James Patterson has published forty-one books (two in May 2007) since 1976. Three of those have been re-realeased, making it forty-four total seperate titles sold. He really struck gold in 1998 with When the Wind Blows- he was published in "mass market paperback" for the first time in 1999. Since then, he has published 28 new books, and re-released three books- two under different titles (JP). Nearly two thirds of his books have been published in one third of his life as a published author.
His name has become a brand. The publishers found a few tens of thousands of people who will buy a James Patterson book because it's a James Patterson book, and the rest of the market doesn't read him. His books all tend to be about the same thing- an instantly likable character loses someone and kills the killer, with some sweet sex and sweeter action scenes thrown in. They're formula novels, designed to sell. I started to read Lifeguard, which he co-wrote with Andrew Gross (or at least Patterson's name was put on the cover to guarantee sales) in 2005. Within the first paragraph I gathered that I was in a sexy place with sexy people who didn't expect to be so sexy with each other, and one of them is a lifeguard. They met at the beach. They lounge in sexiness discussing their sexiness and how unexpected it was for the remaining two pages of the chapter, whereupon they start to have sex again. The next chapter is how they met- he was looking sexy on the beach, she was looking sexy and Australian on the beach, they got some food, and they had sex. They "never ever made it to dessert" (LG 10). I guess they made some sex right there on the restaurant floor. Chapter three goes back to the bedroom, where the sex is done but the sexiness lingers like the scent of spoiled pork slathered in rancid mayonnaise on a fresh spring morning. They discuss how nice it was to have sex, Lifeguard promises Horrendously Sexy Australian that things will be different a few days from now, after he does something that somehow gives him total freedom. Radioactively Hot Australian asks him if he's going to rob a bank- and it "actually turn[ed him] on that she would even ask something like that. 'I dunno,' [he] said, grinning, 'but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do,'" (LG 13) and with what I must assume is an absolutely rabid hard-on, Lifeguard walks out the door. At this point, there are some assumptions I made about the rest of the storyline. A character instantly recognizable as "the bad guy" will be mean to Carcinogenously Hot Australian, then he'll kill her and get away with it. LIfeguard, meanwhile, will do his mysterious thing, which is most likely dangerous and illegal, and then he'll be chased after by the police or the FBI or terrorists or spies, and eventually he'll somehow meet Dead Sexy Australian's killer, and kill him, and oh man just wait until you see the sex along the way, sex like you wouldn't even believe, sex enough to chafe, and action, too, enough action to make you want to pick up a gun and fire it indiscriminately at all the windows because they're mocking you!
I then read the back of the book:
"The wildest thriller yet from 'one of America's most influential
authors' (New York Times) Working as a lifeguard at a luxurious Florida
resort, Ned Kelly meets the woman of his dreams. It feels perfect in every
way- except that she's used to caviar and Manalo Blahniks, and he's used to
burgers and flip-flops. So when Ned's cousin offers to cut him in on a fast
break-and-enter job, Ned can't turn it down. The risk is high, and the reward
is even greater- $5 million. But the robbery goes devastatingly wrong.
Forced to run away from his town and the woman he's fallen in love with,
Ned knows that only distance and secrecy can save his life. But who is
pursuing him? The FBI? Whoever sabotaged the heist? Or is it all somehow
tied in to his new love- and his oldest enemies?"
I guessed the storyline of the book after three chapters, 13 pages of a 401 page book. The back of the book didn't mention that the girl died, but that also turned out to be right once I started the fourth chapter. At that point my fingers started burning and I hurled the book away from me- it began shrieking and flapping around like a crazed Batduck, and I had to beat it into the ground with, coincidentally enough, How to Beat a Batduck into the Ground for Dummies. It's a huge book, but all the pages are blank and I have yet to figure out how to correctly beat a Batduck into the ground, as the For Dummies chaps still haven't responded to any of my Teddy-grams.