess what? Your champagne's on the house."
"Thanks, Miles. Yeah. You're right. He's a sore loser."
"Bartenders never lie," Miles said.
Yuki laughed.
"Here comes the sun," he said.
Good night everybody.
Go to Day 24.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Twenty-Two

Day 22, Chapter 22
(At left is a what my entire day's reading from The 9th Judgment looks like.) The scene is Susie's bar, complete with "sponge-painted walls, spicy aromas, and the plinking drumbeats of the steel band."  Worst bar ever?  Claire and Lindsay meet Cindy and Yuki in the back room, at their favorite table, thus achieving the perfection of having the Women's Murder Club assembled in one room!  And together they form the mighty Voltron!  That would be an awesome book, wouldn't it?

Cindy (the Reporter one) is babbling about how Casey Dowling had a huge-ass "canary diamond ring worth a million bucks" called the "Sun of Ceylon" that was stolen by Hello Kitty. (We of course know that "Hello Kitty" is planning on turning the yellow diamond into a pendant that she can wear with her T.J. Maxx outfits. See Chapter 16.) Lindsay lets on that she thinks Hello Kitty may be from the same high society crowd that the Dowlings run with.
Yuki asked, "You're thinking Hello Kitty is high-society?"
"Rich (Conklin) does," Cindy and I said in unison.
Cindy chimes in like that 'cause she's doin' Conklin, remember? (Chapter 18 Make-out Session) There's a little more blah blah blah, then Claire (the XXL pathologist one) slams her fist down on the table and lays this majestic speech on us: 
"I'm sorry, but the Benton killings give me the creeps. WCF. What's that? It's crazy. Sinister crazy. Mystery gunpowder stippling. Mystery motive. Dead baby, shot execution-style. So let me be clear: I don't care whose case it is, and I know it's not right to care more about one murder victim over another. I said I'm sorry, and I am, but this dead baby hurts me. Deeply. And now I'm going home to my man and my little girl."
I now want to read an entire novel narrated by Claire - that will really drive me over the edge.
Go to Day 23.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Twenty-One

Day Twenty-One, Chapter Twenty-One
The children have spoken. Patterson has been named Author of the Year by the Children's Book Council - as voted on by thousands of kids. When I woke up this morning, I believed the children were our future...

Jamespatterson.com: "Awards were based on fan voting, so, as you can see, James was pretty proud!"
Marcus Dowling opened his door and showed us to a sitting room decorated to the hilt with English-style roll-arm sofas, Flow Blue platters on the walls, and Foo dogs on the mantel. Mayfair meets the City on the Bay.
Where did all of those references come from? I bet James has a room in his own 20,000 square foot house that's decorated exactly like that. (By the way, Wikipedia says that the "Foo dog" is "an ancient and rare breed of dog. It is not to be confused with the Chow Chow or Pekingese.")
Conklin...is a sensational good cop to my badass bitch...
If you have to call yourself a "badass bitch", you're probably not a "badass bitch". Prove it Lindsay! Show me somethin'! Anything! So far your partner's done all the work here.
"Mr. Dowling, when was the last time you had intimate relations with your wife?"
Yeah! That's what I'm talkin' about! Get right in his face, girl!
"Someone had sex with your wife."
Alright, chill out. You don't have to be such a badass bitch about it.
"Casey had sex with me!" Dowling shouted.
Mystery solved! Good work, detective.
"I took everything in the clothes hamper and whatever was on the hook behind the bathroom door," Conklin said as we walked out to the car.
Uh, okay.

On a side note, this project has taken a little flak on another site - nothing major, just some criticism about my mission statement. Becky from RA For All feels that I am never going to understand the appeal of Patterson by reading his book at my current pace, as pacing is actually part of his appeal. Fair enough, I suppose, if you really wanted to take this thing that seriously. I don't. Becky considers Patterson novels as welcome diversions, escapes - not unlike watching bad television programs. How is this a positive thing? How is this, in any way, furthering us as a literate society? Just watch TV instead. "Unlike Marko I am not judging why people love to read him when quite frankly, his books would not win any literary prizes...I would ask Marko to rethink his agenda. Taking 117 days to read a book that should take even a busy person 2 days misses the main appeal factor of the book. He will never understand why people love Patterson until he stays up all night reading one cover-to-cover." 

