Michael Bennett is one of the more unusual characters in James Patterson’s universe. A highly decorated NYPD detective, Bennett is a widower with 10 children. With the help of Mary Catherine, the family’s full-time nanny (and his erstwhile romantic interest), and Seamus, his crusty but lovable grandfather (who, interestingly enough, is a priest), Bennett does much better than one might expect in juggling his professional and personal interests. With I, MICHAEL BENNETT, the latest in the series, Patterson and co-author Michael Ledwidge have crafted an explosive, lightning-paced summer read where the two divisions of Bennett’s life collide and with violent repercussions.
"With I, MICHAEL BENNETT, the latest in the series, Patterson and co-author Michael Ledwidge have crafted an explosive, lightning-paced summer read where the two divisions of Bennett’s life collide and with violent repercussions."
The book opens with Bennett at the helm of a task force with the goal of taking down Manuel “The Sun God” Perrine, a notorious drug kingpin who, though originally from France, heads up the most dangerous and violent of the Mexican drug cartels. Bennett has learned that Perrine will be in New York, and plans on taking him and his lieutenants down once and for all. The operation meets with mixed success: Perrine is captured, but at great personal cost to Bennett. Worse, Perrine’s bodyguard, Marietta, who is as deadly and dangerous as she is beautiful, escapes the NYPD dragnet and will stop at nothing to get Perrine freed.
Meanwhile, Perrine continues to run his empire from prison. When he finally is brought to trial, chaos erupts in the courtroom. The shadow of violence follows Bennett everywhere, even when he is on a family vacation in Newburgh, New York, where an incident occurs that is every parent’s darkest nightmare. Perrine is busily orchestrating a program of intimidation from his jail cell, but Bennett isn't easily intimidated. Not only does he go the extra mile to make sure that Perrine gets what's coming to him, he also uses this opportunity to clean up Newburgh, which is feeling the effects of the influx of organized street crime. Still, Perrine is not to be denied. Before the book reaches its startling conclusion, the war between them will become more personal and deadly than ever as both men go full force against each other.
I, MICHAEL BENNETT has enough action and bloodshed for three books. Interestingly enough, while it is complete in itself, it does leave a major plot dangling, one that will be continued and possibly resolved in the next installment of the series. If you haven’t been reading these books for whatever reason, be advised that Patterson and Ledwidge really kick things up several notches here. If you thought this series was “Eight is Enough” with a badge, you would be mistaken; while there is an occasional domestic subplot that rears its head (Bennett may be good with a firearm, but he is a total klutz when dealing with women), I, MICHAEL BENNETT is as riveting a novel as you’ll read this year. Some great dialogue is included --- there’s a “Sesame Street”-based joke that is hilarious --- and Father Seamus is an indispensable source of what would be labeled a bromide coming from anyone else.
And the ending? It’s going to be a long and excruciating 12 months (if we have to wait that long) to see what happens next. No doubt, though, the wait will be worth it.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on July 13, 2012