Look at those muscles. Seriously, look at them. This is a book for teenagers and that guy is at least 35. A chiseled, five-o’clock–shadowed, Top Gun–handsome 35 years old. This isn’t just any lifeguard, young ladies. This is The Lifeguard by Richie Tankersley Cusick.
I’ve decided to read through Cusick’s books chronologically, and while The Lifeguard is her first Point book, it isn’t her first novel. That distinction goes to 1984’s Evil on the Bayou, which was released as part of Dell’s Twilight: Where Darkness Begins series. Dell ceased publishing Twilight about four years before Point barged onto the scene like a brash young boxer with something to prove (sort of), but Twilight, with its twenty-six standalone young adult horror titles, very much blazed Point’s trail. Casting an eye over Twilight’s list of books, Evil on the Bayou is the only title I can definitely remember reading, but the series had a decent stable of authors so it might be worth a punt if you can find them.
Evil on the Bayou wasn’t bad at all, very atmospheric, and I think it was the only novel Cusick set in her native Louisiana. It’s all sticky sexy heat, voodoo, and moss-dripped bayous–I was reminded of it when I watched The Skeleton Key. Like, really reminded of it. (Maybe someday soon I’ll read the book and then watch the film to see how similar they truly are–you know, make a night of it. A laaame night.) Sadly, since it’s not Point it’s out of scope for our purposes, so these brief reminiscences will have to suffice.
On to The Lifeguard. Now, in my previous post I mentioned that Point Horror began in the early nineties, and some sources confirm that, but Cusick’s own website (does she know I’m stalking her?) states that The Lifeguard was published in 1988. So let’s take her word for it–in which case, this must have been one of the series’ launch titles. Now, I don’t think this was the first book of hers I read–that was probably Teacher’s Pet or Trick or Treat–but it was an early one. It wasn’t one of my favorites, but neither was it an unqualified stinker. I loved the remote, isolated beach location, which may or may not have influenced the establishment of my current abode by the sea. I technically lived by a body of water when I read this book as a kid, but it was a thirty-minute drive away and the ‘beaches’ were covered in industrial and medical waste, so sand and surf wasn’t really part of my childhood.
Anyhoo, lifeguards and beaches and sun and romance and murder and clean water and, crucially, no parents. That’s what I remember of The Lifeguard.
Hang on…did I just say MURDER?!
Note: All pre-reading Part 1 posts will henceforth be posted on Thursdays. Part 2 (The Reviewening) will be posted on Mondays.