See you tomorrow.

Go to Day 22.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Twenty

Day Twenty, Chapter Twenty
So Marcus Dowling - who, if you recall, might have suffered a heart attack in Chapter 12 (JESUS CHRIST! Marcus Dowling was dying) - is apparently alive and offering a $50,000 reward for info leading to the arrest of his wife's killer. (Either he was having a "stress attack" or "maybe he was acting.")
Is he jamming us up with wacko tipsters so we can't work the case?
Lindsay "assess(es) the horizontal grooves that had appeared overnight on Jacobi's forehead."  Jacobi calls a meeting:
Jacobi pulled a chair into the center of the bull pen, straddled it, and called the squad to attention.
Ah, so its that kind of meeting.
I was struck again by how crappy he looked. Jacobi is a veteran of the force: he's served roughly twenty years in Homicide, a survivor of both physical attacks and life's vicisitudes. So what was so special that it was bothering the hell out of him?
(I actually laughed out loud when I read that last part. And James, you get a Triple Word Score for "vicisitudes.")  The squad gives rundowns of their cases: Detective Chi, "five feet eleven inches of canny braniac" is working the WCF case & still hasn't read the front cover of this book to figure out what that means. He's been busy looking through the phone book for names with those initials. Nice work, braniac. Lindsay then steps "next into the buzz saw" and offers up "the whole nine yards of the nothing" they have on the Dowling murder. Your tax dollars hard at work.
Jacobi nodded, then he dropped the bomb.
Man, alright, meeting adjourned.  Damn.
Go to Day Twenty-One.

Monday, May 17, 2010

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Nineteen

Day Nineteen, Chapter Nineteen
Man, I really need to take this thing one day at a time - thinking about how much more of my life will be wasted on writing about this crap is going to kill me. Still, what was I thinking?

Does anyone care about plot points? I don't think I do. And if you do, The 9th Judgment by James Patterson is available at fine independent bookstores everywhere. Or in your local Walmart. Go get your own copy.

Business:  Apparently, Claire Washburn, forensic pathologist and member of the Women's Murder Club, is overweight - Patterson seemingly has a problem with that fact, as he offers this critical assessment, rather than just mentioning it in passing:
She was wearing a floral shower cap and an apron over her XXL scrubs - still carrying some poundage from her pregnancy on her size-sixteen frame.
Hell man, you made this character up, you don't have to give her such a hard time. Put her on a frickin' diet if you don't like it. Really, a floral showercap?

I like this description of a photo that Claire has on her desk of the Women's Murder Club in all their glory:
There was Yuki, all suited up, her dark hair parted in the middle, falling in two glossy wings to her chin; Cindy was grinning, her slightly overlapping front teeth drawing attention to how pretty she really is; and then there was Claire, buxom and beautiful in her midforties.
And there was I, towering over them all at five ten, wearing my blond hair in a ponytail and sporting a dead-serious look on my face. The thing is, I think of myself as lighthearted. I wonder where I got that idea.
I think that's a fairly perfect example of what the writing is like in a Patterson novel. He holds your hand - rather tightly - as he walks you through his descriptive prose, one foot in front of the other, stifling all imagination. I suppose that's what readers want in one of his books - to be swept along, away from reality, someone telling you every detail of another life so that you don't have to think about your own. As an admitted book snob, I want a little more out of the books I read - if it's this obvious that not much effort has gone into the crafting of sentences, why should I bother? If you don't bother, as the author, why should I?

Answer: because I had the brilliant idea to read each of the 117 chapters in this book, one day at a time & write about it and now I'm trapped in this endless project for the rest of the spring and summer. Idiot.
Go to Day Twenty.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

117 Days of James Patterson - Day Eighteen

Day Eighteen, Chapter Eighteen
Today I offer a series of excerpts from Chapter 18, without commentary:

  • The morning after their murders, Barbara Ann and Darren Benton, along with Casey Dowling, were chilling in the morgue while Conklin and I stared at each other across our overloaded desks, not knowing whether to spit or go blind.

  • I told Jacobi that the lunatic killer who'd left a message in the Bentons' RAV4 made me feel like I'd put my finger in a live electric socket.

  • Jacobi showed me his palms. What do you want from me? No manpower. No budget. I want to keep my job. Do what I tell you.

