1st to Die
Goodreads ratings
4.08 / 5

"1st to Die" Summary

By James Patterson

mystery | 424 pages | Published in NaN

James Patterson, bestselling author of the Alex Cross novels Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls, and Pop Goes the Weasel, offers the first of a new series dubbed The Women's Murder Club, featuring a four-woman team that occasionally works outside the system. None of the gritty darkness or frenzied action is lost in 1st to Die, although the female protagonists offer an even deeper emotional context to this suspense thriller.Inspector Lindsay Boxer of the San Francisco Police Department suddenly finds herself in the middle of two horrifying situations: The first is that she's just learned she has an often-fatal blood disease. The second is a double homicide case she is now heading up that involves the murder of newlyweds on their wedding night. Burdened with Chris Raleigh, a new partner reassigned from the mayor's office, Lindsay finds that she has too much to deal with and turns to her best friend, Claire, the head ME on the case. Claire offers helpful advice and human, friendly contact amid a job filled with violence, cruelty, and fear.Soon a fledgling newspaper reporter, Cindy, makes contact with Lindsay looking for a career-making story. Although Lindsay can't officially comment on the case, the two women form a rapport, and Cindy joins Lindsay and Claire for their weekly meeting. When a second pair of newlyweds is murdered, and later a third, the investigation leads to a prominent crime writer, Nicholas Jenks, who has a history of spousal abuse and a predilection for kinky, dangerous sex games. With the help of an understanding assistant D.A., Jill Bernhardt, Lindsay tries to make a case against Jenks, who even had an affair with one of the slain women. Eventually Jill joins the Murder Club, and the four ladies share private interdepartmental information in an effort to track and stop the killer before he strikes again.The major subplot -- Lindsay's facing up to her illness even while she learns to fall in love again -- carefully compensates for the novel's coarse scenes of brutality. Lindsay Boxer is't merely an obsessed cop trailing a maniac; she's also a terrified woman confronting the onslaught of disease. The story lines balance out to show us the true mettle of someone who puts the safety of others before her own.Again, Patterson's skill for producing furiously paced fiction are evident as the novel breezes by rapidly. The short chapters keep the narrative leaping with increasingly taut plot elements, but there's an emotional commitment that makes our protagonist even more amiable and involving. 1st to Die is a novel that works as an intense series of character portraits that will leave the reader touched and delighted.--Tom Piccirilli


Estimated read time: 6 min read

One Sentence Summary

Detective Lindsay Boxer joins forces with three other women to track down a serial killer terrorizing San Francisco.


"1st to Die" is a gripping crime thriller written by James Patterson. It is the first book in the Women's Murder Club series, which follows a group of four women who join forces to solve complex murder cases in San Francisco. With its fast-paced narrative, intriguing plot, and well-developed characters, "1st to Die" keeps readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end. This book explores the themes of love, friendship, and the pursuit of justice, while offering a unique insight into the minds of both the killers and the investigators.

Brief Synopsis

The story is set in the vibrant city of San Francisco, where a ruthless serial killer known as the "Honeymoon Killer" is terrorizing the streets. The killer targets newlywed couples, brutally murdering the brides on their wedding night. As the death toll rises, the city is gripped by fear, and the pressure mounts on the police force to catch the elusive killer.

Enter Lindsay Boxer, a talented homicide detective who is determined to bring the killer to justice. She joins forces with three other women: Jill Bernhardt, an ambitious assistant district attorney; Claire Washburn, a skilled medical examiner; and Cindy Thomas, a young and ambitious crime reporter. Together, they form the Women's Murder Club, pooling their unique skills and resources to solve the case.

As the investigation unfolds, the Women's Murder Club delves into the lives of the victims, uncovering dark secrets and hidden motives. They navigate through a web of lies, betrayal, and shocking revelations, all while struggling with their own personal demons. Along the way, Lindsay also finds herself torn between her dedication to the case and her blossoming relationship with Chris Raleigh, a charismatic reporter.

Main Characters

Character NameDescription
Lindsay BoxerA determined and talented homicide detective
Jill BernhardtAn ambitious assistant district attorney
Claire WashburnA skilled and compassionate medical examiner
Cindy ThomasA young and ambitious crime reporter

Summary of Story Points

Chapters 1-5: The Honeymoon Killer Strikes Again

  • The Honeymoon Killer strikes again, claiming another victim on her wedding night.
  • Lindsay Boxer takes charge of the case and begins her investigation.
  • She discovers a pattern in the killings and starts connecting the dots.

Chapters 6-10: The Formation of the Women's Murder Club

  • Lindsay Boxer recruits Jill Bernhardt, Claire Washburn, and Cindy Thomas to help her solve the case.
  • The Women's Murder Club is formed, and they start pooling their skills and resources.
  • Lindsay and Chris Raleigh's relationship becomes more complicated as they work together on the case.

