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Women’s Murder Club: A Darker Shade of Grey

Women’s Murder Club: A Darker Shade of Grey


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Recently dubbed “the man who can’t miss” by Time magazine, James Patterson is one of today’s most popular and prolific authors, releasing five or six books each year, most of which make the New York Times bestseller list and enthrall millions of fans. One of his most popular series chronicles the adventures of the Women’s Murder Club, four female friends (think the Golden Girls in their much younger days) solving crime through wit, friendship, perseverance, and hard work: Lindsay Boxer, a detective with the San Francisco Police Department; Cindy Thomas, reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle; Claire Washburn, city Medical Examiner; and Yuki Castellano, an ambitious district attorney. In this thrilling new mystery penned by Patterson himself alongside master game designer Jane Jensen, the foursome must use all of their sleuthing powers to uncover the truth behind a suspicious death at the prestigious Jackson-Moore Academy in Charleston, South Carolina, where a young military cadet’s fatal morning jog leads to much more than an open-and-shut case…

Through the course of ten investigations, you play as Lindsay, Cindy, or Claire. As Lindsay, you do most of the grunt work: interviewing suspects, collecting evidence, and searching rooms. As the game is in linear fashion, you go location to location with specific objectives, which are written in a panel on the left side of your screen. The game automatically stores suspects, evidence, and clues in a subpanel that you can refer to at any time. Most of the puzzles involve cracking codes, finding items, matching clues, etc. Some of them are used merely to fill time or make access to a particular clue or suspect more difficult, while others fit neatly into the investigation. Some are mind-numbingly simple, others more intricate. Overall, there is a good variety of puzzle types that should keep you engaged throughout the several hours of playing time.

The plot takes some considerable twists and turns as the investigation ensues. Patterson and Jensen certainly penned an interesting mystery that takes the women across the country in search of a killer. Each investigation is introduced by a comic-style cartoon vignette of the foursome discussing the case and planning their next moves (sans voiceovers). While these parts tend to move too slowly, they serve as good transitions between investigations – and if you haven’t played the game in awhile, they will remind you of what you know thus far.

The artwork in the game is just beautiful. There are scenes in which you can actually see dust particles dancing around in the light coming in from an open window. The twenty-five different locations that the game offers all look very detailed and realistic; even the small character headshots that appear during dialogue are nicely drawn. Combined with some haunting looped music in the background, the game has an appropriately mysterious, yet comfortable feel to it. It doesn’t take long to get used to the interface, which always sparkles to let you know where the important clues are and keeps track via a point system of your progress. If you do well, you will also gain hints and can even bypass certain puzzles by letting the game solve them for you.

Ultimately, I had fun playing detective for a day and trying to keep up with all the surprising developments that the case had to offer. It’s not without minor flaws, but it’s certainly a fun diversion that any mystery enthusiast – woman or not! – will enjoy. This is a series that deserves to continue and gain as loyal a legion of fans as Patterson himself already has.

This review was based on the retail version of the game – graciously provided by Highwater Group – and not the online, downloadable version.

Final Grade: A-

System Requirements:

  • OS: Windows XP/Vista
  • CPU: 1.0 GHz
  • RAM: 128 MB
  • 300 MB Disk space
  • DirectX: 9.0
  • Hard Drive: 120 MB

Ryan Casey

Ryan Casey

I was born during the golden years of adventure games. My first foray into gaming was with Broderbund's revised version "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" That was around 1995, on my Compaq Presario that my dad wouldn’t let me use every day. Eventually, I captured all 40 criminals and moved on to collecting all other games in the series. That’s when my obsession with mysteries started! :-)Then, when I got a gift card to CompUSA, I found "Nancy Drew: Message in a Haunted Mansion." Having been turned on to the books by my first cousin (a bad idea on her part, for sure), I eagerly snatched it up and spent hours playing with it. I remember having to order the strategy guide because I missed seeing a vital clue. Regardless, I was hooked on adventure games for good. I got my start at JA when I stumbled upon the site and enjoyed Ray and Randy's hilarious reviews. I emailed Randy and told him I was interested in ‘joining the JA community’ and attached a review of Cameron Files 2 as a resume of sorts. After brief correspondence, my big break came in October of 2003 when Randy asked him to review the latest Nancy Drew game, "Danger on Deception Island."I think my early reviews lacked substance as I tried to figure out how best to go about reviewing, but I believe that I have mastered my own style and take pleasure in reviewing the occasional detective game that comes along. Despite the fact that I cannot find a lot of time for adventure games nowadays, I have played and enjoyed “Scratches,” “Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express,” “Jack Orlando: Director’s Cut,” “Clue Chronicles,” “Tony Tough,” and others. I may be the youngest of the JA crew (not out of high school just yet!), but I still enjoy what I do; my only wish is that I had been born maybe ten years earlier so I could've seen more of the genre's golden age.

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