  • Conklin looked fresh, his brown eyes sparkling in the gloom of the bull pen, his shining brown hair falling across his forehead...

  • "Look at this!" (Cindy) shouted, her blond bedspring curls bouncing, blue lightning flashing in her eyes.

  • "We're working the case, Cindy," I said. "Jeez. We haven't stopped. I got all of two hours in the rack last night - "
  • "Rich?" Cindy cocked her head like a little yellow bird.

  • She batted her eyelashes at Conklin and gave him her best come-hither stare...Cindy leaped up, hugged Conklin around the neck, kissed him on the mouth...

  • To recap: we're all chillin' in the morgue with the sexually attractive Conklin, spitting and going blind from sticking our fingers into electrical sockets. Cindy busts in and flashes some of her "blue lightning" at Conklin like a little yellow bird. Lindsay ends up in the rack for 2 hours while Conklin & Cindy make out.
    Go to Day Nineteen.

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    117 Days of James Patterson - Day Seventeen

    Day Seventeen, Chapter Seventeen
    This is how I have to start my morning, here on Day 17:
    Sarah slammed the front door of her apartment and marched out to the car thinking about frickin' Trevor, who had begged her, "Wait just another minute."  Only it was an unbearable twenty minutes under his fat, nasty body, and now she was borderline late for work - again.
    C'mon, its like 7am on a Saturday, I just poured my first coffee and I'm already being hit with a "frickin'" and a sex scene. See what I do for you people? 

    Sarah, on her way to work, tunes her car radio to "Good Morning with Lisa Kerz and Rosemary Van Buren, the place for traffic, weather, and local news", which informs her of the murder of Casey Dowling the night before. Oh snap.
    • "Sarah stared at the radio as if it were a person..."
    • "Sarah gripped the wheel."
    • "Sarah's heart thundered in her chest."
    • "She ripped her eyes back to the road..."
    • "...jerked the steering wheel..."
    • "...she drove without seeing"
    Damn you, Rosemary Van Buren! Your dedication to breaking news and traffic is the reason there are so many bad drivers out there!

    Once parked safely in the parking lot of Booker T. Washington High, Sarah makes her way to the teacher's lounge for her "customary pick-me-up before facing the day." (I assume that this teacher's lounge is like all others, and the pick-me-up is a quick bump or a snort, right?)  Still freaking out about the implications of Casey Dowling's death, Sarah encounters fellow teacher, Heidi Meyer at the "coffee" machine. (wink, wink) 
    "You okay, Sarah?"
    "Bah. Trevor's a bastard. Heard enough?"
    Sadly, yes, I have heard enough, but I still have 100 days left. Oh, you weren't talking to me. Heidi, who smells like lilacs, gives Sarah a hug and Sarah buries "her face in the soft cloud of Heidi's red hair."
    Could Heidi hear her blood roaring? God.
    Then, James Patterson finally reveals his dirty old man side, always simmering just below the surface:
    Heidi gave Sarah a peck on the lips - and Sarah kissed Heidi back, but harder and with feeling. Heidi's sweet mouth opening under hers as Sarah put her whole heart into it. If only she could tell Heidi everything.
    Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about. I imagine that the conversation between Patterson and his co-author, Maxine Paetro goes something like this:

    "Uh, nice work on Chapter 17, Maxine, but I'd like to see a little more girl-on-girl action towards the end. Maybe they could make out in the teacher's lounge? Or just some heavy petting."

    "Um, okay, Mr. Patterson."

    "Let me watch you while you write it."


    Go to Day Eighteen.

