The Lifeguard Lawyer, by James Patterson and Doug Allyn

Seven stars

In an attempt to try something different, I’ve decided to open 2018 with a month of BookShots (or as many as I can handle until I go mad), those short stories thrillers that James Patterson began overseeing a few years ago. With piles of them at my disposal and more coming out each day, there is never a lack of them to pique my interest. Adding Doug Allyn to the mix will allow me to start the year with a new collaboration team and hopefully lead to many new and wonderful discoveries. Brian Lord has returned to his childhood community of Port Vale, where he is hiding from a recent traumatic event. It has only been a few days since his fiancée was blown up in a car bombing and Lord is one of the prime suspects. A former Assistant District Attorney, Lord is now working on the other side of the aisle, defending clients who surely have checkered pasts. After a heroic rescue at the beach, where Lord briefly returns to playing the role of his teenage job as a lifeguard, he is no longer able to hide from the spotlight and must answer questions surrounding the fatal explosion. Might one of Lord’s past clients have had a beef with his work, or seek to quiet a snitch from proceeding with their case? After being terminated for conduct deemed problematic with his current firm, Lord is out on his own, still with a handful of clients that no one else wants to touch.He’s happy to work with the authorities to find the person responsible for the bombing, but must also protect some of his own clients, both from self-incrimination and sleazy former spouses. In the meantime, Lord seeks to return to his job as a lifeguard, tired of the three-piece suits that muzzled him for so long. There, he meets an old friend and they take quite the walk down memory lane, revisiting unfinished business. Now, it is time for Lord to find the bomber before he, too, is killed, forever silencing this maverick legal mind. Patterson and Allyn craft a decent story that entertains for the duration of the piece. BookShot fans can praise this as one of the better stories in the ever-growing collection that seems to have no end. Hey, at least I will have fodder for the entire month!

I have a love/hate relationship with James Patterson and these Bookshots, though this does seem to be a decent piece of work, which allows Allyn to shine. The premise is good and the piece seems to flow effectively, based on the large number of characters who add their own flavour to the narrative. Brian Lord receives a decent backstory, as well as some redeeming characteristics as the story progresses, which allows the reader to build a bond with him throughout. He is not, however, the world’s more endearing lawyer, nor does he come across as one that I would want to read about for a full-length piece. Patterson and Allyn develop him just enough to forge a connection and pepper in some interesting secondary characters to keep the story interesting. Forcing Lord to process his feeling for his decently deceased fiancée alongside a teenage love interest allows the reader to see some of his more vulnerable aspects, though there is little time to truly tap into his sentiments for either woman. The array of other characters are interesting and serve their purpose, though I am not seeking anything too detailed or to have them grace the pages of another BookShot. The story in general has some strengths, as Lord wrestles with his life and work, while also trying to synthesise the recent bombing. Things move along effectively, and come to a head as Lord must make a decision about his life, with a lukewarm epiphany on which the reader can grasp. The story served its purpose and was entertaining, which is surely the premise of all BookShots, even those who test the waters ahead of new Patterson series.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Allyn, for presenting this well-developed piece I would read more of your collaborative work in BookShot form and will keep my eyes open for anything coming down the pipeline.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: