In my quest to sample the different James Patterson (& company) detectives this year, I read the first two Michael Bennett books recently. Now have to ask the question – how does he stack up against the others? First I will give the synopsis of the two books, then give a run down of my general feelings. I gave both books 4 stars and recommend for JP fans and fans of family centered detectives!
Step on a Crack – Michael Bennett #1 (James Patterson, Michael Ledwidge – published February 2007 by Little, Brown, & Company)
Patterson and Ledwidge introduce a new hero in an exciting thriller set in the heart of Manhattan. NYPD detective Michael Bennett is concentrating on getting his family through a particularly difficult Christmas: he and his 10 adopted children are facing the loss to cancer of his brave wife, Maeve.
But a major crisis calls him away: the funeral of a former First Lady at St. Patrick’s Cathedral goes horribly awry when men storm the church and take hundreds of attendees hostage. Michael is asked to try to reason with a sinister man named Jack. Jack releases all but the most famous people, and makes his demands: he wants several million dollars from each celebrity hostage, including the mayor, a popular comedic actor, a beloved talk show host, and a pop starlet. Once Jack starts killing, Michael realizes he’s up against a truly diabolical foe. Patterson has a knack for creating genuinely likable heroes, and Michael fits the bill.
As readers rapidly turn the pages to learn how the tense hostage drama plays out, they will also be sympathizing with Michael as he faces the agonizing loss of his wife. Totally gripping and downright impossible to put down, this is a promising start to a potential new series.
Run For Your Life – Michael Bennett #2 – by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge – published February 2009 by Little, Brown & Company
A calculating killer who calls himself The Teacher is taking on New York City, killing the powerful and the arrogant. His message is clear: remember your manners or suffer the consequences! For some, it seems that the rich are finally getting what they deserve. For New York’s elite, it is a call to terror.
Only one man can tackle such a high-profile case: Detective Mike Bennett. The pressure is enough for anyone, but Mike also has to care for his 10 children-all of whom have come down with virulent flu at once!
Discovering a secret pattern in The Teacher’s lessons, Detective Bennett realizes he has just hours to save New York from the greatest disaster in its history. From the #1 bestselling author comes RUN FOR YOUR LIFE,
Both books are definitely exciting, typical JP style, fast reads, short chapters, all of the above that he is known for. Let’s see what sets Michael Bennett apart and how he stacks up:
First – the family life. Bennett reminds me a lot of Alex Cross in that he is an absolutely fierce dad that would do anything for his kids. Bennett becomes a widower at the end of book one and I freaking love, love, love, the family dynamic which includes his crazy Irish dad Seamus, nanny, and of course the totally mixed bag that is 10 diverse foster/adopted kids.
Bennett as a cop: he’s competent, he follows probably most of the rules, and isn’t afraid to throw his life down for the job if needed. I think it’ll be interesting reading forward to see how he recovers mentally from the loss of his wife and if it affects his career
Love interests: thankfully Bennett is still loyal to the wife and then her memory in the first two books. I loved how they made the most of their time together, it was cheesy but honestly felt like couples goals. Bennett doesn’t have a partner or a go to person either so I can’t comment on his professional relationships
The cases: Bennett’s specialty was hostage negotiation, and both books ultimately deal with hostages. The first in a big way, the second in smaller detail. I thought both books were exciting, quick reads, and pretty interesting case wise
The bad guys: ok, I have to admit that while the antics were real, the bad guys were probably the biggest struggle I had with the books. The ‘clean man’ in Step on a Crack felt so unrealistic upon the reveal of who he was, even while it was a trip to try to guess his identity.
In Run for Your Life – I did like the villain, quite a bit, and found the whole thing entirely pulse pounding, while his motivation and reasoning ended up feeling iffy at best.
Overall: these are good reads, check them out if you like Cross and JP for sure. I love them as palate cleansers in between more intellectual reads
⭐⭐⭐I rank the JP detectives in this order so far⭐⭐⭐
- Alex Cross
- Michael Bennett
- Jordan + MacDonald (NYPD Red)
- Lindsay Boxer (WMC books)
I did briefly check these out on audio, and they were a mixed bag. I like the sound effects. One narrator reads Bennett & Co, while the other reads the villain. I think they’re good audiobooks for driving or when you don’t need your whole brain, but I enjoyed reading more.