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Sail    by James Patterson & Howard Roughan order for
by James Patterson
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Sail, by the ever popular James Patterson and his regular writing partner Howard Roughan (they wrote Honeymoon and You've Been Warned together), is smooth sailing for the reader but an exceptionally rough ride for its protagonists, forty-five year old heart surgeon Katherine Dunne and her three children - eighteen-year-old, bulimic Carrie, sixteen-year-old stoner Mark, and ten-year-old, relatively normal Ernie.

Katherine's husband Stuart died in a scuba diving accident four years before, leaving her with millions, and she has since married hotshot, charismatic lawyer Peter Carlyle. Her relationship with her children has deteriorated since their father's death. A desperate Katherine, who has always put her career first, has now decided to try to glue together her dysfunctional family (aside from her new husband Peter) via a marine bonding experience. They plan a 'sailboat extravaganza', along with Katherine's brother-in-law, the children's uncle Jake - who 'always said yes to Katherine' - on The Family Dunne, the boat from which Stuart was diving when he drowned.

The authors open their thriller by revealing that the Dunnes have been lost at sea, as evidence turns up that proves some may have survived. They then backtrack to lead readers through the action-packed, edge-of-your-seat drama and horrors that soon engulf this unlucky family. After the Dunnes bail out from an accident that almost fills the boat with seawater, sabotage causes them to lose the sailboat entirely, and results in serious injuries. They end up as castaways on a small island, but the malice that sent them there has not finished with them ... and readers get to see that motivated Magician in action, along with a determined DEA agent who risks her career on the Dunnes' behalf.

Reading Sail is rather like playing a video game. This headlong thriller will keep readers eyes' glued to its pages just to see what disaster is going to crash down on the poor Dunnes next. And it does have a bonding effect - as Katherine muses, 'How can it be that the more life throws at us the stronger we become?' Though the novel doesn't offer much in the way of character development, it makes the perfect beach read - as long as there's no sailing trip in the offing (definitely not recommended for shipboard reading!)

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