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 part  #5 of  Michael Bennett Series

 

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I, Michael Bennett mb-5


  I, Michael Bennett

  ( Michael Bennett - 5 )

  James Patterson

  Detective Michael Bennett arrests an infamous South American crime lord in a deadly chase that leaves Bennett’s lifelong friend Hughie McDonough dead. From jail, the prisoner vows to rain epic violence down upon New York City - and to get revenge on Michael Bennett.To escape the chaos, Bennett takes his ten kids and their beautiful nanny, Mary Catherine, on a much-needed vacation to his family’s cabin near Newburgh, New York. But instead of the calm and happy town he remembers growing up in, they step into a nightmare. Newburgh is an inferno of warring gangs, and there’s little the police - or Bennett - can do to keep the children safe.As violence overwhelms the state, Bennett is torn between protecting his hometown and saving New York City. A partner in his investigations, federal prosecutor Tara McLellan, brings him new weapons for the battle - and an attraction that endangers his relationship with Mary Catherine.

  A no-holds-barred, pedal-to-the-floor, action-packed novel, I, Michael Bennett is James Patterson at his most personal and most thrilling best.

  About the Book

  Police officers shot

  Detective Michael Bennett arrests an infamous South American crime lord in a deadly chase that leaves Bennett’s lifelong friend Hughie McDonough dead. From jail, the prisoner vows to rain epic violence down upon New York City – and to get revenge on Michael Bennett.

  Judges murdered

  To escape the chaos, Bennett takes his ten kids and their beautiful nanny, Mary Catherine, on a much-needed vacation to his family’s cabin near Newburgh, New York. But instead of the calm and happy town he remembers growing up in, they step into a nightmare. Newburgh is an inferno of warring gangs, and there’s little the police – or Bennett – can do to keep the children safe.

  Target: Michael Bennett

  As violence overwhelms the state, Bennett is torn between protecting his hometown and saving New York City. A partner in his investigations, federal prosecutor Tara McLellan, brings him new weapons for the battle – and an attraction that endangers his relationship with Mary Catherine.

  A no-holds-barred, pedal-to-the-floor, action-packed novel, I, Michael Bennett is James Patterson at his most personal and most thrilling best.

  About the Author

  James Patterson is one of the best-known and biggest-selling writers of all time. He is the author of some of the most popular series of the past decade – the Alex Cross, Women’s Murder Club and Detective Michael Bennett novels – and he has written many other number one bestsellers including romance novels and stand-alone thrillers. He lives in Florida with his wife and son.

  James is passionate about encouraging children to read. Inspired by his own son who was a reluctant reader, he also writes a range of books specifically for young readers. James has formed a partnership with the National Literacy Trust, an independent, UK-based charity that changes lives through literacy. In 2010, he was voted Author of the Year at the Children’s Choice Book Awards in New York.

  Find out more at www.jamespatterson.co.uk

  Become a fan of James Patterson on Facebook

  Also by James Patterson

  PRIVATE NOVELS

  Private (with Maxine Paetro) • Private London (with Mark Pearson) • Private Games (with Mark Sullivan)

  ALEX CROSS NOVELS

  Along Came a Spider • Kiss the Girls • Jack and Jill • Cat and Mouse • Pop Goes the Weasel • Roses are Red • Violets are Blue • Four Blind Mice • The Big Bad Wolf • London Bridges • Mary, Mary • Cross • Double Cross • Cross Country • Alex Cross’s Trial (with Richard DiLallo) • I, Alex Cross • Cross Fire • Kill Alex Cross

  THE WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB SERIES

  1st to Die • 2nd Chance (with Andrew Gross) • 3rd Degree (with Andrew Gross) • 4th of July (with Maxine Paetro) • The 5th Horseman (with Maxine Paetro) • The 6th Target (with Maxine Paetro) • 7th Heaven (with Maxine Paetro) • 8th Confession (with Maxine Paetro) • 9th Judgement (with Maxine Paetro) • 10th Anniversary (with Maxine Paetro) • 11th Hour (with Maxine Paetro)

  DETECTIVE MICHAEL BENNETT SERIES

  Step on a Crack (with Michael Ledwidge) • Run for Your Life (with Michael Ledwidge) • Worst Case (with Michael Ledwidge) • Tick Tock (with Michael Ledwidge)

