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Haunted: A Detective Michael Bennett Thriller

Review

Haunted: A Detective Michael Bennett Thriller

HAUNTED, the newly published installment in James Patterson’s popular and long-running Michael Bennett series, is a benchmark for the canon in a couple of ways. Perhaps the major one is that the series welcomes James O. Born as its co-writer. Born is a remarkable author who has been critically acclaimed for his co-authoring stint with Lou Dobbs on two novels, as well as several police procedural thrillers and a pair of dystopian science-fiction works under a pseudonym. His considerable chops and skill set --- not to mention his own past employment in law enforcement --- bring new life to the series and to HAUNTED, as a major player is taken, at least temporarily, off the board and to the side (that’s another benchmark) as Michael Bennett and his large family of children face their greatest challenge yet.

"[James O. Born's] considerable chops and skill set --- not to mention his own past employment in law enforcement --- bring new life to the series and to HAUNTED..."

The book starts with Bennett, an NYPD detective, opening a can of whoop on a suspect who took a hostage at knifepoint. A second incident, with more serious and significant repercussions, results in an investigation that requires Bennett to take some leave. He needs it. One of his children is in terrible trouble (I will leave it to you to read HAUNTED and be surprised as to the who, how and why), exerting pressure not only on him but on the entire Bennett clan as well. When a sudden illness almost takes out another member of the family, the die is cast. Bennett, nine of his children, Uncle Seamus (an Irish priest who always steals the show when he makes an appearance on the page), and Mary Catherine (the fetching Irish au pair who serves as housekeeper and nanny to the Bennett household and the love interest of the amazingly clueless Bennett) depart from New York for a few weeks of sabbatical in rural Linewiler, Maine.

The small town has big problems, which Bennett discovers soon enough after bivouacking with Sandy Coles, his former partner in the NYPD who is now Linewiler’s chief constable. With the Bennetts ensconced in an older but serviceable home that they quickly nickname “Mildew Manor” --- and is reputed by the locals to be haunted --- Bennett finds out that while he may be on leave from the force, he never really stops being a detective. There are some problems in Linewiler that unfortunately match the worst of those in New York, and when Sandy asks for his investigative help, Bennett, in good conscience, can hardly refuse.

The local criminal overlord resents the presence of both Bennett and Sandy, and isn’t at all above doing what he feels he needs to do in order to maintain the status quo. The quiet streets of Linewiler bear no outward resemblance to the furtive alleys of the big city, but some things never change, particularly when there are people who will cater to the worst instincts of their fellow human beings. Bennett finds that he must set his personal problems aside and deal with the situation in Linewiler, which may reach New York as well, regardless of what he does or doesn’t do.

HAUNTED is bookended by changes --- big ones --- in Michael Bennett’s life. The book concludes on an unexpectedly upbeat note, which undoubtedly will play out over future installments of the series. It also compares and contrasts urban New York with rural Maine, even as the story’s parallel plot lines never quite intersect but are nonetheless related in a most unfortunate way. The end result, however, is that I will be there as a reader, regardless of where Patterson and Born take this intriguing series.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on September 22, 2017

Haunted: A Detective Michael Bennett Thriller
by James Patterson and James O. Born

  • Publication Date: September 18, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 031627397X
  • ISBN-13: 9780316273978