    Friday, May 14, 2010

    117 Days of James Patterson - Day Sixteen

    Day Sixteen, Chapter Sixteen
    Did you know that "Sarah Wells wasn't the first cat burglar to do break-ins while dinner was on the table?" She has actually studied "the greats", like the "Dinnertime Burglar" and the "Dinner Set Gang". (No, seriously, those are the names JPatt came up with.) I, for one really admire the work of the "Pot Roast Prowler" and the "Does Anyone Want Dessert? Safe Cracker Gang". I know the "Suppertime Snoop Squad" has been in all the papers, but I find their work derivative and amateur, to be frank. (By the way, if you have never basked in the glory that is John Hodgman's list of 700 hobo names, you're missing out on some seriously inspired work.)
    ...she marveled at how her victims felt so secure with the lights on that they didn't set their security alarms.
    Their magical thinking was just amazing.  And woo-hoo for that.
    Sarah is still in her bedroom, admiring the loot from the Dowling heist - particularly a ring with a massive, pale-yellow stone set in the center, with 120 small diamonds surrounding it.
    What a ring! This thing was a frickin' gasper.  It just shrieked romance.
    Well, woo-hoo for that. Nothing shrieks romance like...the word shriek. She fantasizes about keeping just this particular ring, despite the danger, believing that she could pull off wearing it as a pendant, even with her "T.J. Maxx wardrobe and plain looks." Then there's this kinda weird scene with Sarah and her husband, Trevor. Can anyone explain this scene to me, seriously? Is this just a game they play? Is Trevor an abusive husband? Why, why, why am I even wondering about this? What is happening to me?!
    As Sarah stared at herself in the mirror, there was a loud knock on the door. It was her husband, Trevor.
    "Why is this door locked, missy? What are you doing? Having fun with yourself?"

    "You could say that," Sarah said.
    "Let me in."
    "No."
    Sarah put the ring under the hollowed out base of the lamp on her night table.
    "Go to hell!" she shouted.
    He was shaking the door, kicking at it. Sarah went over and unlocked it. Just another day, she thought as she let Trevor into the bedroom. Just another day in the secret life of Sarah Wells.
    I've tried counting the "frickins" again, but I keep getting different numbers. There was definitely one in Chapter 16, so the count is somewhere between 5 and 7. I'll frickin' try again tomorrow.
    Go to Day Seventeen.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    117 Days of James Patterson - Day Fifteen

    Day Fifteen, Chapter Fifteen
    As Day 15 dawns, we are brought back to Sarah Wells - by night: cat burglar, aka Hello Kitty; by day: schoolteacher - whom we first met back in the Prologue. Sarah has just arrive home after robbing the Dowlings and is stashing her stolen jewelry in the false bottom of her bedroom dresser. "Like her, the dresser held secrets." She stands there, admiring the jewels for a moment.
    Sarah unzipped the bag with her latest haul and looked into the glorious tangle of jewels that had, until recently, belonged to a movie star's wife.  It was the most unbelievable stuff: totally insane and wonderful sapphires and diamonds; rings and necklaces and bracelets...
    She'd pulled off the burglary by the slimmest margin - a squeaker, for God's sake.
    It turns out that Sarah's "fence" (the guy who sells her stuff for her so she doesn't get caught) has been killed in an unrelated incident and she needs to find a new way to unload her stash. While she thinks about that, she spaces out a little, looking at the jewels some more.
    Sarah cupped a double handful of Casey Dowling's treasure and rocked her hands under a table lamp so that the light bounced off the facets.  Behind her locked bedroom door, Sarah Wells became mesmerized by the gorgeous refracting light.
    Man, does that prose blow your hair back or what?

    Today's "frickin'" count stands at zero, leaving the total at 6 for another day. Unless I counted wrong, which is completely possible.


    In an unrelated story, the army of relentless marketing drones that work for Mr. Patterson (aka the Hachette Book Group) has sent out the Advance Reading Copies of his Fall releases. One in September and one in November. (There may be others, but I thought it amazing enough that 2 arrived at the store at the same time.) I gave about 5 seconds of thought to reading some of the upcoming Cross Fire (featuring JPatt's star character, Alex Cross) to see how a solo piece by Patterson compares to a co-authored one, but I can't bring myself to read past the first page. Even I'm not that much of a self-flagellating idiot.

    Hey, does anyone want one of these ARCs to start your own 117 Days? Weirdly enough, Cross Fire also has 117 chapters. Seriously.
    Go to Day Sixteen.

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    117 Days of James Patterson - Day Fourteen

    Day Fourteen, Chapter Fourteen
    In the midst of canvassing the neighborhood around the Dowlings' house, Lindsay interviews a kid who claims to have seen shadows running around, dressed in black. Then she gets a text message from Yuki, who she calls back right away. Sometimes I think it's best to just let James speak for himself.
    "God! I know her!" Yuki said.
    "Know who?"
    "Casey Dowling."
    Frickin' grapevine. How could she have heard already?
    "We went to law school together, Lindsay. Damn it. Casey was a sweetheart. A doll. When you catch the shooter, I'm going to fight for the case, and then I'm going to send Casey Dowling's killer straight to hell."
    Chapter Fourteen word count: 361
    Time spent reading Chapter Fourteen: 47.6 seconds
    Total number of times the word "frickin'" has been used in the book: 6


    Go to Day Fifteen.

