Saturday, April 19, 2008

Step on a Crack by James Patterson

I read this for the A to Z Challenge. I have read other books by Patterson, from the Alex Cross series, which I quite enjoyed. This one was reviewed on a few blogs so I thought I'd give it a try.

The main character is Michael Bennett a NYPD detective who, in a major subplot, has 10 adopted children and a wife dying of cancer. The main story revolves around the hostage-taking of a group of wealthy celebrities during the state funeral for a former first lady. Bennett is called in as a hostage negotiator. The story unfolds during the week before and during Christmas while Bennett's wife is in the last stages of cancer.

Strengths of Step on a Crack: I loved Bennett's character and especially enjoyed his interactions with his dying wife. Patterson was able to make me truly believe the love between these two people, even though this was a subplot to the story and wasn't given as much time in the story as the hostage drama. I also liked the tension created between Bennett and the main hostage taker "Jack." Jack was just crazy enough, in a cunning way, to pull the whole thing off so it left the reader really wondering what would happen. The celebrities, while obvious rip-offs of current celebrities, were amusing. I found myself thinking about how Oprah or Lindsey Lohan would have handled the hostage situation.

Weaknesses of Step on a Crack: I wanted more time with Bennett's kids and his wife. It took a great leap of faith to accept that Bennett would work this hostage crisis during Christmas and be away from his wife and kids. An au pair shows up in the story at just the right time to care for the kids. While Patterson does explain it, it, again, requires a leap of faith from the reader. There is a twist at the end of the hostage story when Bennett realizes that Jack had inside help and information. I thought this came out of the blue and that Patterson didn't set this up very well. The reader knew there was outside help, but it shouldn't have taken a former hostage to clue Bennett in. I found the whole ending to be rather weak.

Overall, I'd give this one 3 stars. It was fun and enjoyable, as long as you are willing to overlook some plot flaws. I would want to read another Bennett story because I enjoyed his family and want to learn more about them. If you've read this one, I'd love to know how you felt about the ending.

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