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Tuesday, December 1, 2015


A perfect example of James Patterson’s very popular and incredibly successful method of storytelling. (Review by Keith Millar)

Alert is the eighth book in James Patterson’s Detective Michael Bennett thriller series that he co-authors with Michael Ledwidge.

It is also the first Michael Bennett story I have read - and therein lies the problem. Typical of the James Patterson style, little time is spent in this book on character development. So, beyond the obvious information that he is a hotshot New York Police Department detective, I knew nothing about him or his back story.

References to a number of kids, a father who is a Father (the Catholic type) and a possible love interest with someone called Mary Catherine were all a bit of a mystery to me.

Then, on completing the book, I found tucked away at the back an additional section entitled Who Is Detective Michael Bennett. So, now I know that he is a father of 10 adopted kids. His wife died at a young age from cancer. His father is indeed a Father and Mary Catherine is the children’s Nanny. There is an on off-romance between them which at the moment is very much on.

My advice, if you acquire this book, would be to start at the end before starting at the beginning. It will help you to understand the main character.

That aside, the book is a perfect example of James Patterson’s very popular and incredibly successful method of storytelling. It has an action-packed plot and interesting characters. The story moves at an incredible pace. The action is relentless and the suspense unyielding. The chapters are short and sharp and the scenes change with dizzying regularity. One almost gets the sense of reading a script for one of the numerous second rate cop series we are exposed on television to these days. It is in fact, the perfect escapist entertainment.

In the story, New York is facing a threat greater than that of the 9/11 strikes on the World Trade Centre. There has already been a series of devastating attacks on the city where the perpetrators have used the very latest in technical, electronic and robotic gizmos to wreak havoc. There has also been a shocking assassination which sends shockwaves around the city.

Now there is a plot afoot which, if successful, could wipe New York off the face of the earth – and there is very little time left for the good guys to find a way to avoid the disaster.

The villains are exceedingly clever and dastardly evil, and they lead ace Detective Michael Bennett and his cohorts on a merry chase as they attempt to destroy New York.

James Patterson has remarkable record as a writer. He is one of the best known and certainly best-selling authors of all time. He has sold in excess of 300 million books and it is estimated that one in four hardcover suspense/thriller books sold is one of his. He is the first writer to have sold 10 million e-books and he holds the record for the most No.1 Best Sellers ever (Including Alert).

So, with this level of popularity and demand for his style of storytelling it would be foolish to be critical of his work. Suffice it to say that Alert is a typical James Patterson offering which should please his many followers. Just don’t expect any intellectual stimulation from the read.

Alert is published by Century. The ISBN is 978 1 7808 9271 9 and the recommended retail price is R285. – Keith Millar