Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Review: Step on a Crack by James Patterson

My next book was intended to be James Patterson's New York Times Bestseller "Tick-Tock" - until I realized that Tick-Tock was actually part of the "Mike Bennett" series of novels. Step on a Crack is the first book of this series, followed by "Run for your Life", "Worst Case" and finally Tick-Tock. I've found it's best to start at the beginning (rather than the middle) of series so I decided to give "Step on a Crack" a try.

First let me just put it out there that I don't often enjoy "James Patterson" novels that are ghost written by other authors and I'm not sure I understand why James Patterson puts his name on so many (crappy) books (presume the almighty dollar) - but I fully expect the ghost-written titles to be of inferior quality (and ingenuity) to those actually written exclusively by James Patterson. James Patterson's Mike Bennett series is co-written by Michael Ledwidge.

The Audible Publisher's Summary:
NYPD Detective Michael Bennett is about to take on the most sinister challenge of his career. The nation has fallen into mourning after the unexpected death of a beloved former first lady, and the most powerful people in the world gather in New York for her funeral. Then the inconceivable occurs. Billionaires, politicians, and superstars of every kind are suddenly trapped within one man's brilliant and cold-blooded scenario.
Bennett, father of 10, is pulled into the fray. As the danger escalates, he is hit with devastating news: after fighting for many years, his wife has succumbed to a terrible disease. As New York descends into chaos, he has lost the great love of his life, faces raising his heartbroken children alone, and must somehow rescue 34 hostages.
Day after day, Bennett confronts the most ruthless man he has ever dealt with, a man who kills without hesitation and counters everything the NYPD and FBI throw at him with impunity. As the entire world watches, and the tensions build to a searing heat, Bennett has to find a way out or face responsibility for the greatest debacle in history.

The publisher's summary is misleading -  particularly about the order of events, but also about the excitement of the plotline. Yes there's a hostage situation, yes Detective Bennett's life is in turmoil, yes his wife is dying - but there just isn't any draw into the characters. All of the characters are single dimensional and completely unsympathetic. I fought my way through the entire book, mainly because the novel was only 7 hours long.

Narration of "Step on a Crack" was okay, the "Jack" character sounded a bit like Jack Nicholson - which was actually entertaining - but it almost seemed as though the narrators were trying (and failing) to engage as the characters they were reading.

As for whether I'd recommend "Step on a Crack"? It wasn't awful, it wasn't offensive - but it wasn't a "WOW! That was awesome, I'm going to download the entire series now" kinda book. At this point I'm not rushing out to read/download "Run for your Life", "Worst Cast" or "Tick-Tock" - New York Times Bestseller or not.

"Step on a Crack" was written by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge, produced in audio format by Hachette Audio and narrated by John Slattery and Reg Rogers. Step on a Crack (unabridged) has a run-time of 6 hours 54 minutes and was released on January 22, 2007.

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