Alert by James Patterson (Michael Bennett #8)

Synopsis: New York has seen more than its fair share of horrific attacks, but the city is about to be shaken in a way it never has before.

Two devastating catastrophes hit in quick succession, putting everyone on edge. Detective Michael Bennett is given the near impossible task of hunting down the shadowy terror group responsible.

Then a shocking assassination makes it clear that these inexplicable events are just the prelude to the biggest threat of all. Now Bennett is racing against the clock to save his beloved city – before the most destructive force he has ever faced tears it apart.

Kat’s Rating: 3/5

Kat’s Review: I really like the Michael Bennett series however sometimes the books can be a little bit hit and miss and sadly in this case for me it was just mediocre. Normally these books pull me in but for some reason this one felt stilted or maybe I just need a rest from reading about terrorism?!? I didn’t feel like Bennett really got his usual outing where he uses his brainpower. This seemed more about packing in as much action as is humanly possible.

We hardly get to see the Bennett clan at all which is another minus for me, although I did like the addition of Martin the kid sitter! I read this and was reasonably engaged but although the storyline ticked along it just felt like it had been churned out to keep people happy. Finished this in record time as I do with most Patterson books but got to the end and just know it’s unforgettable which is never a good sign. I will continue to read the next in the series as normally I love them so I guess the odd one or two I’m not overly enthused with isn’t so bad.

Burn by James Patterson (Michael Bennett #7)

Kat’s Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: Detective Michael Bennett finally returns to New York City – and to the most unsettling, horrific case of his career. At last, Detective Michael Bennett and his family are coming home to New York City. Thanks to Bennett, the ruthless crime lord whose vengeful mission forced the Bennett family into hiding has been brought down for good. Back in the city that never sleeps, Bennett takes over a chaotic Outreach Squad in Harlem, where he receives an unusual call: a man claims to have seen a group of well-dressed men holding a bizarre party in a condemned building. With no clear crime or evidence, Bennett dismisses the report. But when a charred body is found in that very same building, he is forced to take the caller seriously – and is drawn into an underground criminal world of terrifying depravity.

Kat’s Review: Mmmmm, I’m feeling a bit weird about this one. On the one hand the return of Michael Bennett and his clan was brilliant and fast-paced and all the usual descriptions. However, on the other hand there is a part of me that is a little bit disappointed in this latest release. Michael Bennett is fast becoming my favoured Patterson lead, and when he and his 10 kids and the nanny return to New York it seems like life is finally returning to normal. However as is always the case (especially in a Patterson book), normal is when you are managing a murder case or multiple killers!!! What threw me initially was Bennett’s re-assignment to a chaotic ‘outreach squad’ in Harlem. 

The outreach squad consists of coppers that aren’t wanted anywhere else. What happened though was the story and the characters were heating up nicely and I really started getting into the book. The initial storyline consisted of a bizarre complaint they had received from a man claiming to have seen a very bizarre party involving some well-dressed men. What at first seems like a complete waste of time, turns into the closest thing to a nightmare you could imagine. Now so far, so good right? Er, yes…but that is where it ends.

To my surprise, Patterson and Ledwidge then decide to throw in another case back on the Major Organised Crime desk involving some robberies that are rapidly getting bigger by the day. Add in some lovely romance between Bennett and Mary Catherine and finally a sick grandfather, and Bob’s your Uncle…your book is too crowded! Well, at least that how it seemed which is why I only rated it middle of the road. Lose the robberies, and the sick and ageing grandparent and the book would have been another belter? Instead it seemed like they had to cram in as much as humanly possible and then wrap it all up neatly with a bow on top.

 Unfortunately this latest Bennett just didn’t hit the spot. This is too busy, but with essentially a fantastic main storyline (Such a shame). I will as always look forward to the next one and just hope it’s not as disjointed as this one.

Gone by James Patterson (Michael Bennett #6)

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Forced into hiding from a mass murderer seeking vengeance, Detective Michael Bennett must decide whether to stay and protect his family, or hunt down the man who is hunting them.

When Bennett arrested Manuel Perrine, he thought he had brought an end to the drug cartel boss’s reign of terror and would get justice for the murder of his best friend. But then, during the trial, Perrine escaped.