  STAND-ALONE THRILLERS

  Sail (with Howard Roughan) • Swimsuit (with Maxine Paetro) • Don’t Blink (with Howard Roughan) • Postcard Killers (with Liza Marklund) • Toys (with Neil McMahon) • Now You See Her (with Michael Ledwidge) • Kill Me If You Can (with Marshall Karp) • Guilty Wives (with David Ellis, to be published July 2012)

  NON-FICTION

  Torn Apart (with Hal and Cory Friedman) • The Murder of King Tut (with Martin Dugard)

  ROMANCE

  Sundays at Tiffany’s (with Gabrielle Charbonnet) • The Christmas Wedding (with Richard DiLallo)

  FAMILY OF PAGE-TURNERS

  MAXIMUM RIDE SERIES

  The Angel Experiment • School’s Out Forever • Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports • The Final Warning • Max • Fang • Angel

  DANIEL X SERIES

  The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (with Michael Ledwidge) • Daniel X: Watch the Skies (with Ned Rust) • Daniel X: Demons and Druids (with Adam Sadler) • Daniel X: Game Over (with Ned Rust)

  WITCH & WIZARD SERIES

  Witch & Wizard (with Gabrielle Charbonnet) • Witch & Wizard: The Gift (with Ned Rust) • Witch & Wizard: The Fire (with Jill Dembowski)

  ILLUSTRATED NOVELS

  Daniel X: Alien Hunter Graphic Novel (with Leopoldo Gout) • Maximum Ride: Manga Vol. 1 (with NaRae Lee) • Maximum Ride: Manga Vol. 2 (with NaRae Lee) • Maximum Ride: Manga Vol. 3 (with NaRae Lee) • Maximum Ride: Manga Vol. 4 (with NaRae Lee) • Maximum Ride: Manga Vol. 5 (with NaRae Lee) • Middle School (with Chris Tebbetts and Laura Park)

  For more information about James Patterson’s novels, visit www.jamespatterson.co.uk

  Or become a fan on Facebook

  To the people of the most beautiful city on the Hudson, one of the most beautiful rivers in the world. Live in peace.

  For Bob Hatfield, Mick Fescoe, and the rest of the gang from St. Patrick’s.

  Prologue

  CITY MICE

  ONE

  ORANGE LAKE, NEW YORK

  SIXTY MILES NORTH OF NEW YORK CITY

  STARTING TO GASP as she climbed the increasingly steep slope of the tangled hiking trail, Mary Catherine was about to take a breather when the tree line opened. Glancing out over the open ridge, she immediately halted in her tracks, as what was left of her breath was suddenly taken.

  Off to the right, the flat lake and majestic foothills of the Catskill Mountains glowed in the soft morning light like a priceless Hudson River School landscape come to life. Mary Catherine stood for a moment, mesmerized by the exhilarating vista, the distant golden hills, the mile-long expanse of silvery blue water, smooth and perfect as a freshly tucked-in sheet.

  Only for a moment.

  Two geese floating by the near shore of the lake took frantic, honking flight as a large projectile landed in the water beside them with a tremendous, booming slap.

  “Youkilis tries to tag from third!” Eddie Bennett yelled as the baseball-size rock he’d just chucked sent violent ripples over the serene water. He dropped to his knees as he threw his arms up in dramatic triumph. “But the Yankees’ new center fielder, Eddie the Laser Beam Bennett, throws him out by a mile. Ball game over. Pennant over. Thuuuuh Yankees win!”

  “Mary Catherine!” protested one of the girls from the front of the long, single-file line of children already on the move through the trees farther down the trail.

  There were ten of
them in all, six girls, four boys. Being a mix of Spanish and Asian, black and white, and ranging in age from seven to sixteen, they were often mistaken for a small Montessori school.

  But they weren’t, Mary Catherine knew. They were a family, believe it or not. A large, raucous, often aggravating, but ultimately always loving family. One she found herself smack-dab in the middle of again and again for some reason.

  Who was she kidding? she thought as she hauled Eddie up and sent him scurrying ahead of her along the forest path. She knew the reason, or at least the main one. His name was Mike Bennett, the NYPD detective father of these ten crazy kids, stuck back in the city on a case. Which meant she was on riot patrol without backup here at the Bennett family lake house. At least until the weekend.