Chapters 11-15: Uncovering Dark Secrets

  • The Women's Murder Club delves into the lives of the victims, uncovering dark secrets and hidden motives.
  • They suspect that the killer may have a personal connection to the victims.
  • Lindsay's personal life becomes increasingly strained as she focuses on the case.

Chapters 16-20: Betrayal and Revelations

  • The investigation takes an unexpected turn when a member of the Women's Murder Club is suspected of being involved in the killings.
  • Lindsay must confront her own doubts and question the loyalty of her friends.
  • Shocking revelations and betrayals rock the Women's Murder Club.

Chapters 21-25: The Final Showdown

  • The Women's Murder Club races against time to catch the killer before he strikes again.
  • Lindsay uncovers crucial evidence that leads them to the killer's identity.
  • A thrilling and suspenseful final showdown takes place, with the Women's Murder Club risking everything to bring the killer to justice.

Main Events

  • The Honeymoon Killer continues to target newlywed couples, escalating the body count.
  • Lindsay Boxer forms the Women's Murder Club to solve the case.
  • The Women's Murder Club uncovers dark secrets and hidden motives of the victims.
  • Betrayals and revelations shake the trust within the Women's Murder Club.
  • Lindsay Boxer discovers crucial evidence and leads the team to the killer's identity.
  • A thrilling final showdown takes place, with the Women's Murder Club risking everything to bring the killer to justice.

Themes and Insights

"1st to Die" delves into several themes and provides insightful perspectives on society, relationships, and justice. Some of the prominent themes include:

  1. Friendship and Collaboration: The Women's Murder Club demonstrates the power of collaboration and friendship in solving complex cases. Despite their different backgrounds and professions, they come together to support and rely on each other.
  2. Justice and Morality: The pursuit of justice and the moral dilemmas faced by the characters are central to the story. They grapple with questions of right and wrong, often making difficult choices to ensure justice is served.
  3. Love and Relationships: The book explores the complexities of love and relationships, both romantic and platonic. Lindsay's relationship with Chris Raleigh is tested as they balance their personal connection with their professional responsibilities.
  4. Power and Control: The killer's thirst for power and control over his victims is a recurring theme. The book examines the psychology behind such desires and the devastating consequences they have on individuals and society.

Reader's Takeaway

"1st to Die" is a thrilling and addictive crime novel that will keep readers guessing until the very end. James Patterson's masterful storytelling and well-developed characters make this book a must-read for fans of the genre. The theme of friendship and the strength of the Women's Murder Club serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of unity and collaboration in the face of adversity. The book also offers insights into the depths of human darkness and the perseverance of those who fight for justice.


In "1st to Die," James Patterson delivers a gripping crime thriller that captivates readers from start to finish. With its fast-paced narrative, well-crafted plot, and compelling characters, this book is a must-read for fans of the genre. As the Women's Murder Club races against time to catch a ruthless serial killer, the story explores themes of friendship, justice, and the complexities of human relationships. "1st to Die" is a thrilling page-turner that will leave readers eagerly reaching for the next book in the series.

1st to Die FAQ

  1. Who is the author of '1st to Die'?

    The author of '1st to Die' is James Patterson.

  2. What is the genre of '1st to Die'?

    '1st to Die' is a crime thriller novel.

  3. What is the main plot of '1st to Die'?

    The main plot of '1st to Die' revolves around a serial killer known as 'The Honeymoon Killer' who targets newlywed couples.

  4. Who are the main characters in '1st to Die'?

    The main characters in '1st to Die' are four female friends who form a crime-solving group known as the 'Women's Murder Club': Lindsay Boxer, Claire Washburn, Cindy Thomas, and Jill Bernhardt.

  5. Is '1st to Die' part of a series?

    Yes, '1st to Die' is the first book in the 'Women's Murder Club' series by James Patterson.

  6. Are there any sequels to '1st to Die'?

    Yes, '1st to Die' is followed by several sequels in the 'Women's Murder Club' series, including '2nd Chance', '3rd Degree', '4th of July', and more.

  7. Is '1st to Die' suitable for young readers?

    '1st to Die' is recommended for adult readers due to its mature themes and graphic content.

  8. Where can I purchase a copy of '1st to Die'?

    You can purchase a copy of '1st to Die' from various online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or from local bookstores.

  9. Has '1st to Die' received any awards or recognition?

    Yes, '1st to Die' was a New York Times bestseller and received positive reviews from critics and readers.

  10. Is there a film adaptation of '1st to Die'?

    Yes, '1st to Die' was adapted into a made-for-TV movie in 2003, starring Tracy Pollan and Carly Pope.