In a bloody shoot-out, Bennett killed Perrine’s wife. Now he wants nothing more than to make Bennett suffer, to make him pay.

The whole family are moved to a safe-house in California. But as Perrine’s attacks on US soil become more vicious and more daring, it’s clear there is a war coming.

No one, anywhere, is safe.

My Review: Well, at last it seems that James Patterson is returning to form, or is it Michael Lledwidge that’s responsible for that? Who knows, but I for one am extremely glad. The Cross series, the Women’s Murder Club and some of the stand alones have been woeful of late (although the latest Cross was much better). Thankfully the Michael Bennett series also seems to be staying strong. Michael Bennett, his nanny Mary Catherine, Seamus and his ten kids make for an unusual family set up. However, if you have followed the series from the beginning it will be perfectly normal!

This story picks up from where the last one left off, meaning the Bennett’s are actually living in Protective Custody. For the 13-strong clan this means living in the back end of beyond which is quite a struggle to get to grips with. It is nice however, to see more of the Bennett kids, each with their own difficulty in the adjustment to life in the countryside. The reason for their situation is that the big drug cartel boss Manuel Perrine has escaped, and Bennett is his number one target.

The story has pretty reasonable pace from the very beginning as we see the brutal crew who work for Perrine start to make attacks. I was caught up in the story and knew it wouldn’t be long before Bennett had to come back into play. As predicted Bennett is landed once again back in the thick of it and between Bennett trying to help the case, and his kids trying to lead normal lives things heat up in no time. Although this is still a far cry from JP’s early books, this series is fast becoming my preference over Alex Cross. I like the characters and the story always seems to follow along at a good level. Overall I enjoyed this latest Bennett book and will actually look forward to the next one. I can only hope that this series doesn’t suffer the same fate as the Alex Cross and Women’s Murder Club has!

I, Michael Bennett by James Patterson (Michael Bennett #5)

My Rating: 3/5

After my last Michael Bennett (MB) outing (Tick Tock) I was looking forward to, and hoping, that the next instalment would be ramped up in terms of excitement. As usual with a Patterson I read this latest one in a day. Irrelevant of whether you love his books, he has that writing genius that keeps the readers engaged and for me it means literally not putting the book down.

In the latest MB we see the lovely Detective (ooohh I think I have a crush) take on the infamous Crime Lord Manuel Perrine. As usual the whole Bennett troops are there, all ten children, Michael’s Nanny Mary Catherine and Seamus. I think that alone means that readers become familiar with the family and you grow a certain attachment to them which keeps fans like me coming back time and time again. Unfortunately, the stories are not always James Patterson’s best but because I love the characters so much, I tend to overlook that!

The story itself is the usual JP style of short sharp chapters with plenty of action. When Michael and his school friend Hughie, who is also his colleague, try to take on Perrine the consequences are dire. Michael’s whole life is catapulted into danger as Perrine makes it his mission to destroy Bennett as well as his family. The story trundles along and I couldn’t help but feel that although I loved meeting up with the Bennett crew again the story just wasn’t as strong as it could have been. Yes there was plenty going on with drive by shootings, court room dramas and assassinations galore, but I just felt it was lacking that certain something. I enjoyed the personal element of the book and as usual Bennett’s love life is as screwed up as ever and I am really looking forward to what happens next.

The ending however is what made the book that bit better. It ends in a way that some people may say is a cliff-hanger, whereas in reality it’s a great opener for the next book. The ending made me happy that there was more drama, but irritated that I had to again wait to see the outcome for the Bennett’s. I debated the scoring of this and was tempted (after the ending) to give it 4 out of 5. However, the storyline just didn’t grab me enough so I resorted back to 3/5. A book that will keep the fans sweet for now but I am hoping we see a corker of a book in the next instalment!

TICK TOCK BY JAMES PATTERSON (MICHAEL BENNETT #4)

My Rating: 3/5

I have become very jaded with JP’s work recently, especially those that are co-written with the exception of the books following Michael Bennett. In particular his most recent Bennett novel Worst Case was a great read so I had high hopes for this one.