  This latest frenzied fiasco of an outdoor adventure was actually courtesy of the two littlest ones, Shawna and Chrissy: a first-ever Bennett family vacation breakfast picnic. But it was Jane, the Girl Scout, who had turned it into a full-blown nature walk with her Orange County field guide. An activity Ricky, Eddie, and Trent were determined to tease into oblivion at every turn, of course.

  Less than a minute later, Mary Catherine watched helplessly as, midway down the hiking line, Ricky Bennett suddenly hopped up on a rock and began making drumbeat sounds with his mouth. It was a rap beat, Mary Catherine knew. The very same one the thirteen-year-old had driven them all crazy with on last night’s two-hour ride up here.

  “Uh-oh. Here we go. More dissension in the ranks,” Mary Catherine mumbled as she hurried forward through the column of kids.

  His brother Trent, seizing the moment, immediately jumped up beside Ricky and joined in the fun with a manic, high-pitched, scratching-squeaking sound.

  “Y’all, I’m sick of this wood. Get me back to my ’hood,” Ricky rapped in a bellowing voice before the two knuckled-headed boys collapsed in bursts of laughter.

  “Mary Catherine!” fourteen-year-old Jane shrieked this time.

  Mary Catherine finally arrived from the rear of the file, forcing a scowl across her face to hide her smile.

  She thought the boys were actually pretty funny but, of course, being an experienced nanny and nobody’s fool, she would take that secret to her grave.

  “Boys, you will cease this instant,” Mary Catherine said to them as sternly as her lilting Irish brogue would allow. “Nature walks are about relaxation. We’ll not have your human beat-bashing nonsense.”

  “It’s beatboxing, Mary Catherine,” Ricky said helpfully, between giggles. “Human beatboxing.”

  “I’ll box you about your human head and shoulders in about three seconds,” Mary Catherine said, pulling his hat down over his face. She whirled around and busted Eddie making faces over her shoulder.

  “And for you, Eddie Andrew Bennett,” she said, poking his chest, “another rock near one of Orange County’s fine feathered friends and we’ll see if that portable PlayStation of yours can throw Youkilis out from third!”

  TWO

  HEADING BACK TO the rear of the line, Mary Catherine looked pleadingly at the two oldest Bennett kids, Juliana and Brian, for some much-needed assistance, but they avoided her gaze—eyes expressionless, zombielike, as if they were sleepwalking. Wasn’t looking like any help was on the way from the teen ranks this early in the a.m. She was on her own and surrounded on all sides, she thought, flicking a drop of sweat from her nose.

  After they got up here late last night, maybe this was a bit too much too soon. But then again, wasn’t the entire point of vacation to get these kids out of the concrete jungle of Manhattan and up here into the clean, fresh country air? They would happily laze around in their pajamas until noon if she let them. Like all good Marine Corps drill instructors and nuns, she knew it was better to get an ironclad routine going straight off the bat, and then get them used to it, no matter how painful it was at first. If she’d learned anything in the last few years as the world’s hardest-working nanny, it was that.

  And despite all the tomfoolery, Jane was making the best of it, at least. The head of their expedition thumbed through her guidebook as they continued along the path. She brought the party to a halt as she came upon some small gray birds making creaking chirps as they bathed in a forest creek. She lifted the binoculars from around her neck.

  “Is that a dove?” Fiona whispered as she crouched alongside her. “No, wait. A plover, right?”

  “Yes, very good, Fiona,” Jane whispered back, flicking and stopping on a page to make a notation. “That is a plover. A semipalmated plover, I believe.”

  As they continued on, a loud croak began echoing through the trees.

  “Is that a bird, too?” said seven-year-old Chrissy, looking around excitedly.

  “No, Chrissy,” Jane said, patting her little sister on the head. “I’m pretty sure it’s a frog.”

  “I believe it’s a semipalmated frog, to be exact, Chrissy,” called Ricky from the back, to the snickering delight of the boys.

  That’s when it happened. Trent saw it first. He stopped as if he’d hit an invisible wall and began jumping up and down as he repeatedly stabbed a pointing finger toward the undergrowth to the left of the trail.

  “Yeah, well, what the heck is … that?” he screamed.

