Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Lawyer Lifeguard by James Patterson and Doug Allyn

Last year, after I read THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING by James Patterson and Bill Clinton, I wanted to read another Patterson book. There are a lot to choose from, so when I was at the grocery store a week ago, I made the choice of MURDER IN PARADISE. It’s a print collection of three of Patterson’s BookShots stories, quick reads that cost less than five dollars. The three stories in the collection all appeared in ebook first, so this was the first time in print. Of the three co-authors Patterson used, the only name I knew was Duane Swierczynski, which more than enough reason to buy the book. But Doug Allyn’s story, THE LAWYER LIFEGUARD, came first in the paperback and I read it.

Part of modern book description writing is to pose a question of the potential reader. For THE LAWYER LIFEGUARD, the title itself was the first intriguing piece. How do those two words go together? It’s almost a riff off of Michael Connelly’s THE LINCOLN LAWYER. Anyway, the initial question presented in the description was this: Are you the lawyer who got blown up with his girlfriend?  If I had seen the original standalone ebook, I would easily keep reading the description, but I’ll admit the rest of the description is all but mediocre. But what wasn’t mediocre was page one. It describes a seemingly idyllic scene on Lake Huron’s beach. The lawyer/survivor in question is there, taking in the scenes. And he’s holding a pistol, because he blames himself for his fiancée’s death. (By the way, the word ‘fiancée’ should have been used in the description versus ‘girlfriend.’) He’s wondering if the beach is the best place to kill himself when he notices a dog in the water. The poor thing has a ball in its mouth and its drowning. Instinct kicks in, and Brian Lord saves the dog. The various cell phones capture the moment and it goes viral.

And then Lord’s life really takes a nose dive.

The police question him about the car bomb that killed his fiancée. The main partner in his law firm shows up in the hospital to fire him in person. One of his client’s has a stalker ex-husband who just happens to be a state trooper who knows all the ins and outs of working the system. Things go from bad to worse as the story moves on at a rapid-fire pace.

One of Patterson’s initiatives with BookShots is to have a compelling story boiled down to its essence. And that’s pretty much the case here. Little pieces of description almost act as short hand. The reader fills in the gaps of how certain characters look. Short chapters propel the story forward. I finished the 152-page story in two sittings. That in itself is rather nifty, and likely what Patterson is after with things like BookShots. With so many choices available to folks—movies, TV, video games, internet—having a large book might seem too daunting. But few people should shy away from a 152-page book.

THE LAWYER LIFEGUARD has some pretty good twists and turns and, most important of all, I was entertained. I was happy to turn away from the TV for those two reading sessions. Granted, I’m a reader so I’m an easy mark, but this is the kind of book that might get a non-reader to open a book and read. And that’s a great thing.

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