Saturday, October 25, 2014

Burn by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Burn is the seventh book in the Michael Bennett series, and while they can be read independently you get the most enjoyment out of the series when you read them in order.  This review contains series ***SPOILERS*** if you have not read the entire series.  I highly recommend that you read the series in order, starting with Step on a crack.

You could never describe Detective Michael Bennett's life as boring - not when he has worked on some of the biggest cases in New York, and not when his home life is just as complicated.  He has returned home from the witness protection programme expecting his life to return somewhat to normal, but in the past nine months there has been a shake up and his new assignment is not a return to major crimes - he has essentially been exiled to an apparent dead end project.  Never one to sit on his hands and do nothing, Bennett settles into the new role and tries to shake things up - but he should know by now that things never go to plan, especially in a city like New York.

Bennett has met some seriously twisted people over the years, but a chance comment leads him to the trail of a group of modern day cannibals who hold secret banquets in seemingly abandoned buildings where only the homeless and the junkies can see them.  At first he hears whispers of one and then another, but the evidence is virtually nil and the trail is cold - or so he thinks.  Aside from the quiet insidious banquets, there is the higher profile and elaborate jewellery store heists where a crew of thieves manage to be in and out of their targets in minutes and melt into the crowd without a trace.  Never one to shy away from a challenge Bennett soon finds himself balancing the new and the old as he tries to support his new team while meeting the challenge of major crimes as well.

On the home front he is facing challenges as the family settles into domestic bliss after nearly a year away from home, but it is a delicate balance that can easily be tipped too far.  There loving and chaotic household is about to be rocked to the core by the unexpected not once, not twice, but three times.  Life is never boring for Bennett and his family - but sometimes boring can actually be kind of a nice change of pace.

Burn is the latest offering in the Michael Bennett series and settles into a unique niche in the series, being a book that sees him trying to find his feet after a series of professional and personal upheavals.  Some of the past storylines have been truly explosive and mind boggling in their grandeur, in comparison Burn feels like a return to his police roots a true detective reconnecting with the people of New York at a local level rather than just focusing on the wealthy victims and bizarre crimes.  There are more personal touches for Bennett this time as he faces some very human challenges and his changing relationship with Mary Catherine - it was a chance to really connect with him as a character and what truly makes him tick and who he is.  This is something of a departure from the norm and it was a pleasant surprise to get inside his head a little more than normal.

Compared to other books in the series Burn is more disjointed in terms of storyline and plot development, there are clearly separate stories that seem to be completely unrelated and it is only in the end that everything snaps into place - this was much more realistic of the "real" policing world as was having more than one case in the air at the same time.  While it was not pleasant for Bennett to experience the changed management of the NYPD it was also much more realistic to have him come up against someone who is trying to make him look bad and get him off the force - most people would have some experience with a manager or superior who is insecure and wants you gone because they feel threatened by your reputation and work history. 

This is a very human Michael Bennett and one that leaves behind some of the more far fetched storylines to return to a gritty from the streets view of New York.  Hopefully the next Michael Bennett will be able to hold onto more of this more personal aspect that we have not seen much of to date.

If you like this book then try:
  • Step on a crack by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Run for your life by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Worst case by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Tick tock by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • I, Michael Bennett by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • Gone by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  • The edge of normal by Carla Norton
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • Pop goes the weasel by M. J. Arlidge
  • The surgeon by Tess Gerritsen
  • The apprentice by Tess Gerritsen
  • Kill switch by Neal Baer and Jonathan Greene
  • NYPD Red by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
  • Kill me if you can by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

Reviewed by Brilla

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