‘Sail’ by James Patterson and Howard Roughan

Sail by James Patterson & Howard Roughan is a crime thriller set in America
Photo Credit: Paul Gamble


Star Rating: ***

Pages: 448 (paperback edition)

First published in 2009 by Arrow Books

Whilst I know that many see James Patterson no longer as an author but simply as an avenue for newer authors to get published there is something easy-reading about the books with his name on.

If you are after a book that you can pick up, read without thinking and complete within hours then this is a book for you.

The Story

Tragically a family are left devastated when, four years earlier, their father is killing during a routine diving trip. To add insult, he was not alone but with his latest fling, which completely knocks his wife Katherine. As a successful Cardiac Surgeon, always at the hospital, she perhaps knew that her husband was unfaithful but to have these thoughts realised was still a further heart-attack to bear.

After Stuart Dunne passes away, his children fly off the rails and it would appear that the family are falling apart. With an anorexic daughter, Carrie, and a pot-smoking son Mark, it’s no surprise that her youngest child, Ernie, has resorted to finding answers in books and eating his weight in food.

To try to bring her family back together, Katherine decides to take them all on a summer vacation, a drawn-out two-month trip of isolation on ‘The Family Dunne’, the very same boat that Stuart was sailing the day he died. Not much of a sailor, Katherine, decides to enlist the help of Jake, Stuart’s brother, who is a seasoned yachtsman and a great ally to have whilst trying to piece her family back together.

Within minutes of reading, everyone knows that this is not going to go smoothly. How can it? The boat is already jinxed and for many sailors they would never consider taking it back out on the water – so what makes Jake different? Simply, he would do anything for Katherine.

Before Jake sees the family he can hear them, bickering along the waterways as they head towards him. When did they become so spoilt? Before, or after Stuart died? Not one of them have considered picking up a bag knowing that the chauffeur will have to drag the luggage down if he wants a good tip. Then he sees Katherine, saying goodbye to her new husband of eight months, Peter Carlyle, a successful lawyer with a history of ruthlessly getting what he wants.

Perhaps first impressions are deceiving, but in this case, they really do look like they are in love. Or are they?

After laying down a few grounds rule, Jake gives the orders and they cruise out of the harbour and into the open waters on their way to paradise and after the initial groans and gripes from the kids all seems to be going well. That is until Carrie decided to try and take her own life and jump overboard. Taking control, and jumping in after her, Jake soon realises that Carrie is far stronger than she looks and really is willing to take him down with her. After several minutes fighting, she does eventually give in and returns to ‘The Family Dunne’ but it would be remiss of the family to think that all was once again well; sending Mark down for towels he quickly returns to inform the rest of the family that they are sinking.

With water rushing in, the only thing to do is to find the source of the problem. Once again, taking charge, Jake jumps into action and diving into the water to stop the stem of water that is currently flowing in. Katherine, on the other hand, is ready to call it in and get towed back to the harbour and the relative safety of dry land. So what stops her? Is it the thought of returning to her life as a failing mother?

Luckily, Jake is about to fix the problem and they continue on their way in the hope that they can quickly salvage the trip. Unbeknown to them however, things are about to get much worse.

With the darkness comes their potential undoing. A storm. One that was unpredicted and certainly one that is unpredictable. It’s all hands on deck, literally, to tie things down in an attempt to save as much as possible. Jake can’t do it alone, so calling Mark to help they both head out into the storm. Within minutes both are overboard and struggling to keep their heads above water, even with lifejackets on. Katherine goes into panic mode and Carrie and Ernie stay below deck as told, none the wiser to the calamity going on above them.

It does however, seem that the gods are on their side on this occasion, with both being saved and returning to the relative safety of the cabin below. This is where their good luck will end.

The following morning there is a large explosion and they are all flung into the water with no chance of being able to return to the boat – it has been completely demolished. The only question – was it an accident?

The story then unravels at pace. The coast guard are called in to find them and Peter appears to be the devastated husband. Appears!!!

Problem after problem follows. The co-ordinates provided by the tracking devices aboard are either not accurate or they have sent the search party to the wrong location, the dotting husband finds himself in a comprising position with a ‘girlfriend’ and one plucky investigator, Ellen, from the DEA believes that all is not as it seems.

Will the family survive? Will they ever be found? What part has Peter played in their disappearance? Will justice ever be done?

Final Thoughts

This is a novel that requires little thinking. For a time, you believe you know what is going to happen next and then a twist is written in that will leave some retracing pages to see where they missed the signs. It is not a complex story, it is one that you could read in a matter of hours. Will it leave you wanting more from the author? Not necessarily. It is not a novel that you fully immerse yourself into leading you to feel emotional when you have finished it. It is a gap-filling novel. It’s the kind of book you read after finishing a heavy-going, thought-provoking novel.

Would I recommend this James Patterson Book?

It is a book I will probably easily forget but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it. Compared to many of James Patterson’s novels this is a fresh storyline and one that people may not expect from him or one of his collaborators.

Want to order a copy of this novel?  Follow this link to take you start to Amazon (Hardback, Paperback, Kindle and Audio versions available).

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