Tick Tock Review
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James Patterson may not be an A-list movie star or an outrageous pop star, but he’s certainly an entertainment genius. Between standalone novels spanning almost every literary genre and a handful of ongoing series for readers of all ages, he’s sold hundreds of millions of books. He’s also had a number of movies adapted from his novels—and he makes occasional appearances on TV’s Castle. So there’s a pretty good chance that most of us, at one time or another, have been exposed to Patterson and his work. If you have yet to pick up one of his books, though, I highly recommend starting with his Michael Bennett crime thrillers (co-written with Michael Ledwidge)—a series that seems to get even better with each new release.

As the fourth installment, Tick Tock, opens, NYPD Detective Michael Bennett is enjoying a much-needed beach vacation with his huge, blended family when he gets the dreaded call from his boss. Someone left a bomb at the main branch of the New York Public Library—along with a note that promises more horrors to come—and Mike’s needed on the scene.

Leaving his family and their relaxing seaside getaway behind, Mike races to the scene to begin his investigation. It isn’t long before bodies begin to turn up around the city, and Mike’s former colleague, FBI Agent Emily Parker, is called in to help track the killer, who appears to be copying some of the most notorious criminals in New York’s history. At the same time, though, Mike finds himself with even more problems to solve—from a bullying situation back at the beach house to his conflicting feelings for his partner and his kids’ beloved nanny, Mary Catherine.

Once again, Patterson and Ledwidge have teamed up to take readers on a breakneck literary thrill ride. From prologue to epilogue, Tick Tock is fast-paced and fascinating, shifting its attention from Mike’s ongoing investigation to the cold and calculating copycat killer at the most suspenseful moments.

Somewhere, though, in the middle of Mike’s race to find the killer and the killer’s race to complete his deadly mission, a few of the finer details get a bit lost. The motive is there, but it seems rather weak—and a twist regarding the killer’s identity feels forced. Still, Tick Tock is more about the thrill of the chase than the finer points of the case—and what a thrilling chase it is! Like Mike, you’ll never know what the killer will do (or where he’ll strike) next—and the higher the body count, the greater the suspense.

Meanwhile, though the Emily / Mary Catherine love triangle often feels like an unnecessary distraction from the action and adventure of the case, subplots involving things like Mike’s romantic entanglements and his run-ins with bullies at the beach house help to further develop the character. In fact, it’s Mike’s unconventional family—including 10 adopted kids, their pretty Irish nanny, and Mike’s wise-cracking grandfather-turned-priest, Seamus—that gives the series its character. And pages spent with the lovable Bennett family are never wasted.

Whether you’re new to Patterson’s crime thrillers or you’re a long-time fan, Tick Tock is a great choice. With its brisk pacing, its gripping suspense, and its likable hero, it’s the kind of crowd-pleasing adventure that keeps Patterson firmly planted on bestseller lists.

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