A boring, overdone story line

2012-03-07 00:00

AT one time, Andrew Gross sold sportswear. Then, one fateful day, he was apparently spotted and recruited by James Patterson to join his writing team — or perhaps sweatshop would be a more appropriate term.

One can picture these hapless beings corralled in an underground bunker somewhere in the States, presided over, Simon Legree-like, by Patterson, compelled to write by numbers, churning out thousands of words daily.

One “international bestseller” after another pours forth, to some of which Patterson graciously appends his own name. Others, like this one, go out into the world without it — but with his enthusiastic blessing on the back cover: he’s quoted as commenting: “A sexy-as-hell thriller.” There are also endorsements from Lee Child (“fantastic”) and Harlan Coben (“A ... stay-up-all-night thrill ri-de”). Can they actually have read the book? If so, one can only assume they were paid handsomely to set down such rot.

The yarn itself, written by numbers like the rest, has a well-worn (or tired) theme. Respected plastic surgeon Dr Henry Steadman suddenly finds himself in an awful pickle, first becoming the prime suspect in a cop shooting, then framed for the murder of an old friend. On the run, he can’t ask for help because his beloved daughter has been kidnapped and threats have been made. Beginning to realise that he’s the target of some crazed and vengeful plotter, he focuses on two interlinked priorities — the first, to survive, the second to rescue his daughter.

Luckily, he happens upon state-trooper Carrie Holmes, who can not only help prove his innocence, but also is very nice and quite dishy, and seems not to mind putting her job at risk on his behalf.

Stay-up-all-night? Sexy-as-hell? No, no. Not a bad antidote to insomnia, though. Yawn. 

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