Alert (Michael Bennett #8), by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Four stars

Patterson and Ledwidge ramp up the action in the latest Michael Bennett thriller! With Mary Catherine stuck in Ireland handling a real estate matter, Michael Bennett is trying to cope with the strain on his heart. This emotional meandering has little time to set in, as a main line of the New York Subway system is hampered by two massive explosions. Bennett is assigned to investigate, which propels him into a fast-paced search for those involved. When future explosions occur, including an explosion at the Federal Building, Bennett and his colleague, Emily Parker, begin to wonder if this is a new massive act of terror, akin to September 11th. The mayor is murdered and a communiqué explains that there is more to come brings panic in the city, so much so that Bennett must look to outside sources for assistance. As he races across the country and to the far side of the world, a small cell of individuals seeks to bring the city to its knees, for reasons known only to them. With the use of nano- and robotic technologies, New York could be the first of many cities left in rubble, unless demands are met. Meanwhile, the Bennett crew are tasked with falling into line for a new and temporary nanny that leaves them pining for Mary Catherine’s return. Patterson and Ledwidge succeed in keeping the reader curious and on the edge of their seat for the duration of this thriller, wondering if Bennett has finally met his match.

While James Patterson is normally hit and miss with his novels, he remains astute when it comes to this series. With the help of Michael Ledwidge, the Bennett series continues to flow effectively. While centred in New York, the series continues to flow effectively, perhaps because of the constantly evolving Bennett storylines and never-ending issues that can befall the city. While there is little background growth of the main characters, the plot keeps the novel flowing, with fast-paced action and non-stop twists. I have said it before and will do so again: could the three Patterson major series (Cross, Boxer, and Bennett) use a shot in the arm with crossover novels, forcing Patterson to sing for his proverbial supper and not simply reap the rewards of his co-author’s hard work? I continue to wait for this possibility, as each are reaching the climax of their respective individual successes. Still, Michael Bennett has a pulse and readers should enjoy this well-crafted story.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Ledwidge for this interesting tale. Michael Bennett always seems to escape just in time, though something must surely give before too long.