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Women’s Murder Club: Welcome to the Club

I love mysteries. I don’t care that they are formulaic. There is something about tracking down clues and making connections that solve the puzzle that I absolutely love. In addition to a Disney fanatic and a TV addict, I am also a reader, and I read almost all mysteries, usually of the cozy variety (think Agatha Christie or Murder, She Wrote).

Having said that, I have never read James Patterson. There are very few best selling authors I read, and he’s not one of them. Plus, my understanding has always been that his books are a bit more gruesome then I normally enjoy reading.

Why bring all this up?  Because, I was quite intrigued by ABC’s new show Women’s Murder Club. They are based on six best selling novels by James Patterson. Some people have already written the show off because the actresses cast to play the leads don’t resemble the characters in the books. Not having read the books, I can’t comment on any of that (although, as a reader, I understand the feelings.) I can, however, comment on the show as a mystery fan.

This episode starts out with Homicide Inspector Lindsay Boxer (Angie Harmon) waiting to meet reporter Theresa Woo by a newsstand. Theresa is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for a fictitious San Francisco newspaper. When Theresa finally does appear, it is as a corpse, falling off a building and landing on Lindsay’s car.

As a result, we meet our other characters. Claire Washburn (Paula Newsome) is a medical examiner. Jill Barnhart (Laura Harris) is a DA with a weak stomach. And Cindy Thomas (Aubrey Dollar) is one of Theresa’s co-workers. With the exception of Cindy, the women have been colleges and friends for years and work together to solve cases.

Since Theresa was renowned for her investigative reports, the list of suspects is rather long.  She’d exposed corruption all over the city.  So, Lindsay works with her police partner Warren to track down leads while the others work their angles to back her up.  But the investigation might lead in some surprising directions.

Okay, I’m not going to recap the entire episode. Mainly because I just can’t bring myself to spoil fiction.

ABC has been the one network without a procedural of any kind, so they are trying to fill that hole with this show. And it might work. While I have never watched an episode of Law and Order, I used to watch CSI and Without a Trace quite regularly. This one has the elements of procedural down pat, especially the gruesome (at least for TV standards) shots of the victims.

What this one brings to the mix to set it apart is the fast pace and witty dialogue. Lindsay, Claire, and Jill are good friends who are highly involved with each other’s lives. In fact, they are quite likely to start discussing personal problems over a corpse. I can understand the show’s desire to create characters and let them shine to set this show apart from the competition. However, the way they did it seemed a little odd to me, occasionally giving me whiplash. Not to mention the characters are a bit cliche and the potential personal storylines seems a little too familiar.

The mystery itself was good. It led to a climax I wasn’t expecting but did make sense.This doesn’t appear to be the kind of show that leaves clues laying around that the viewer should have picked up while viewing the show. Still, I didn’t spot the villain the first time we saw him or her, so that’s a good thing.

And it looks like the show will have an on going storyline involving work. There were references to the "Kiss Me Not Killer," a serial killer who Lindsay had never been able to catch despite her devotion to the case. I wasn’t too surprised when we found another victim of this killer in the closing seconds of the show. I’m sure we will follow up on this in future episodes while solving the case of the week.

I’m not completely sold on this show yet. There are some flaws that could derail it for me. But it also shows promise. I’ll be sticking with it for the next few weeks at least to watch how it develops.

Mark also writes his own blog.