Review: Alert by James Patterson

Monday 20 July 2015
Title: Alert (Michael Bennett, #8)
Author: James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
Publisher: Century
Publication Date: 16th July 2015
Pages: 400
Source: Purchased
Rating: 4.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Every New Yorker's worst nightmare is about to become a reality.

New York has seen more than its fair share of horrific attacks, but the city is about to be shaken in a way it never has before. After two devastating catastrophes in quick succession, everyone is on edge. Detective Michael Bennett is assigned to the case and given the near impossible task of hunting down the shadowy terror group responsible.

With troubles at home to contend with, Bennett has never been more at risk, or more alone, fighting the chaos all around him.

Then a shocking assassination makes it clear that these inexplicable events are just the prelude to the biggest threat of all. Now Bennett is racing against the clock to save his beloved city – before the most destructive force he has ever faced tears it apart.

James Patterson's Michael Bennett series is one of my favourites of his and along with the Women's Murder Club books, it is a series I look forward to reading every year. Alert is a most welcome return to form for Michael Bennett and I think fans who didn't enjoy Burn (although I did) might find that they enjoy this book a little more. It has all the hallmarks of what made us fall in love with Bennett and co in the first place and the action and story this time around is first-rate.

Each James Patterson book that you pick up usually has a tagline somewhere or other telling us how the main character is about to face the worst case of their life, or their life is about to be in danger, or that the case is going to be like nothing they have ever seen before. But, that actually applies with Alert when Bennett finds himself tackling one of the worse cases of crime New York City has had to contend with since 9/11. Two devastating attacks on the city bring it to its knees, then an assassination of a high-ranking official results in mass panic, and Bennett unearths just what it is that these killers want to ultimately achieve, which results in the evacuation of New York City.

The book opens with Michael Bennett on holiday in Ireland with Mary Catherine, you know, that sickly sweet nanny who is so nice it makes you want to throw up? Hmm. Bennett must return home to face these atrocities, leaving Mary Catherine behind in Ireland. I've never been all that sure about this couple in the past and truth be told, it wouldn't be a great hardship if Michael Ledwidge chose to kill her off. My feelings about her were only exacerbated with the return of FBI Agent Emily Parker, someone who Bennett has actual believable chemistry with. Anyway, I digress! Whereas sometimes in books like this the threat is there but barely ever comes to fruition, let me tell you that it does in Alert. There are some heartstopping moments made all the more impactful because they are occurring in one of the most famous and easily recognisable places in the world. You can easily sense the fear and imagine the pandemonium something this catastrophic would create.

The ways in which these individuals test New York City are quite inventive, really showcasing the dangers of technology and showing that despite all the good it can do, all it takes is for some dangerous and warped people to really push it to its limits and really wreak havoc on the world. The overall ending and resolution was perhaps tied up a little too neatly, but then again aren't they always in a Patterson novel? Plus we do of course always want Bennett to come out on top because this is a series that could easily run as long as Alex Cross (Bennett is the NYC Alex Cross after all...) I was left wanting more from Bennett and co as always, but at the same time I am wondering just where Patterson and Ledwidge will take him next. I can't wait to find out.

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