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Thursday, 3 September 2015

Step on a Crack by James Patterson (Michael Bennett, #1) - Book Review

4/5 Stars

First came ALEX CROSS.

Then the WOMEN'S MURDER CLUB.

Now meet Detective Michael Bennett, NYPD - and his ten children...

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Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 308
Chapters: 116 (Plus a prologue with three parts.)
Publisher: Headline

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

Step on a Crack is Patterson at his simplest: A straight-forward, fast-paced thriller.

It doesn't spend its time going too in-depth; what you see is what you get; and that works. I'm an avid Patterson fan, so jumping onto this series was only a matter of time, and a no-brainer. The plot is decent, even if it does stretch believability; the characters work in their respective roles; and the writing and structure ensure you're not counting the days as you turn the pages.

All in all, a nice little start.

SPOILER WARNING

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Michael Bennett is in the worst stage of his life.
His wife has mere weeks left from the cancer ravaging her body.
Michael himself is trying to pick up the pieces and look after their ten children.
So when hijackers take New York's rich and famous hostage at the funeral of a dearly beloved figure, Bennett's the man dragged in to handle the negotiations.
But can the tough, but vulnerable detective keep his crumbling composure under control?
Or will there be more funerals on the horizon...?

Plot - 4/5 Stars

Step on a Crack's story has you from the beginning. From Bennett's personal struggles to the unbelievable heist he's called in to manage, everything is pulse-pounding and heart-wrenching. It builds well, and to an exciting climax; the authors play with the tension and suspense like putty. 

There are no real twists, but some nice shocks litter the way to a decently tied-up finale.

Overall, things are kept simple and sweet, fast and hooking.

Pace - 4.5/5 Stars

With chapters rarely lasting more than a couple pages, the pace and flow of the novel is superb. The immediacy and need to continue promise that this read will be a short one.

The chapter length can sometimes be grating, because the speed is ferocious, and chances to flesh things that need to be elaborated on are lost.

Characters - 4/5 Stars

The majority of Step on a Crack's cast is unremarkable. That's not necessarily bad, not for me anyway, the general characters fit their spaces fine, and it leaves room to work on Bennett himself. I do find the mastermind behind the entire operation to be a little underwhelming, but the novel never tries to be anything more than what it is.

Bennett, though, is interesting as hell. He's not your usual tough-guy detective, ruthlessly hunting down some deranged killer. He's very open and vulnerable, which I like a lot. Patterson and co-author do a great job of balancing his personal life and work life. With his wife, Maeve, in hospital on her death bed, and the responsibility of his ten - yes, ten - adopted kids placed firmly on his shoulders, it's hard to imagine how he can even begin to contemplate working a hostage negotiation. 

But he does.

His kids and sickly wife add a double-edged dynamic. They're heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure. The pressure on Bennett is unreal, and it's a unique situation for a hero-character. 

And Maeve's resolution... Gosh, I never thought it would affect me the way it did, or, well, does...

We do move around a lot of character perspectives, quite quickly, too. Thankfully, these are smooth and well-done, often adding a distinct set of emotions to the plot. The back-and-forth between those on the outside of the hostage situation, and the hostages themselves, helps create a 360 degree view of the things that are going on.

Writing - 4/5 Stars

Short and snappy. 

Can sometimes be sparse in areas that need more time spent on them, while, conversely, spending too much time in already well-fleshed places.

Overall - 4/5 Stars

Another Patterson series I'm excited to devour.


Next Instalment: Run for Your Life


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