GONE is an appropriate title for this sixth installment in the popular Michael Bennett series written by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. Bennett is an interesting and unique character, being a widowed New York police detective with 10 children. His Uncle Seamus also happens to be a Father Seamus, a Catholic priest who functions as a good righthand man to Bennett, who juggles his professional and personal responsibilities with enviable dexterity. The main cog in the home wheel is Mary Catherine, the family’s Irish nanny who keeps the home fires burning, in addition to the one in her heart for Bennett, with whom she has an on-again, off-again romantic relationship.
"GONE is certainly one of the more suspenseful episodes in the series, a one-sit reading experience that will linger in your mind long after the final page has been turned."
What GONE does is offer up a fish-out-of-water scenario in the form of a dramatic and abrupt change of location for the Bennett clan. The residential shift is occasioned by Bennett’s capture in New York of Manuel Perrine, a notorious Mexican drug kingpin. When Perrine escapes from prison, there is no question that he will obtain revenge against Bennett in any way possible, including the pursuit and murder of his family. Consequently, the Bennetts have moved to a remote farm in California, where they are hiding in somewhat less than plain sight.
However, Bennett’s expertise on Perrine is called upon when it becomes clear that Perrine is seeking to settle old scores all across the United States and Mexico. Perrine is as brutal as they come, and with his flair for the theatrical, he's creating a bloody and frightening spectacle. Worse, it soon becomes all too clear that Perrine is no longer interested in simply maintaining his status as a drug kingpin. His intent is to reclaim the southwestern United States for Mexico and utilize any means to do so, even as he continues to carry out his plan for revenge against anyone he feels has double-crossed him or shown him disrespect. Meanwhile, the Bennett children are somewhat less than enamored with their lives on the farm, particularly the chores that go hand-in-hand with rural living.
When the narrative shifts between the Bennett family’s new home on the farm and Detective Bennett’s efforts to shut Perrine down once and for all, GONE in some ways resembles a contrasting mashup between “Little House on the Prairie” and Savages. Ultimately, however, Perrine utilizes the considerable resources at his disposal to locate the Bennetts. Bennett is faced with a desperate race against time as he initiates a clandestine sojourn into Mexico in a last-ditch attempt to wrest his family from Perrine before they are brutally slaughtered. He soon finds, though, that locating Perrine and neutralizing him permanently will not be anywhere near enough to save those who mean the most to him.
GONE is an interesting change of pace and scene for the Bennett series, one that should win the canon new fans while keeping readers who have been along for the ride from the beginning extremely happy. Those who have been following the dip and swirl in Bennett’s relationship with Mary Catherine will find much to love here as well, though given the penchant of this author team for unpredictability, almost anything can happen in future volumes. GONE is certainly one of the more suspenseful episodes in the series, a one-sit reading experience that will linger in your mind long after the final page has been turned.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on October 4, 2013