Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

SAIL by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

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James Patterson and Howard Roughan have produced another winning beach read guaranteed to keep the pages turning. Sail is a stand-alone novel instead of one of his series (Alex Cross, Women’s Murder Club), and has the added facet that everyone is at risk in this one. Nobody has to come back for the sequel, and some of the characters don’t.

Cardiac surgeon Anne Dunne has been stressed out by the twists and turns her life has taken. Her husband has died and she barely held it together. Then she got swept off her feet by Peter Carlyle, a dashing attorney. They’ve been married for a couple years, giving Anne time to heal some of her hurts and get her feet solidly back on the ground.

I like Patterson’s books for the sheer velocity of the story. He doesn’t provide more than a skeletal background for his principle characters, but that’s all that’s needed to understand the machinations he puts them all through.

Although a lot of Anne’s emotional turmoil is glossed over in the novel, I still felt her pain and uncertainty. But there simply wasn’t time to dwell on Anne’s loss because things constantly happened in the book. The authors introduced one vicious turn after another, and the Dunne family became more and more endangered.

However, the furious plotting robbed the characters a little. Anne organized the sailing vacation for her three children because she felt the family was falling apart. Everyone who has a busy family has felt that stress. Oldest son Mark has a drug problem, Carrie is suicidal, and Ernie has become strongly anti-social. These issues were introduced in a straight-forward manner, then resolved almost instantly. I feel I missed out on some of the character growth and interaction with the headlong pacing of the book, but I couldn’t stop turning the pages, which is exactly what the authors designed the book to do.

I really liked the character of Jake Dunne. He stepped onto the page and became real to me at once. He’s the solid kind of guy that will always see things through no matter how messy they get. But, like all of the characters in this novel, he has his secrets too.

Peter Carlyle, Anne’s new husband, turns out to be one of the blackest hearted villains I’ve seen in a while. He’s only out for himself. His relationship with his much younger girlfriend Bailey really sets the tone, and readers will learn to hate this guy, and fear his single-minded determination.

The international hitman Carlyle hires nicknames himself The Magician because of the ease with which he can make people disappear. He’s cool and calculating, and fills the story with menace.

Lost at sea, injured and dysfunctional, the Dunne family’s struggles will pull most thriller readers through to the end in a single sitting or two. They won’t be able to put the book down as the authors pile on one surprise after unexpected twist after impending doom. Sail runs before the wind as a perfect beach read now that summer is upon us.



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