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Lifeguard    by James Patterson & Andrew Gross order for
by James Patterson
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I enjoyed previous collaborations between James Patterson & Andrew Gross in Women's Murder Club episodes and The Jester, and Lifeguard is even better. This hero gets on the wrong side of the law, but he pays his dues before the obligatory happy and successful ending. He shares a name, Ned Kelly, with Australia's most famous bushranger (outlaw). As the story opens, Ned is on top of the world. He's made the 'perfect score', after meeting lovely, rich Tess McAuliffe on the beach, and he and his four best friends are about to make themselves five million dollars, in an art robbery masterminded by the mysterious Dr. Gachet. Ned's role is to set off alarms around town, to keep the police occupied.

Of course, it's never that simple, and soon Ned is on the run from the law, a suspect in five deaths. He's desperate to avenge the murders of his friends and his lover, and to find out who set them up. He doesn't help his case by abducting FBI Special Agent Ellie Shurtleff, who heads the new Art Theft and Fraud department for south Florida. However, he does convince her of his innocence, to the point that she helps him, at the same time as she pursues her own investigation. Other allies are Kelly's younger (law student) brother David, his rich boss (Ned cleans his pool and does odd jobs) Sol, and a Kiwi (New Zealander) stuntman friend, Geoff. It takes all of them to figure out who's behind what happened, and naturally (what else in a Patterson thriller?) there are plenty of surprises, violence, car chases and non-stop action, along the way.

It's summertime and Lifeguard is the perfect choice for easy, silky smooth reading, with engaging leads, an intriguing puzzle, and a satisfying ending. Fans will be thrilled.

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