Bullseye (Michael Bennett #9), by James Patterson

Six stars

Michael Bennett makes his return to the printed page in this thriller that puts him in the crosshairs of a determined assassin who has plans to significantly shift the political balance. When Bennett is called away from his family one weekend morning, he knows something is up. Summoned to work a joint operation, Bennett is soon read in on a piece of intercepted intel that concerns an assassination attempt on POTUS while he is in town to attend the U.N. General Assembly. In a harrowing piece of eye in the sky bravery, Bennett is able to stop the assassin while on a helicopter patrol, but fails to capture them. With a plot to kill POTUS still active, no one is taking any chances and Bennett begins investigating possible leads and suspects. Before long, he learns of a possible husband-wife team who could be involved, though he cannot narrow his scope too much at the present time. Meanwhile, the Bennett household is busy as ever, when they take in the star football player of the high school team on a temporary basis. While the eldest Bennett is busy chasing down an assassin, the boys soon learn that you may be able to take the kid out of the rough neighbourhood, but the neighbourhood remains in the kid. Drug dealers and illicit weapons become shocks they must face, which is more than they can handle, especially with their father working with the NYPD. Back on the streets, rumours abound that the kill plot might have been contracted to a ruthless assassin who plays no sides, choosing to to work for the highest bidder. Furthermore, there could be a Russian angle, one that reaches the highest levels of the Kremlin. In a world almost three decades into a Cold War thaw, frigidity between America and Russia could be building again, with state-sanctioned violence a distinct possibility. Bennett must rush to find the assassin before total chaos, while also determining if Russia is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, which could open a political chasm best not explored. Patterson and Ledwidge create an interesting novel, full of drama, but nowhere near as exciting as Michael Bennett in his prime. 

This is the second novel I have read in an many days that posits an America v. Russia political build-up. While I am not blind to the antics taking place in Moscow, could the blather of ISIS be waning as we return to a new war where former enemies renew their syncopated waltz on the political dance floor? While this may be the case, the interpretation of this is weaker and plays but a passing role in this novel, as Patterson and Ledwidge seek more to show Bennett’s heroic nature than a grasp of political chess play. As always, the Bennetts receive little mention, allowing for no real backstory progression, especially as Michael remains stagnant in his sentiments towards Mary Catherine. However the subplot line does offer some insight into the older children. The plot itself moves at a decent place and allows the reader to get a handle on the situation, though is nothing stellar or gripping to the point of holding the reader’s breath at every turn. As Michael Bennett and his brood approach ten novels, could things be winding down for him, leaving room for new and exciting possibilities, or will Bennet join Cross and Boxer as they catapult into an infinite number of novels, sometimes leaving the reader feeling tepid about their reading experience? Time will tell, but let’s not draw things out too long for the dedicated fan, seeking a decent reader.

Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and Ledwidge for an interesting addition to the series. Nowhere near as captivating as some of the previous work, but not the worst effort, by far. 

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