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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also a film journalist/critic for Cocktails & Movies and CinemaBlend, as well as the author of several short stories such as "The Devil v. George W. Bush". Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: mikereyeswrites@gmail.com

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Book Review: "Worst Case" by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the fine folks at Hachette Book Group. I'm not getting paid for this, I just do it out of the enjoyment of reading. If you're interested

When we last saw Detective Michael Bennett, he chased an educated maniac, got into a bit of a fight, and crashed a plane, thus saving the lives of plenty of New York's finest blue bloods. A year later, a new perpetrator has risen, and his M.O. is the same...to give the rich of the city that never sleeps a scare that they'll never forget. Only this time, the killer isn't targeting the rich and the privileged...he's targeting their children.

Worst Case is the latest in the Bennett series that James Patterson collaborates with Michael Ledwidge on writing, and though the series is in early days this installment is, so far, the most packed with action. Within the first part of the book, the body count escalates rather quickly and sharply thanks to our antagonist. His methods are simple but brutal: abduct the children of the rich in order to quiz them on statistics dealing with Third World Nations. His "exams" come at a cost though...too many wrong answers, and the victim is dead. This is something Bennett and his new (temporary) partner Emily Parker learn the hard way, their tempers escalating with each victim unsuccessfully recovered. Also, we see the beginnings of a possible relationship between Michael and his housekeeper Mary Catherine...that is, if Emily doesn't get to him first.

The Bennett series has hit its stride with this entry, as it is even more fast pace and even more exciting than last year's Run For Your Life. I have to say, I enjoyed this book more than I'd expected. The antagonist was more entertaining and a little more sympathetic than The Teacher. (Though I'll confess, I was hoping there'd be some sort of connection to The Teacher at the end. Maybe in future books it'll be revealed that "The Teacher" was teaching his lessons to so many others in order to propagate his gospel. Just a thought.) In fact, all of the characters seemed to be interacting better than before. Maybe it's because the story was more galvanized this time around, but damn did they pull off quite the caper in this book.

My only complaint would be with the Antagonist's methods. While it's interesting to see a bad guy with a good intention, the whole "classroom" setting feels just a little bit too much like something out of the Jigsaw playbook. Not to mention, why have someone who teaches the world a lesson when we had a killer in the last book who went as far as to call himself "The Teacher". If he were explained as a copycat killer, I could understand, otherwise I'm left to question if the American Federation of Teachers is really nothing more than a group of psychopaths disguised as educators. Whatever the case, they can score another win for Patterson and Ledwidge, because I'm officially invested in the Detective Michael Bennett saga. I eagerly await the next installment of the saga.

I'm currently reading: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

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