Swimsuit

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Swimsuit’s author James Patterson has around 50 books to his name and rates 13 lines as an introduction.  The book, however, has another author, a Maxine Paetro who gets her name in very small type on the cover in a non-contrasting color, and rates only two lines in the introduction.  There is probably a good tale there somewhere!

However, Swimsuit (ISBN 978-0-0995-3897-4, Arrow Books, 2009) is indicated on the cover as being James Patterson’s “most shocking and seductive story yet.”  (So just what did Mrs Paetro do, I wonder?)

The book’s theme is around a serial killer who decides he wants his life story made into a book and blackmails Ben Hawkins, a writer, to write it and get it published.  That blackmail includes watching video tapes made by the serial killer of the executions, but done in such a way that Hawkins cannot go to the police.

The story unfolds very quickly, with the first murder completed by page 37, and then goes on from there.  With the very short chapters (some of them merely a page and a half) this keeps the action bounding along at a quick pace.  And the action consists of several more horrific murders.

The ‘swimsuit’ is the super model who leaves the book on page 37, but at that point the hero, Hawkins, comes on the scene, but Patterson (or Paetro?) then leads the reader on a goose chase with the parents of the murdered model.  This ploy completely confuses the reader and you are left wondering just in which direction you are being led – until the parents become victims as well.

The author(s) use the device of successive chapters to describe the scene from the writer’s point of view and then again from the killer’s take on it all.  At those points you somehow want to warn Ben of the danger he is in.

What compounds the dangers is the fact that the serial killer is the master of disguises and takes on different personalities which confuse anyone looking for the last iteration.  Not only a master of disguises, but also a meticulous planner so that the executions go totally according to plan, and are such that they instil extreme fear in the victim before death.  The killer believing that the seconds between living and dying are important.

It then becomes apparent that the killer is actually videoing the executions on behalf of a world-wide ring of voyeurs of snuff movies.  Members of this group are financially very off and the serial killer is leading a life of luxury paid for by the voyeurs.  A very sick society.

At B. 385 on the Bookazine shelves it is a bargain for the followers of thrillers, but for me, some obvious glaring errors in the forensics spoiled it.  The villain, for example, cleans everything in the hotel room where he commits a murder, so that there is no DNA evidence.  I’m afraid that wiping doorknobs is not enough.  He would have to collect every single hair that he might have shed to ensure there was no DNA to lead the police to him.