  Arriving at the scene of the commotion, Mary took a couple of seconds to piece together what was going on. Between the shafts of sunlight, sprawled along the forest floor beside an elm tree, was a large gray silhouette. When the form snorted out a breath, Mary realized it was a deer, a large doe, lying on her side. She also realized there was something on the loamy forest floor beside her, a bulbous gray-green form, slick with moisture. Wisps of steam were rising off the curious blob. It was moving slightly.

  As the prone deer turned and began to lick at the form, Mary Catherine realized what they were witnessing. The deer had just given birth.

  “Ugh!” Trent said.

  “What?” Ricky said.

  “Ewwwwww!” Eddie said.

  “Quiet, children. Hush!” Mary Catherine said, urging them all to crouch down.

  As they kneeled, watching from the trail, the mother deer suddenly stopped licking. The wet gray caul of the newborn deer bulged and then split and a tiny face emerged. The wet creature wriggled and blinked furiously as it rolled out of the steaming birth casing and onto the forest floor.

  Mary Catherine glanced from the wonder they were witnessing to the rest of the crew around her. Every one of the kids was floored, absolutely astonished. Even the boys. Especially the boys. She’d never seen them so wide-eyed. The miracle of life had utterly silenced the peanut gallery.

  They all gasped in unison a moment later as the mother deer suddenly rose in a long, graceful, almost regal movement, her head and ears cocked directly at them. The fawn, still on its side, blinked at its mother and then began to rock, trying to roll over and get its long legs underneath it.

  “Come on. You can do it. Come on,” Chrissy prompted.

  As if hearing Chrissy’s encouragement, the newborn finally stood on all fours. They all watched as it wobbled in place, its legs trembling, its wet eyes wide, its fur in the shafts of light as fuzzy as a bumblebee’s.

  “Oh, my gosh! It looks like a bunny, a long-legged bunny,” Shawna said, clapping with delirious excitement. “It’s the cutest ever, ever, ever.”

  No, that’s you, thought Mary Catherine as she kissed the bouncing little girl on the top of her head. The miracle of life, indeed, she thought, looking from the fawn to the surrounding crowd of crazy sweet kids who had somehow become her life.

  BOOK ONE

  TO CATCH A KING

  CHAPTER 1

  THEY SAY THE neon lights are bright on Broadway, but from where I sat, beside an upstairs window of the Thirty-Fourth Precinct’s brown brick pillbox on Broadway and 183rd Street in Washington Heights, I was seriously having my doubts. In fact, the only illumination I caught at all as I stared out that cold predawn morning was from an ancient set of cheap Christmas lights strung acros
s the faded plastic awning of a bodega across the street.

  And they weren’t even blinking.

  Yawning down at the grim street, I knew it could have been worse. Much worse. Back in 1992, the year I started in the NYPD up here in the Heights—once one of northern Manhattan’s most notorious, drug-riddled neighborhoods—if you saw any twinkling lights in the sky, it was most likely a muzzle flash from a gun being fired on one of the rooftops.

  I was twenty-two back then, fresh out of the Police Academy and looking for action. I got it in heaps. That year, the three-four stacked up a staggering 122 murders. Death really does come in threes, the precinct detectives used to joke, because every three days, like clockwork, it seemed someone in the neighborhood was murdered.

  In the early nineties, the neighborhood had become a wholesale drug supermarket, an open-air cocaine Costco. At 2:00 a.m. on Saturdays, it looked like the dinner rush at a McDonald’s drive-through, as long lines of jittery customers idled in the narrow, tenement-lined streets.

  But we had turned it around, I reminded myself as I looked out at the still-dark streets. Eventually, we locked up the dealers and boarded up the crack houses until the cokeheads and junkies were finally convinced that the Heights was back to being a neighborhood instead of a drugstore.

  And by “we,” I mean the veteran cops who “raised” me, as they say on the job—the Anti-Crime Unit grunts who took me under their wing, who showed me what it was to be a cop. A lot of them were actual Vietnam veterans who’d traded a foreign war for our unending domestic drug war. Day in and day out, we cruised the streets, making felony collars, taking guns off the street, putting bad guys behind bars.

  Sitting here twenty years later, working my latest case, I kept thinking more and more about those fearless cops. As I sat looking out the window, I actually fantasized that they would arrive any minute, pulling into the special angled parking spaces below and hopping out of their cars, ready to give me some much-needed backup.

 
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