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Swimsuit    by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro order for
by James Patterson
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, who have collaborated on the hugely popular Women's Murder Club series, now bring us a standalone serial killer chiller in Swimsuit. It's the kind of twisted and twisty premise that only Patterson would devise - a psychopath produces documentaries for a nasty cabal of very wealthy (and very sick) folk around the world. Security and distribution are handled high tech over the Internet.

The story opens as a lovely and smart supermodel disappears on a photo shoot in Hawaii. After being on the receiving end of an eery phone call from the killer (a chameleon who blends impeccably into each new role he takes on), Kim McDaniels' middle class parents rush to the scene, desperate to find their beloved daughter. There they meet ex-cop turned mystery writer turned LA Times reporter Ben Hawkins, who balances his desire for a big story to re-energise his flagging career with compassion for the McDaniels. After he 'bulled his way into the black heart of a vile and compelling crime spree', Hawkins is horrified when the psychotic killer who calls himself Henri Benoit makes him 'part of the story'.

Benoit slips smoothly in and out of the shadows, playing multiple roles while producing and filming his grisly executions (each of which he ends with his trademark 'I hope everybody's happy') for the clients he calls the Peepers. He picks Ben Hawkins to play a very special part in his personal drama and ensures his compliance by demonstrating how easily he could target Ben's lover, pastry chef/biker chick Amanda Diaz. As Ben and Mandy frantically try to escape the trap in which they find themselves, and she gives him news that ups the ante considerably, Ben discovers that when you sup with the devil you need a very long spoon indeed.

Patterson's legion of fans will enjoy the trademark shockers and surprises in Swimsuit's sizzling plot. Enjoy it on the beach, but watch out for serial killers and sunburn!

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