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22 Seconds

Review

22 Seconds

California already had the strictest gun laws in the country, but now they have been tightened further. There are broadened bans on more semi-automatic weapons, along with stricter registration and sales requirements. Suppressors or clips holding more than 10 rounds are now illegal. “Ghost guns” have been banned. And ALL firearms are required to have GPS so they can be tracked by law enforcement. If you possess any of these weapons, you could be arrested and jailed. A national resistance movement is mobilizing.

In San Francisco, crowds of protestors chanting “We will not comply” steadily grow, and major cities around the nation are passing similar ordinances. The San Francisco mayor has issued a memo to be spread throughout the media: A buy-back operation has just begun in 18 publicized localities, primarily in parking lots around the city where gun shows are often held. These offers are in the form of grocery and big-box store gift cards in exchange for weapons.

"I read the first two books to acquaint myself with these amazing characters. Luckily, I have 19 more to experience."

Chief of Police Charlie Clapper calls an emergency meeting of all local SF law enforcement agents. He announces that he’s looking for undercover officers to attend popular gun shows and be on the lookout for vendors who might be trying to diminish their supply of illegal weapons. Lindsay Boxer’s husband, Joe Molinari, is working as a high-level consultant in risk assessment, port security and advanced cyber threats. He volunteers to team up with a former ATF agent to pose as potential buyers of illegal firearms that are being sold at these gun shows.

They are looking for one man, Alejandro Vega, a specialist in gun trafficking who also deals fentanyl on the side. Vega has just served five years in a Mexico prison and crossed the US border illegally. He is suspected of trying to smuggle arms in from Mexico, rumored to be through tunnels dug beneath the border. The problem is that officials are not certain of the exact location of the tunnels or where they open in the vast shipyard sections of San Francisco. Vega knows that if he is returned to Mexico, he will be executed by the powerful cartels. But will he cooperate?

When former law enforcement officers turn up dead as apparent suicides with fentanyl overdoses and self-inflicted gunshot wounds, Lindsay feels that the situations don’t add up, and she wants to dig deeper. Then she is shown a photo of a dead man with his lips grotesquely stapled shut. A scrawled note that says “You talk, you die” lies next to him. She recognizes him as a former cop. He will not be the last.

Lindsay, who was stripped of her detective status in an earlier book, is joined once again by her Women’s Murder Club partners: Cindy Thomas, the senior crime reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, who is currently on sabbatical, writing a novel based on the life of a notorious serial killer; Claire Washburn, San Francisco’s chief medical examiner; and Jill Bernhardt, a deputy district attorney.

22 SECONDS, which fittingly enough is #22 in the series, served as my introduction to the Women’s Murder Club. I’ve read and enjoyed James Patterson over the years, most recently his collaboration with Bill Clinton, THE PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER IS MISSING, which is a non-stop, page-turning adventure. It’s the fortunate storyteller who teams up with the world’s most popular thriller writer, and Maxine Paetro drew that lucky card here, starting with the fourth installment. I read the first two books to acquaint myself with these amazing characters. Luckily, I have 19 more to experience.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on May 13, 2022

22 Seconds
by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

  • Publication Date: May 2, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 0316499374
  • ISBN-13: 9780316499378