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I, Michael Bennett

Police officers shot

Detective Michael Bennett arrests an infamous Mexican 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 from growing up, they step into a nightmare worse than they could have ever imagined. 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.

Prologue | CITY MICE

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 Catherine 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.

Copyright © 2012 by James Patterson

Read by Bobby Cannavale & Jay Snyder

Bobby Cannavale was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Mauritius. On television, Bobby won an Emmy for his performance in Will & Grace. Bobby's film credits include The Station Agent, Snakes on a Plane, The Bone Collector, and Washington Heights.

Jay Snyder has performed on Broadway and Off-Broadway, regional theater, television, film, and has been working in the voice-over industry.

Audio Excerpts (MP3)
Clip #1
Prologue to Chapter 4
Clip #2
Chapters 5 to 10
Clip #3
Chapters 11 to 16
Clip #4
Chapters 17 to 22
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