James Patterson and Maxine Paetro pair once more for a big summer splash called SWIMSUIT. Kim McDaniels is a gorgeous swimsuit model who is on a shoot in Hawaii when she suddenly turns up missing. Her parents rush to the islands after receiving a disturbing phone call that someone has their beloved daughter. Upon arriving in Hawaii and getting little to no information to satisfy them about how the authorities are looking for Kim, they are befriended by Ben Hawkins. Ben is a writer for the LA Times who was a cop at one time. He has been sent to Hawaii to cover the case of the missing, assumed kidnapped, model. Kim’s parents are so intent on finding her, that they aren’t careful when following leads and find themselves in the hands of the maniac who we find out really didn’t kidnap Kim, but rather murdered her.
It is when we meet the man of many faces, Henri Benoit, and realize he is a hired killer who works for a group known as The Alliance that the real twists and turns begin in this fast moving, typical page turning Patterson book. Benoit enjoys the work he does for an elite, while sick, group of people, for as he finds different ways of killing young women, he always videotapes it and sends it to The Alliance and is paid well in return. Benoit not only kills the woman, but after deciding on the next pick–always young, always attractive–he drugs them, or engages them to the point of trusting him, and then rapes them in a sick variety of ways. Here is where we see Patterson’s writing became a great deal more graphic than before, both in violence and at some times in gratuitous sex. However, it does tend to keep up the excitement and the story moving so it isn’t that inappropriate, just unusual for a James Patterson book.
Once Ben Hawkins leaves the islands, he thinks he has left the sick serial killer behind only to find it isn’t the end of things. The writers develop Ben Hawkins’ character very well as the reader will find themselves liking him and his girlfriend, Amanda. Hawkins is tough, but loving, and a character that you can believe could be real. When Ben and Amanda become targets of the serial killer, things really accelerate!
Several shocking things occur that make you ask yourself if you thought that was going to happen all along, or was it really a complete surprise? (and many things were a surprise to me)! At this point, we now have Benoit wanting immortality in some way as he captures Ben and threatens him, using Amanda of course, to get Ben to write his sick life story. Ben is cautious but almost finds himself intrigued in the sick revelations this killer tells and shows him. The writer in him, I believe, is almost convinced for a very brief time of what a good horror story this will all make.
However, when Ben realizes that Benoit has no intention of letting him and Amanda live once the story is finished, he takes on his old role of a cop and goes after the deranged killer. How the story twists and turns and culminates is exciting up to a point. However, this is where my only complaint, and, I think, it can be an important one, comes in. It is that I felt a little cheated by the authors. I felt like they ended the story much too quickly in a less than satisfying manner. It was almost as if the clock ran out of time to get things to the printer. I KNOW this could have been done better and it makes me wonder why it wasn’t. It also crossed my mind that some of what was left out may have been done so that Ben Hawkins might come back and become a new series for Patterson and Paetro. I think he is an interesting enough, engaging and likable character that just might join the ranks of Alex Cross and the Women’s Murder Club eventually. That remains to be seen. But all and all, I would recommend this book as it kept my attention and I wanted to, as always, read one more, short chapter, which would turn into ten, late into the night! SWIMSUIT is certainly a good summer beach book, and one that will make you glad that you are sipping a cool drink as you read it!
Karen D. Haney, Author/Developer of BOOKIN’ WITH BINGO (http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com), reviews books and interviews authors for her book blog. Reading and writing are her passion.