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    117 Days of James Patterson - Day Thirteen

    Day Thirteen, Chapter Thirteen
    Man, this is the beauty of a project like this one - just when you have a day (like yesterday) where nothing happens (comically or otherwise) in the book and you're feeling like this thing is an untamable, wild beast, you get a little diamond in the rough like Chapter 13.
    JESUS CHRIST! Marcus Dowling is dying.
    I especially like the emphatic, all-caps "Jesus Christ" in this opening sentence, followed by the emotionless, matter-of-fact second part.

    ...I called Dispatch. I repeated the house address and shouted, "Fifty-year-old male! Heart attack!"
    I bet Dispatch doesn't appreciate being shouted at.

    Last week, when I was timing how long it took me to read each chapter, I realized that they were all readable in under 2 minutes, placing them conveniently within the space of a 2-minute commercial break on television. Coincidence? Maybe. Until I read this situation assessment by Detective Lindsay Boxer:

    The SFPD was already suffering from budget cuts and too little manpower. Add to that the public expectation that homicides could be solved in an hour between commercial breaks, and I knew we were in for a humongous, spotlighted nightmare. 
    "A Humongous, Spotlighted Nightmare: My 117 Days with James Patterson" by Seth Marko

    Lindsay and Conklin discuss the case while "canvassing" the neighborhood. They don't do any canvassing, they just talk to each other, but they do discuss the fourth and final member of the "Women's Murder Club", Cindy Thomas, ace crime reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle! Cindy has been writing a series on a cat burgler she has dubbed "Hello Kitty" - all the pieces seem to fit with the scene at the Dowling house. Second-story burglaries while the homeowners are downstairs, entertaining their high society guests, only jewelry gets stolen.
    Here's what was know about Hello Kitty: he was fit, deft, and fast, and had a huge pair of stones.
    Conklin thinks Hello Kitty is part of the same high society circles that he/she robs, which is how he/she knows when the dinner parties are happening. Like this is the only way you would ever find out that someone was going to be home having dinner with friends? It's a good thing Lindsay's such a badass cop, 'cause her partner's a dummy. She's super suspicious, especially since Marcus Dowling had wet hair when they met him - as if he had jumped into the shower after he found his dead wife in the bedroom. Hmmm.
    Go to Day Fourteen.

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    117 Days of James Patterson - Day Twelve

    Day Twelve, Chapter Twelve
    Monday morning, day 12 & I can see the next 105 days spread out before me in a sprawl of monotony and ill-formed sentences. Shit. Chapter Twelve is kinda boring - Lindsay, Conklin, and Jacobi interview Marcus Dowling, famous movie actor and "the next best thing to Sean Connery." He paces the room, telling the cops about how he was downstairs when he heard the gunshots that killed his wife.
    "...as I was heading upstairs, I heard another bang. This time I thought it was a gunshot, and right after that, I heard glass breaking."
    The breaking glass must have been the whatnots, the bric-a-brac, and the knickknacks, don't you think? Dowling, ever the actor, puts on a good show of crying & pacing around the room before he delivers the performance of his life.

    "Mr. Dowling, do you own a gun?"

    Dowling turned a wild-eyed stare on Conklin. His face went rigid with pain. He clutched his left arm and said, "Something's wrong."

    Then he keeled over and dropped to the floor.
    Now that's how you end a frickin' chapter!
    Go to Day Thirteen.

    Sunday, May 09, 2010

    117 Days of James Patterson - Day Eleven

    Day Eleven, Chapter Eleven
    Right to business: Lindsay and Conklin head over to the Dowling's house to meet up with Jacobi and check out the new murder scene. Jacobi appears in pretty bad shape, even for an overworked police captain. I mean, every time she talks to this guy on the phone, he sounds like "someone had walked over his grave" or has a "strangled sound in his voice." Maybe he has cancer.

