Review

Run for Your Life

by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

If you are not reading the Michael Bennett books by James
Patterson and Michael Ledwidge, now would be an excellent time to
start. There are two thus far --- STEP ON A CRACK and the newly
published RUN FOR YOUR LIFE --- so you can be up to speed on the
series easily enough.

Bennett is a driven New York City police detective who balances
the high-pressure demands of his job with even more demanding
domestic duties. A recent widower, Bennett is dad to 10 adopted
children. He is assisted by his grandfather Seamus (who, by the
way, is a Catholic priest) and Mary Catherine, a twenty-something
au-pair who, if I am reading between the lines correctly, is ever
so slowly becoming a potential romantic interest for Bennett, and
vice versa.

Now, before you think you have stumbled into a literary relaunch
of “Eight is Enough,” let me assure you that the focus
of the Bennett novels is on bad guys --- really, really interesting
bad guys. The one featured front-and-center in RUN FOR YOUR LIFE is
The Teacher, who reduces Manhattan to chaos with a series of
grisly, violent murders with no apparent link. An expert at
weaponry, possessed of a twisted genius and propelled by an
enigmatic motive that is grudgingly revealed over the course of the
narrative, The Teacher is as unforgettable as he is deadly. He
appears to be unstoppable; seemingly able to change his appearance
at will, it’s as if he moves instantaneously from crime scene
to crime scene, while along the way chastising people for their
poor manners. His victims include a retail clerk, a French airline
steward, a maître d' --- and then, of course, there’s
that unfortunate corpse back at his apartment.

When The Teacher discovers through the media that Bennett is
after him, he begins baiting Bennett, leaving messages for him at
crime scenes. As he prepares for his ultimate act of vengeance,
however, The Teacher gets up close and personal with Bennett,
making Bennett a part of his twisted scenario that, if he’s
successful, will give them both a dark place in history.

Patterson and Ledwidge have created a winning series here. The
secondary domestic plot --- an influenza strain running through the
household while Bennett is being pressured by his superiors to
capture The Teacher --- is given just enough attention to provide a
sort of comic relief from the grimness of the book’s main
theme without distracting the reader entirely from it. The main
attraction of RUN FOR YOUR LIFE however, is of course The Teacher.
As dangerous as he is, his ultimate motivation is a bombshell that
resonates long after the last sentence is read. The authors also
provide enough loose ends to keep the anticipation for the next
volume at a fever pitch. Jump on this series now and then tell your
friends about it; you’ll look prescient in a year or two.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

Run for Your Life
by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

  • Publication Date: February 2, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 0316018740
  • ISBN-13: 9780316018746