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Blindside: A Detective Michael Bennett Thriller

Review

Blindside: A Detective Michael Bennett Thriller

NYPD Detective Michael Bennett is one of James Patterson’s more unlikely yet most realistic creations. He is a widower with 10 (adopted) children, who he is raising with the assistance of Mary Catherine, an Irish nanny (with whom he has fallen in love and become engaged over the course of the series), and his grandfather, who is a Catholic priest. The newly published BLINDSIDE is the 12th book in the series and the third that Patterson has written with bestselling author and Emmy Award-winning screenwriter James O. Born. It is a wild ride from start to finish.

BLINDSIDE is full of surprises. It begins with an intense vignette in which Bennett is called to the scene of a particularly violent double homicide in the Bronx. He takes it upon himself to notify the victims’ survivors, who live just a couple of blocks away. On the way back to the crime scene, he stops at a bodega to buy a Gatorade and suddenly finds himself on the wrong end of an armed robbery. When the smoke clears, Bennett is standing and the would-be robber is rapidly assuming room temperature. The usual suspects, including the media, community activists and an Al Sharpton doppelgänger, immediately accuse Bennett of murdering the robber in cold blood. As per policy in an officer-involved shooting, he is relieved of his duties.

"A secondary plot that has been running through these books for a few years is also resolved, making this latest installment a good place for newcomers to jump onto the series and giving loyal readers a terrific reason to stay with it."

It is immediately clear from security footage that the shooting was justified, but the timing is bad. In order to keep the rabble from accusing the NYPD of a rush to judgment in exonerating Bennett, he officially stays off the job while being given an off-the-books assignment by Alfred Hanna, the mayor of New York. Natalie Lunden, the mayor’s estranged daughter, has gone missing. A computer code prodigy, Natalie was once a promising student at MIT, but went off the rails to the extent that she has not even been in touch with her mother. Hanna is convinced that Bennett can find Natalie and dangles an intriguing quid pro quo in front of him that is impossible to refuse.

Bennett begins by questioning Natalie’s friends and associates. He learns that while no one seems to know where Natalie is, she apparently had been working as a cyber hacker for a brilliant but unstable criminal known as “Henry,” who has been extorting millions of dollars from online companies. This information puts Bennett on a trajectory that intersects with two teams of Henry’s assassins, who have come to New York at cross-purposes and involve Bennett in the first of several violent confrontations that occur throughout the book.

Bennett concludes that Natalie is no longer in New York, and is instead in Henry’s native Estonia. He is highly motivated to find her and travels there on his own, winging it without official backup --- though he is not without allies, grudging and otherwise. However, it isn’t long before the surprising twists and turns begin, making it doubtful that he will bring Natalie home to her parents. Will even he be able to make it back alive?

BLINDSIDE has a fairly straightforward plot, which is good news for those among us of a certain age. The story does not lack for multiple scenes involving explosions and fisticuffs, which are particularly vivid thanks to Born’s well-honed screenwriting chops. The focus of the novel, cybertheft --- a contemporary crime that is not going away any time soon (if at all) --- provides an immediacy to the story. A secondary plot that has been running through these books for a few years is also resolved, making this latest installment a good place for newcomers to jump onto the series and giving loyal readers a terrific reason to stay with it.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on February 28, 2020

Blindside: A Detective Michael Bennett Thriller
by James Patterson and James O. Born

  • Publication Date: February 24, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • ISBN-10: 0316420336
  • ISBN-13: 9780316420334