James Patterson – Step on a Crack
Step on a Crack marks a start of a new series for James Patterson in collaboration with Michael Ledwidge. It introduces Michael Bennett, an FBI negotiator called in to handle a crisis event when America’s top celebrities and rich people are held hostage after being kidnapped at the funeral of the former First lady. Not only that, Michael is also the father of 10 children. Yep 10 children. His wife Maeve is in hospital tragically dying of cancer and Michael is left to deal with the situation of his life at work and raise 10 children on his own.
The premise is good. The struggle between work and home life balance could really be explored here. The reaction of the children at the neglect from their father and coping with the imminent death of their mother could have created some high tension scenes and a great deal of pathos. The pressure of being forced into such a high profile case when Michael is out of his depth could have been fascinating. Could, could, could, could bloody could!!
As you may suspect James and Michael (although for the purpose of the review I will refer to the work as James Patterson’s) do not explore any of these themes, none whatsoever. Instead Michael adapts to the hostage situation like a sparrow to the sky, dealing with the situation effortlessly. Yes, there are times where he feels helpless, but you never get the sense that things are too difficult for him.
The family dynamic feels no different from the Alex Cross set up. All of the children are heavenly, verging on sanguine and they don’t mind being neglected as they are perfectly looked after by an Au pair (readily accepted into the family) and a grandfather.
Michael’s frequent visits to the hospital to see his wife (he is allowed to leave the hostage situation readily despite being the only one that the villain will converse with) are sometimes touching but mostly I found myself hankering for a bit more drama. Why did the relationship have to be so perfect? Why couldn’t they have had a fight recently and every time Michael sees his wife he is consumed by guilt?
Having made those points, the book is not bad. The interaction between Michael and Jack the villain are well handled. Jack is not made out to be too cartoonish, and there is enough shocking behaviour by the kidnappers to keep you interested.
I have to admit I was intrigued to discover how on earth the villains would get away with their actions and when the time came I was not too disappointed. I was disappointed however with the ending. It had a rushed, tacked on feel to it which spoilt all that came before it.
In summary, a typical James Patterson book. Enjoyable for what it was, but should have been so much better. My Rating: 7