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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.

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 across 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.

Because though we’d won the battle of Washington Heights, the war on drugs wasn’t over. Not by a long shot.

I turned away from the window and looked back at the pages of an arrest report spread across the battered desk in front of me.

In fact, the war was just getting started. It was about to flare up bigger and badder and deadlier than ever before.

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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