The greatest part of a book is when an author develops characters you like and Michael Bennett is no exception. I did find that in this book he didn’t seem quite the same. I love the fact that he is a hardworking cop that has a huge brood of children that make up his family. I also love his Grandfather Seamus who is a cheeky but lovable part of Michael’s life. I can’t put my finger on why Bennett was so different this time round, maybe it was the fact that we see him enter into dangerous territory with two women and he just doesn’t handle it all that well.

The biggest let down for me was the story itself, it was lacklustre and to be honest a wash-out compared to the last one. The plot was pretty weak and the killer was all too predictable this time round. The addition of Emily Parker to the case didn’t add much to the actual plot with the killer and it lacked being genuine. It felt like the story plodded along and there was no real urgency like there is with many other Patterson novels.

Having said that I haven’t written off the Bennett series altogether yet I just hope that in the next instalment the main plot is a lot stronger than this one. I think that the majority of fans will enjoy this book but it certainly won’t stay in your memory as being a `great’ book.

WORST CASE BY JAMES PATTERSON AND MICHAEL LLEDWIDGE (MICHAEL BENNETT #3)

My Rating: 4/5

Detective Michael Bennett works in the busy city of New York. His wife died two years ago leaving behind their amazing ten adopted children. Michael Bennett’s life is solely his work and his children. Thankfully he has the help of his Grandfather Seamus and Nanny Mary Catherine. Apart from his children the most important thing in his life is his work. He had previously come up against killers and cases that he has solved and this year is no different. A young man who has one of the wealthiest set of parents in New York is snatched and held hostage.

The only problem is that this killer doesn’t want money. The killer insists on questioning the young man and it dawns on the hostage that money can’t help him, only the correct answers can. Michael Bennett is called to the family home of the boy and then starts the race to find the boy before the killer makes it a murder case. Drafted in to help is Emily Parker an FBI Agent who is an Abduction Specialist. Between them they try to figure out the killer’s next move. What they aren’t prepared for is a killer that takes his beliefs to the extreme. Michael is not prepared for this case as well as managing his family brood without incidence. What he is even more shocked at is when his love life suddenly becomes part of the mix.

I have read all of James Patterson’s books and to be frank they can be hit and miss. Sometimes he can produce fantastic stories but in recent years it seems like he churns out so many books that sometimes the story doesn’t have the author’s whole focus. The Michael Bennett series is co-written with Michael Lewidge. This particular book I really enjoyed. I have also read the two previous Michael Bennett novels so I already had some background on the characters which always helps.

The second book in the Michael Bennett series (Run for your life) I rated at 4 out of 5 and to be honest this book was no different. The character himself is pretty good, he is clearly a family man but one who lobes his family and that comes across well with the writing. The added bonus of this book is the angle of the love life interest. The only thing was with this angle is that it felt very rushed, almost like JP/ML felt they had to introduce somebody. We don’t hear as much about Michael’s family which is a shame because his Grandfather Seamus was featured a little more heavily ion the previous book and he is a great character.

As for the killer himself, we see the story written from his perspective and to be honest this was the weakest are of the book. It almost felt a little rushed and there was no real depth to him. However as usual, James Patterson manages to balance out these flaws with his style of writing. His chapters are short and sharp and always paced quickly meaning they keep you a little hooked. I always find that no matter what my opinion of the story or characters I am always compelled to keep reading. Maybe this is why his books are such a success? Up until the release of `I Alex Cross’ which was quite recent, I actually preferred the Michael Bennett series. After that recent release I again became latched with the Alex Cross character. I must say though that after reading this Michael Bennett book, he may not be my favourite of the JP characters but I definitely want to see more of him.

All in all James Patterson hasn’t failed to deliver a good book. My only concern is that I never feel like it’s a five star read lately like I have with other authors such as Dennis Lehane. I think that he produces so many books in such a short space of time that the reader never quite feels like he has immersed himself fully with one character and concentrated on that one book. Overall he is still a great author and I would recommend his books to anybody as they are an enjoyable read. JP had better watch out though, recently some great authors have been producing 5 star books which may threaten his status as the number one Crime Writer.