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Alert: A Detective Michael Bennett Thriller


Alert: A Detective Michael Bennett Thriller

I am not entirely sure if there is such a thing as a “charming” thriller. If so, the Michael Bennett series by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge would certainly merit consideration for that classification.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of a literary encounter with Bennett, he is an NYPD detective who navigates the Machiavellian ley lines of his job during the day while juggling his domestic duties as the widowed father of 10 children. Bennett is assisted in the latter endeavor by Seamus, his grandfather, who is also a Catholic priest (long story there), and Mary Catherine, Seamus’ quietly fetching housekeeper who has gradually become Bennett’s housekeeper. The focus of the series, of course, is Bennett’s day job, which doesn’t get any more difficult than it does in the newly published ALERT, in which his talents and abilities are needed more than ever by one of the world’s most important cities.

"I am not entirely sure if there is such a thing as a 'charming' thriller. If so, the Michael Bennett series by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge would certainly merit consideration for that classification."

It bears repeating: Patterson has an uncanny ability to create dangerously powerful antagonists who bring a chill to the collective spine of readers. He and Ledwidge do it again and again in ALERT. There is a pair of them in this case, known throughout most of the book as Mr. Joyce and Mr. Beckett. The two of them have a commonality of purpose, that being the wholesale destruction of New York. They utilize a combination of explosives and technology to unleash a series of frightening attacks upon everything from the city’s infrastructure to its government, seemingly at will and with frightening efficiency. It seems all but impossible to stop them, let alone catch them. The deadly duo has apparently thought of everything.

Beckett, who heads up the task force aiming to stop the attacks, is at a loss, as is his longtime friend Emily Parker, who is brought in as the FBI’s contribution to the case. The question that hangs over the proceedings, right up there with “Who are they?”, is “What do they want?” Unfortunately, there are no answers forthcoming as the carnage and confusion spread across the city in attack after attack.

Then things get worse. Joyce and Beckett have a grand finale planned that will wipe out the city --- and everyone who is left in it --- for good. This might include the rest of the Bennett family, which is trying to make its way out of town following an evacuation order (something that is tough to do with a family dog). As for Mary Catherine, she is safe but far away. While ALERT begins with Bennett and Mary Catherine together (um, very together, actually), events overtake them so that they have an ocean or so between them. Mary Catherine takes care of some unfinished family business in the Motherland, while Bennett returns to work, only to run into the first stirrings of the offal storm that Joyce and Beckett are about to unleash upon his beloved New York. As one might expect, all is eventually and satisfactorily resolved, but at some cost. Regardless, getting there is half, if not all, of the fun.

If you aren’t reading this series, you should be. While it isn’t “light” by any means, it is not unrelentingly grim either. Bennett’s domestic situation is dolloped out intermittently and with a light touch so that it supplements (as opposed to interrupts) the main plot while advancing the series as a whole onward. Those planning a late beach vacation as the summer of 2015 winds down will not be sorry if they include ALERT on their packing list.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on August 7, 2015

Alert: A Detective Michael Bennett Thriller
by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

  • Publication Date: February 16, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1455585106
  • ISBN-13: 9781455585106