Step On a Crack by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

March 3, 2012

Plot summary (from the publisher): With the unexpected death of a beloved former first lady, the nation falls into mourning as the world’s most powerful people gather in New York for her funeral. Then the inconceivable occurs. Billionaires, politicians, and superstars of every kind are suddenly trapped by one man’s brilliant and ruthless scenario.

Pulled into the fray, Detective Michael Bennett-father of ten-faces the most sinister challenge of his career: a criminal who kills without hesitation and counters everything the NYPD and FBI throw at him with impunity. As New York descends into chaos, Bennett learns that the great love of his life, his wife, is battling a terrible disease and he may have to raise their children alone. Now with the entire world watching and the tension reaching a boiling point, Bennett must quickly find a way out-or become responsible for the greatest debacle in history.

From the #1 bestselling author who introduced readers to Alex Cross and the Women’s Murder Club comes the beginning of a brand-new, electrifying series from “one of the bestselling writers in history” (New York Sun). STEP ON A CRACK is James Patterson’s most fiendishly terrifying thriller yet.

Warning: MAJOR spoilers below!

Liked:

  • I’ve come to expect a kind of write-by-numbers effort in all of James Patterson’s books, but this one was a pleasant surprise. It held my interest almost all the way through, and I definitely had a hard time figuring out how the hijackers would escape and who they were. There was a decent amount of suspense in this one, which was unusual.
  • Michael Bennett seems like a good character. At first, I was a bit impatient that the authors spent so much time on his home life, but once I realized this was meant to be the first of a series, I understood the desire/need for all the background info. I’m open to reading more books with Michael in the lead.
  • The crime seemed pretty original to me: killing an important figure in order to have a state funeral in which lots of celebs and VIPs would gather in a single place where they could then be held hostage and forced to pay ransom of $2-3 million each. The hijackers stood to make $76 million off the score… not bad for prison guards!
  • I liked that there was no miracle rescue in this book. VIPs died and the hijackers had their way practically the whole time, up to and including their escape from the premises (by far the hardest part in any hostage standoff).
  • It was cool that the hijackers dressed like monks instead of wearing standard face masks or miller welding helmets to hide their features. The monk garb not only fit in with the location, but would also undoubtedly look very creepy when paired with huge machine guns.

Disliked:

  • Why did the hijackers’ motivation have to be because they were wronged by “the man”? Why is it always someone raging against the machine? Can’t people simply commit these kinds of crimes out of sheer greed? I just didn’t like the pat motive of Jack, the prison guard, dreaming up this scheme with the help of the FBI negotiator after the NYC mayor left him high and dry during a prison riot.
  • I absolutely hated the fact that the authors chose to have one of the male hostages punch Mercedes, the 19-year-old female pop diva, IN THE FACE and knock out two of her teeth after the ordeal was over. Yeah, she was a bitch and sold them out, but does that really give a grown man leave to physically assault a teenage girl???? What made it worse is that it was a totally gratuitous scene that could just as easily have been left out.

Rating:

I have read a bunch of James Patterson + co-author books in the past few years because they’re usually quick and at least somewhat entertaining. I never expect much out of them, and they usually don’t deliver much. But Step On a Crack is definitely one of the better Patterson books I’ve read. It’s tense and exciting in a lot of places, and the plot is not as overwhelmingly predictable as usual. I give this one 4 stars out of 5.

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