James Patterson


"Lifeguard"

(Reviewed by Kam Aures OCT 30, 2005)

“It was Mickey’s plan, down to the last detail. Only he knew it.
And how it all fit together.
There was this fabulous house on South Ocean Boulevard. On Billionaire’s Row in Palm Beach. It even had a name. Casa De Mare.
Ocean House.
And in it, 50 to 60 million dollars’ worth of world-class art. A Picasso. A Cezanne. A Jackson Pollack. Probably other valuable stuff, too. But Mickey was clear only these three were to be taken.
There was a mastermind behind the job. Went by the name of Dr. Gatchet. Mickey wouldn’t tell us who it was. The whipped cream and cherry on top was that we didn’t even have to fence the stuff. Just textbook B and E. Our cut was 10 percent in cash. Five million dollars.”

Ned Kelly is a lifeguard at a resort in Florida when he meets Tess McAuliffe, the woman of his dreams. They come from completely different worlds. He is used to working hard to make ends meet and she is used to having things handed to her. However, things are not always as they seem and soon Ned will find out that everything he thought was true about her really isn’t.

Ned and his fellow Brockton, Massachusetts friends recently moved down to Florida to work when they are presented with the opportunity of a lifetime, on last heist. They simply need to break into a rich art collector’s home and steal three paintings. They have the alarm code and they know the exact locations of the paintings so it should be a piece of cake. Once they get the paintings they get five million dollars. Ned’s job in the heist is to go to a couple of other houses and set off the alarms so that the cops are running all over town and not where they are stealing the art from. However, something goes horribly wrong. When Ned’s friends get to the house the art is not there! Before Ned can get back to his friends they are brutally murdered and so is Tess. Because of his involvement with both parties he runs, as he knows that he will be a wanted man by both the FBI and the murderers.

Like all other James Patterson novels, Lifeguard, is a fast read with short chapters. While I did enjoy the book I did not think that it was as suspenseful or engaging as some of Patterson’s previous works. It is a good story, but it just didn’t pull me in and make me want to read from cover to cover in one sitting.

The authors do a great job when it comes to developing the two main characters in the novel. Nick Kelly and Ellie Shurtlef (from the FBI Art Theft & Fraud department) are two very interesting people and I enjoyed learning about their lives. Ellie is a very spunky agent who feels the need to prove herself because everyone thinks that her art degree is a joke.
Even her own boss treats her like she is incompetent and out of her league when she offers her ideas up on the case. Some parts of the novel involving Ellie and the FBI seem to me to be a tad bit unrealistic. I can’t really elaborate on that point without giving away major parts of the book so I will let you discover what I am referring to on your own.

I like the fast rate at which James Patterson and his co-authors are cranking out novels but it seems as they are lacking the quality that they had when there was a good length of time between them. I am not saying that his recent novels are mediocre because they are not. They are just not as engaging and thrilling as they used to be. Lifeguard still makes for a decent read and would be a good book to bring to the beach. Though, if you are just discovering James Patterson for the first time I recommend trying some of his earlier novels first, such as the Women’s Murder Club series.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 128 reviews
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"Honeymoon"

(Reviewed by Kam Aures MAR 27, 2005)

"THINGS AREN'T ALWAYS as they appear.
One minute, I'm totally fine.
The next, I'm hunched over and clutching my stomach in sheer agony. What the hell is happening to me?
I have no idea. All I know is what I feel, and what I feel I can't believe. It's as if the lining of my stomach is suddenly peeling away with a corrosive burn. I'm screaming and I'm moaning, but most of all
I'm praying - praying for this to stop.
It doesn't."

So begins James Patterson's novel, which he co-authored with thriller writer Howard Roughan. It doesn't take long to realize what this selected passage from the Prologue is referring to. Nora Sinclair is a beautiful Interior Designer with many secrets. The inside flap of the dust jacket creates an accurate picture of her: "She has the looks. The career. The clothes. The wit. The sophistication. The tantalizing sex appeal. The whole extraordinary package - and men fall in line to court her. She doesn;t just attract men, she enthralls them." She is already wealthy from the inheritance of her first husband and is now engaged to a hedge-fund manager in New York AND married to a famous author in Boston.

Using traveling for her career as an alibi she is able to keep the relationships without creating suspicion. Her intent is to kill them both and transfer their offshore bank account money to an offshore account that she set up for herself. In the beginning of the book she murders Connor, the man she is engaged to, by slipping an undetectable poison into his food. John O'Hara, an FBI agent, posing as a representative from a life insurance company tries to find out if Nora had something to do with Connor's death. As he works undercover trying to find out her secrets he too is drawn in by her seduction.

While this novel is a typical James Patterson novel in some ways, it disappoints in others. I have always liked the format of his books. I especially enjoy his short two to four page chapters and this book is no different. All of his novels that I have read also move at a very fast pace and I usually fly through them in about a day or two. Once again, this novel is no exception.

However, there were a couple of areas where this novel falls short for me. The first area is in character development. The characters of Nora Sinclair and John O'Hara are very complex and well-developed, but the remaining characters are not.

One character in particular that I would have liked to learn more about is Nora's mother, Olivia Sinclair, who resides in The Pine Woods Psychiatric Facility. Olivia went to prison for killing her husband and was moved to the facility after some incidents at the prison. Nora visits her every month and almost always brings her a novel to read. Apparently Olivia is so "out of it" that she does not recognize her own daughter and while she claims she loves to read she always reads the books upside down. This is a ploy though as Patterson reveals to us. "Moments later, when no one was there, Olivia removed the jacket from her new novel and flipped it around. With the pages right side up and the jacket upside down, she began to read." Patterson always comes up with such interesting characters and this is one character I would have loved to learn more about. I feel there are a lot of loose ends with this part of the storyline.

Another reason that this novel falls short for me was in the predictability of the plot. In the beginning the book was suspenseful and a page-turner and I was under the impression that this was going to be an incredible novel. However, a little of the way into it I could see exactly where it was going to go.

The ending of the book also seemed a little abrupt and flat. If you want an easy, fast-paced read I would recommend this book because in spite of its faults it was still an enjoyable read. If you are looking to read the "2005 International Thriller of the Year" (which the book has been named), I think you will be let down. Honeymoon, while to me was not "Thriller
of the Year" was still an engaging read.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 81 reviews


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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)

 

*Sequels

The Women's Murder Club series:

Featuring Alex Cross:

Featuring Detective Michael Bennett:

Daniel X:

Maximum Ride:

More Teen Sci-Fi:

Middle School series:

 

Nonfiction:

 

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Book Marks:

 

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About the Author:

James PattersonJames Patterson is one of the top-selling novelists in the world today. His debut novel, The Thomas Berryman Number, won the Edgar Award for the best first mystery novel. It was published in 1976 when he was just twenty-seven years old.

Patterson grew up in Newburgh, New York. He graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English from Manhattan College and summa cum laude with an M.A. in English from Vanderbilt University.

Patterson lives in Palm Beach County, Florida, with his wife and their son.

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