Review: Burn by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge (5/5)

Friday 3 October 2014
Detective Michael Bennett finally returns to New York City - and to the most unsettling, horrific case of his career.

At last, Detective Michael Bennett and his family are coming home to New York City. Thanks to Bennett, the ruthless crime lord whose vengeful mission forced the Bennett family into hiding has been brought down for good.

Back in the city that never sleeps, Bennett takes over a chaotic Outreach Squad in Harlem, where he receives an unusual call: a man claims to have seen a group of well-dressed men holding a bizarre party in a condemned building. With no clear crime or evidence, Bennett dismisses the report.

But when a charred body is found in that very same building, he is forced to take the caller seriously - and is drawn into an underground criminal world of terrifying depravity.

James Patterson's Michael Bennett series is one of his best creations in my opinion and a new Bennett novel is always near the top of my most anticipated reads for the year and Burn was no exception. I'm glad to say then that it didn't disappoint. After the events of the previous two books Bennett is leaving witness protection and heading back to the Big Apple. Upon his return though he doesn't receive the heroes welcome that you might expect, but animosity from his fellow colleagues and superiors. A meeting with one of his bosses finds himself demoted and dumped in Harlem, heading up the NYPD's brand-new Ombudsman Outreach Squad. The squad are given the cases most officers think are beneath them, and Bennett is not impressed when he meets his less than enthusiastic colleagues.

The last two books have been particularly action packed, even by Patterson's standards and this one for the most part felt quite tame in comparison. For me though that was a positive thing as what it allowed the authors to do was focus more on the characters. There's a lot of development here with Bennett both in his job but also his personal life. His on/off relationship with Mary Catherine has always left fans wanting them to get together. Is this the book that will finally happen? There's also a major development with one of his daughters which serves to highlight that whilst his job is important to him, his children come first and there's some touching moments in the book. For me this is where Patterson excels in his Alex Cross novels with the family setup of Nana Mama and his children. Bennett is essentially a New York version of Alex Cross and I love the scenes with his crazy family. There was more of a sense of normalcy here, and a realistic tone to the book which I often feel can sometimes be lost when we have an explosion or a murder on every other page.

Bennett is the best kind of officer. One who isn't afraid to go against his superiors and stand up for what he believes in. So when one of his officers is found after apparently committing suicide, Bennett suspects there's more to it but his superiors think not. Bennett sets out to solve the crime against advice from high up but he soon finds himself called before the top brass again. This time it's to get him back on the Major Crime Unit to solve a series of jewellery heists that are plaguing the city. Bennett has his work cut out as he attempts to juggle more than one case and with problems at home too he's certainly kept busy in this book.

At times it is a slower paced book than what we are used to from Patterson yet just over halfway the action is cranked up and we are soon back on the twisty Patterson rollercoaster we all know and love and the action doesn't let up until the Epilogue, which is very bittersweet. The Bennett series shows no signs of slowing down and I'm already impatient for the next one. This series could easily match Alex Cross in terms of releases and I hope it does. I would also love to see a crossover between the two! Surely there isn't a criminal alive that could avoid capture by Cross and Bennett? I don't know but I'd love to find out. Highly reccommend this one.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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