    "His face was sagging from stress. His eyelids drooped and he looked almost older tonight than he had when we'd both taken bullets on Larkin Street."
    Well, he is, technically, older now. But still. Lindsay & Conklin head upstairs to check out the Dowling's palatial bedroom. The bed is "the size of Catalina" and the room has "more tassels...than backstage at the Mitchell Brothers' Girls, Girls, Girls!!! review." (I had to look that one up.)  There are "broken knickknacks" by the open window and Lindsay can still smell gunpowder. (Bullshit.) Casey Dowling's dead, naked body lies on the floor.

    (Charlie Clapper, director of the Crime Scene Unit) flapped his hand toward me and Conklin in greeting and said, "Frickin' shame, a beautiful woman like this."
    Barf. How cliche is that? I'm shocked, actually, that Lindsay, a card-carrying member of the "Women's Murder Club", doesn't ask, "If she were ugly, Charlie, would it still be a frickin' shame?" I'm disappointed in you, James.
    "When (Marcus Dowling) came into the room, his wife was lying there. That table and the bric-a-brac were broken on the floor, and the window was open."
    Wait, the burgler broke the whatnots, the knickknacks, AND the bric-a-brac? You maniac!

    Lindsay gets the facts from Charlie: window cut with a glass cutter, safe not damaged (so maybe was already open), no bullet casings at the scene. Charlie thinks it odd that an "organized, fastidious" professional cat burgler would carry a gun. Lindsay starts to become suspicious.
    "What made a cat burgler fire on a naked woman?"
    Indeed, Detective. Indeed. Especially a "beautiful woman", right Charlie?
    Go to Day Twelve.

    Saturday, May 08, 2010

    117 Days of James Patterson - Day Ten

    Day Ten, Chapter Ten
    (One minute, 3 seconds - a new record!) Yesterday I offered a "spoiler" concerning the deep meaning of "WCF" by directing you to jamespatterson.com, but I didn't need to do that. I should have just looked at the cover of the book. (see left) Yeah, it's that blatant. I discovered it while shelving a copy at work yesterday. Oh well. But hey, mystery solved, right?

    In Chapter Ten (leaving a mere 107 to go!) Detective Lindsay Boxer & her partner head to the home of the murder victim, Barbara Benton, to visit her husband and ruin his life. When Mr. Benton opens his door to the cops, Lindsay knows that they "were seeing the last happy moment of the man's life." Nice. They then blow past his grief and grill him about everything they can think of: his marriage, his wife's friends, coworkers, any threats made against her, what he made for dinner (chicken), can he come down to the station & look at the dead bodies of his wife & baby? Then Lindsay gets a call from her boss again, this time about a new case that she's really going to want to take 'cause its so awesome. He has a "strangled sound in his voice for the second time in as many hours" as he tells Lindsay to hand the Benton case to another pair of detectives.
    "Hand it off? Excuse me? What's that about?"
    "Something new just came in, Boxer."
    Honest to God, I was running out of gas, going into my thirteenth straight hour on the job.
    Honest to God, I think my summary is now longer than the chapter itself. Time yourself reading this post to see, just for fun. 1:03 is the time to beat.

    The new, more exciting case is the murder of Marcus Dowling's wife - killed by "an intruder".  Remember? The prologue, dudes! It's all coming into focus now!  This is so exciting!  
    Go to Day Eleven.

    Friday, May 07, 2010

    117 Days of James Patterson - Day Nine

    Day Nine, Chapter Nine
    (One minute, 31 seconds)  According to the NYT Magazine article on James (see Day Eight for more), the process of crafting a Patterson novel (with a co-author) goes something like this: J.P. writes up a 50-something page outline (triple-spaced, of course - so is that really like a ten-page outline?), the co-author drafts out the chapters individually, sends them back to Patterson for reading, revision, & rewriting if necessary. The end. He's pretty much a glorified editor, I guess.

    "If you want to write for yourself, get a diary. If you want to write for a few friends, get a blog. But if you want to write for a lot of people, think about them a little bit. What do they like? What are their needs? A lot of people in this country go through their days numb. They need to be entertained. They need to feel something."
    Alright, blogger-related insults aside, this is a pretty noble approach. However I must reject it for comedic purposes. Besides, in 2008 he purchased a 20,000-square-foot home in Palm Beach, FL for $17.4 million - he's in this thing for the benjamins, my friends.

