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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 5

BY 8:00 A.M., THE upstairs muster room was crowded with our FBI, DEA, and NYPD joint task force.

Joint task forces usually comprise about a dozen agents and cops, but for this international event, a total of thirty handpicked veteran investigators were present and accounted for. They stood around, joking and backslapping, buzzing with caffeine, anticipation, and adrenaline.

As the final prearrest meeting got started, I spotted about a dozen or so big bosses from each of the represented agencies. Bringing them in at the last second was a courtesy, an opportunity for them to say they were part of things when the TV cameras started rolling.

Of course, that’s what they’d say if it all turned out okay, I thought as Hughie and I went up to the front of the room. If it all went to hell and heads needed to roll, the honchos were never there.

“Morning, ladies and gents,” I said. “We’ve been over this a number of times, but I see a few new faces late to the party, so here’s the lowdown.”

I turned to the whiteboard beside me and tapped the Sun King’s picture.

“This, as everyone knows by now, is our main target, Manuel Perrine. He runs the Tepito Mexican drug cartel, which has been tied to as many as seven hundred murders in the last three years.”

“That guy’s Mexican?” said some white-haired NYPD chief whom I’d never seen before. It was always the upper-echelon tourists in these meetings who busted the most chops.

I rolled my eyes toward Hughie, prompting him to take the question.

“Actually, he’s from French Guiana originally,” McDonough said. “In the nineties, his family moved to France, where he became a member of the Naval Commandos, France’s version of the Navy SEALs. In the early aughts, he returned to South America and did a stint as a mercenary, training guerrillas for FARC, the narco-terrorist group in Colombia. He’s been linked to dozens of FARC kidnappings and murders, as well as a 2001 truck-bomb assassination of a Colombian regional governor, which killed fifteen people.”

I jumped in before the chief could interrupt again. “Around 2005, after the Colombian military crackdown, Perrine ended up in Mexico again, working as a mercenary, this time for the various cartels to train their drug mules and enforcers.”

Hughie added, “He’s one of the guys personally responsible for the escalation of the hyperviolence we’ve seen over the last few years among the cartels. He militarized these scum-bags and has planned, and personally taken part in, several dozen Mexican law enforcement ambushes and assassinations.”

“That’s why when we make contact, we need to take him down as soon as possible and use wrist and ankle cuffs,” I said to the people who would actually take part in the arrest. “This guy might dress like Clinton from What Not to Wear, but he’s a stone-cold special forces–trained psychopathic killer. You give him a chance, he’ll embed a chunk of lead in your brain like he’s picking out a silk tie.”

“Why is he in New York, again?” said another tourist, a short, pasty FBI lifer who was sitting like an overgrown cave troll on the edge of a desk. “He run out of people to kill in Mexico?”

“Because of this man,” I said over the chuckles.

I pointed to a photo of a smiling, heavyset Angel Candelerio on the whiteboard beside the photo of Perrine.

“Candelerio is the head of the Dominicans Forever drug gang, which runs most of the drugs, sex trafficking, and gambling north of Ninety-Sixth Street. Not that you could tell by the image he likes to front. He lives up in Bedford next to Mariah Carey and Martha Stewart and has a chauffeur-driven Lincoln limo and a daughter in NYU law school.

“The FBI Special Surveillance Group is on Candelerio’s house as we speak. They’re going to follow him to the arrest site here,” I said, pointing to a third photograph, which showed Margaritas, Candelerio’s Washington Heights restaurant, where the reunion with Perrine was to take place.

“I didn’t ask where,” the old FBI troll said as he twiddled his thumbs. “I asked why.”

“NYPD received info that Candelerio and Perrine are old friends from the same village in French Guiana,” Hughie said, taking my back. “Candelerio has connections in the Caribbean and Europe in addition to the city, so we think that with Perrine taking so much heat down in Mexico, he’s going to make another move with the help of his old friend.”

“But isn’t the guy a billionaire?” said the little agent as he lifted a rubber band off the desk and started playing with it. “I mean, Perrine’s—what? Late forties? He’s financially set. Why not retire? Also, why risk your ass coming into the U.S. at all? Crafty bastards, even evil ones like Perrine here, don’t usually act stupid, as a general rule.”

“Who knows?” I said to the annoying devil’s advocate with a shrug. “He hates America? He thinks he’s bulletproof? He’s rubbing our noses in it?”

I pointed to the photo of the restaurant again.

“Whatever the reason is,” I said, “at noon today, two blocks from where we’re sitting, Perrine is due to meet Candelerio. We’re going to let Perrine sit down and get comfy, and then we’re going to crash the party. We all know our jobs. It’s time to do them.”

“Sounds good. How’s the legal situation?” asked a young, bored-looking FBI SAC as he checked his BlackBerry.

“We already have the paperwork,” I said, lifting up the yellow envelope containing Perrine’s sealed indictment and the warrant for his arrest, which had been signed by the U.S. District Court.

“All we need now is to deliver it,” Hughie said.

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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