Beach bum Ned Kelly, a part-time lifeguard, pool guy and errand runner in Palm Beach, Fla., has just scored with beautiful, rich Tess McAuliffe. Life sure is looking up, especially from his days back in chilly South Boston. He’s looking forward to another round with Tess, but first he has to help some smalltime hoodlum pals commit a $60-million art heist. It’s supposed to be an easy job, but everything goes to hell-the paintings they were after weren’t even there-and soon enough his pals are all dead, as is Tess. Ned goes on the run, accused of the murders and the heist as well. He flees back to Boston, but gets caught by cute-as-a-button FBI agent Ellie Shurtleff, assigned to investigate the case for the agency’s Art Theft and Fraud department. After some rough stuff, he takes her hostage and in short order they’ve bonded. Ellie can see that Ned’s a good guy who could never have committed the crimes he’s charged with, so the two of them join forces to bring down the actual thieves and killers. It’s a twisty story that will engage the interest of beach-goers everywhere, whose sun-addled brains will put up with pedestrian writing and an improbable plot just to find out exactly whodunit and why.
Don’t be fooled by the title of Patterson’s latest thrilling yarn-the action goes far beyond the beach. Ned Kelly grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Brockton, but he got out, and now his life seems to be falling into place. He’s interested in a beautiful woman named Tess and has decided to chance one last heist with four of his childhood friends. Ned’s job is simple-all he has to do is set off several house alarms while his friends hit the real target, the mansion of Dennis Stratton, to steal three valuable paintings. But when Ned’s friends enter the house and discover the paintings already gone, they realize they’ve been double-crossed, and before Ned can reach them, all four are murdered. Then Tess is found dead in her hotel room, and, fearing how bad things are looking for him, Ned goes on the lam, hoping to clear his name. He goes back to Brockton to find his father, a small-time criminal he suspects may have been involved in setting up his friends. He’s being pursued by Federal Agent Ellie Shurtleff, an art expert, who becomes an unlikely ally. Packing all the punches readers have come to expect from Patterson’s books, this one delivers at every turn.