Author: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
ISBN: 978-0-316-01877-7

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Journalist Ben Hawkins has the book deal of a lifetime, guaranteeing a best-seller. He has been chosen by the chameleon-like serial killer, Henri Benoit—alias Charlie Rollins, alias Marco Benevenuto—to ghost-write his autobiography, literally a “do or die” assignment.

After the disappearance of super model Kim McDaniels, Hawkins is sent to Maui by his employer, the L. A. Times, to cover the story. There, he meets and befriends Kim’s parents, Levon and Barbara, who have arrived in Maui as a result of a mysterious dead-of-night phone call telling them that Kim has “fallen into bad hands.”

Since Swimsuit is narrated in an “after the fact” style—Hawkins is telling the story after Henri Benoit has confessed his crimes in interviews with the author—there is little suspense in the novel. Almost immediately, in a scene whose description is edging towards being gratuitously graphic, readers learn that Henri has brutally slaughtered Kim. Not only has Henri beheaded his victim but also he has filmed the gory action.

Henri Benoit is a contract killer creating videos for an international group called The Alliance, a clandestine group of voyeurs who pay well for visually recorded assassinations. In an attempt to improve his creativity to meet the growing demands of The Alliance, Henri decides to turn the aftermath of Kim McDaniels’ murder into a feature-length documentary. To this end, he abducts her parents after luring them from Maui to Oahu.

Having witnessed Ben Hawkins in friendly consultation with the McDanielses, Henri hatches the idea of Ben telling his story. Forced by threat of death to himself and his lover Amanda, Ben has no choice but to accept.

New murders occur in Hawaii; earlier murders are discovered; related murders are uncovered in the Bahamas. With implausible swiftness, murders commence in France and Switzerland as Henri, with almost absurd hippity-hop haste, attempts to control, to manipulate the events unfolding in his life story.

The final sequence of events leading up to the climax of Swimsuit are—sadly, for devoted fans of Patterson and co-author Maxine Paetro—cliché and predictable: the villain gains the upper hand; the hero’s honey blunders into harm’s way. Nevertheless, loyal fans do get a serving of standard Patterson/Paetro features—for instance, those delightfully short chapters that rev-up the plot.

While disappointing on some levels, Swimsuit is a good choice for travel reading. It will help while away long airport waits and interminable airplane flights.

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