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Swimsuit - James Patterson
Member Name: QueenElf
Swimsuit - James Patterson
Advantages: Very readable, A page-turner.
Disadvantages: x-rated sexually explicit with violence.
I'm a real fan of James Patterson and have most of his Alex Cross books, but he is such a prolific writer that there are still many of books I have yet to read. So coming across this one in the library I couldn't wait to read it, especially with the notation,
'James Patterson's most shocking and seductive story yet.' With that and the write-up it sounded like I was in for a good read and so I gave up most of my time on Sunday to read it.
I should mention that the co-writer on this book is Maxine Paetro, a writer who has collaborated with him before now. It's hard to say how much input she had into this book, I imagine it's more a man's story, yet I could be wrong, some women write shockingly explicit books and this comes under that category.
When a beautiful model goes missing dressed just in her swimsuit from a photo shoot it follows that the people closest to her will worry, after all, grown women don't just take off in their beachwear. Fearing for her life, her parents fly to Maui but they are not the only ones making that journey. Ex cop and would-be writer and journalist, Ben Hawkins, is sent by his paper, The L.A.Times, to get the story behind the disappearance. The local police who don't seem that worried staggers Ben and their ineptitude spurs him on to greater efforts.
It's not long before Kim is found dead, decapitated and obviously raped and tortured. As the body count starts to rise Ben knows there is a serial killer on the loose, a psychopath who won't stop until he is caught. Without any emotions and devoid of remorse, Ben knows the killings will escalate until nobody is safe and that includes both him and his partner, Amanda.
Good versus evil.
This is such a powerful story that the ordinary characterization is inadequate to describe the theme running through the book. I'm used to reviewing books where there are strong or weak characters, but evil characters are something entirely different. I thought Ben would be fairly easy to describe, but he also is quite different from Patterson's family man and psychologist, Alex Cross. There is some similarity with the character of Ben having a police background, he is also in a stable relationship and is a genuine man, but the similarities stop there. Ben is harder and more worldly-wise in some ways than family man, Cross. His motivation is different but otherwise I thought the way of telling the story by Ben's account quite similar to that of Cross's character.
The Villain of the story is hard to describe without giving away more of the story, which I wouldn't like to do. His reasons for the killings are many-fold, so it's hard to pin him down. One reason is a financial one that adds an additional horror to the slayings. From early in the book we know that Ben Hawkins is somehow writing of the killer's story from first-hand knowledge, but how and why is part of the plot. He is totally without feelings, or is he? Without writing an x-rated review I can only say that the things that the killer does to the women and the graphic descriptions in the book are unlike anything I've read before. The author/s, are taking us into the mind of a man that enjoys both the sexual side of the killings and the moment when he does the 'deed.' The writing is full of the feelings of the murderer and spares the reader nothing at all. I can honestly say it's somehow worse than Hannibal Lecter because you feel like your own mind has been polluted.
Then there are the victims and fortunately we don't have to 'hear' their fear and torment too much, though it was still far too much for my liking. I nearly stopped reading and I don't abandon a book lightly. I had to read something a bit light and fluffy afterwards to get the images out of my head.
Amanda, Ben's strong and lovely fiancé is given plenty of her own character and that does give some light in the darkness. However, it's not too long before the reader starts to worry for her safety and the cruel way the killer goads both her and Ben. Of course there are also the parents, the friends and lovers of the slaughtered girls and women.
I was honestly shocked by the level of sex and violence in this book. It's really graphic and should have a warning on the book, as I'd hate a teenager to get their hands on this. There is a market for this type of gratuitous sexual torture and it's not normally in a James Patterson novel. If you think I'm laboring the point it's because I know some reader will feel I've taken a prudish view, when, in fact, I'm a real horror fan. Perhaps it's because I felt guilty after reading some of the worse parts? Only my own conscience can answer that one.
The story itself is well plotted and the narrative speeds along with Patterson's usual very short paragraphs. I think it's the first time I've been glad of that. Not that the torture abated because of a chapter break, instead it gave the killer time to catch his breath before he found another way to inflict maxim pain and suffering to his victims.
Somehow I have to find some redeeming virtue in the book or I would despair of reading it. I can't even say the ending is satisfactory, though it does have some shock value.
It's extremely well written with descriptive elements and the mood settings are carefully done so the reader feels a part of the action. The language is not too bad, which tends to make the violence even worse somehow. There is some of the banter that is exclusively Patterson and I found it hard to tell which parts his co-writer wrote. Did she give the insight into the female mind?
I wish I could say this is a good book; I've never felt let down by a Patterson novel before. The fact that I've struggled to find anything good shows how much this affected me personally. If you can justify some pornography to sell a book then this is for you. It's certainly earns the title of most shocking but I'll pass on the seductive, headless corpse don't do much for my libido. Sorry James and Maxine but bring back Alex Cross and redeem yourselves.
Thanks for reading and I hope I haven't offended anyone.
My copy was a library hardback and retails at £10.99. Paperbacks are £4.79 with used from 1p plus postage.
Summary: Not a book I'd expect from such a good author.