    Okay, back to work - Chapter Nine: Lindsay sees the "WCF" written in lipstick on the windshield of the victim's car and ponders the significance. She gets a little freaked out thinking about "the bad old days" of San Francisco of the '90's when the "Backstreet Killer" terrorized the city, murdering & leaving notes, but never getting caught.

    "The letters 'WCF' meant nothing to me, except the fact that only wacko killers deliberately leave a signature."
    Ah ha! I've solved it! I know what WCF means! Did you watch the James Patterson video that I told you about yesterday, faithful readers? (If this thing's going to work, you have to play along, people.)  I won't spill the beans - it'll be fun to see how long the suspense gets dragged out.

    Lindsay & her partner, Conklin, decide that there was no robbery, just a double execution. While "questions were flooding (Lindsay's) mind", her BFF, Medical Examiner Dr. Claire Washburn comes roaring onto the scene in her coroner's van, "tires screeching." Awww yeah, the Women's Murder Club is now in session y'all! (Uh, Yuki Castellano is also in the club. Sorry, this is my first time.)

    "(She) got out of the van wearing blue scrubs and a Windbreaker - black with white letters spelling out MEDICAL EXAMINER front and back. Despite the odds of a black woman succeeding in her profession when she first got started, Claire had done it. In my opinion, she's the finest forensic pathologist west of the Rockies. She's also the friend of my heart..."
    Claire begins to take photos, crying silently. Lindsay can't remember the last time she saw Claire cry - that's how you know this shit is bad. Claire notices a strange stippling pattern of gunshot residue on the mother's neck - what does this mean?

    "Means WCF has some rare kind of gun."
    And...scene.


    Go to Day Ten.

    Thursday, May 06, 2010

    117 Days of James Patterson - Day Eight

    Day Eight, Chapter Eight
    (One minute, 18 seconds) Three pages of paper, 2 pages worth of words. Why am I still surprised?

    I had a co-worker tell me yesterday about an article on James Patterson as a cash product that he had read somewhere recently. So I was checking out jamespatterson.com to see if there was a link anywhere, when the man himself spoke to me. Mind you, this was at 6:30 in the morning - to hear Patterson himself hawking the book sitting on the table next to me sort of felt like a hallucination. Just go to Patterson's home page to watch the promo - it's only 15 seconds and uses the word "unputdownable", you'll love it.

    The article I was searching for was actually a huge story in the New York Times Magazine ("James Patterson Inc.", January 20, 2010) that is filled with fascinating quotes from the author and tons of insight into the process of creating a Patterson novel. In reference to his current style of writing (as opposed to that of his Edgar Award-winning first novel) he said, "I’m less interested in sentences now and more interested in stories." Well, that's a relief! 'Cause the sentences I've read so far are pretty freakin' awful.

    “Look, if you’re writing 'Crime and Punishment' or 'Remembrance of Things Past,' then you can sit back and go: ‘This is it, this is the book. This is high art. I’m the man, you’re not. The end.’ But I’m not the man, and this is not high art.”

    Oh, right, speaking of "not high art", Chapter 8 - Lindsay bids Yuki farewell and heads to the crime scene. She offers some astounding praise on her way out the door.


    "Your closing was outstanding, girlfriend. Don't quit."
    I'm sure Yuki feels much better about her court case after their heart-to-heart. When she arrives at the crime scene (if you remember, Pete Gordon shoots mom & baby in Chapter 2) she's greeted by Officer Joe Sorbero, who "looked gray, as if he'd never seen death before." He tells her, grimly, that her "next nightmare is right over there", pointing out the RAV4 murder scene.  Honestly, I can't find anything funny about this scene - it has too many dead babies in it. Wait...

    "Are you thinking the baby was collateral damage?"
    "No way," Conklin said. "He was capped on purpose."
    Yeah! See you tomorrow!

    I'd just like to quickly thank Angela Carone at KPBS and Aaryn Belfer over at aarynbelfer.com (among other things) for taking the time to plug this project & encourage me to continue in the face of such a daunting task. If you guys can keep reading, I'll keep writing about it, even if it kills most of my brain. Thanks!
    Go to Day Nine.