RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Lifeguard, by James Patterson, Andrew Gross, and Billy Campbell (Narrator)


Ned Kelly, lifeguard, pool boy, and chauffeur to the rich and influential of West Palm Beach, is waiting for the perfect score. A passionate afternoon with the beautiful Tess MacAuliffe and anticipation of the million dollars he'll collect for the evening's endeavor, a simple breaking and entry, has him dreaming of the life he'd always hoped to have. Instead, Ned finds himself on the run from both the Miami police and the FBI, a suspect in the deaths of his best friends and Tess, and accused of stealing over $60 million worth of valuable paintings. Strangely, his biggest supporter is Ellie Shurtleff, the FBI agent assigned to the Bureau's Art Theft and Fraud Department, the hostage he kidnaps as he tries to prove his innocence.

James Patterson and Andrew Gross spin a tale that engages the reader in the guessing game of "whodunnit" from the early chapters to the last few pages. The descriptions of the Miami social scene and the Boston culture of Ned's youth provide vivid contrasts and help the reader understand what would motivate a boy with a teaching degree from Boston University to agree to be part of an art heist. References to Pollock, Monet, Van Gogh, and other noted artists add an aura of glamour to the grisly tale of greed and murder.

The presentation of this book in audio format is artistically worthy of mention. Billy Campbell's narration provides just the right balance of casual observation and agitated intensity. He is able to give the female characters the suggestion of a feminine voice while instilling the voices of the male characters with the innocence and vulnerability or the menace that their actions indicate. Musical accompaniment and sound effects add to the dramatic impact of the reading.

This is a very good story with believable, sympathetic characters and unpredictable plot twists. References to noted art works tie the book to the real world, making the reader wonder about other works of art which have been stolen and either recovered or lost to the public. What makes this book great for a road trip is that is even better listened to a second time, or as Ned Kelly would describe it -- split aces.

Ruth Mormon

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