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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.


Chapter 6

SWEATING UNDER HEAVY Kevlar in a Saint Nicholas Avenue tenement stairwell, I panned my binoculars over a C-Town supermarket and a cell phone store onto Candelerio’s restaurant, Margaritas.

It was cold and windy outside, the sky over the jagged skyline of five-story walk-ups the color of a lead pipe. As in all stakeouts, the minutes were going by in geologic time, as if everything in the world had hit slo-mo.

I checked my phone for the hundredth time. The screen said 10:40. Another hour or so to go until noon. A depressing thought came as I remembered the photos of the armed-tothe-teeth Mexican drug dealers and the shot-to-pieces minivan: High Noon.

I certainly didn’t want the arrest to turn into a showdown, but considering the person we were arresting, I was ready if it did. Like the rest of the task force, I was packing heavy firepower—an M4 assault rifle with a holographic sight, along with my Glock. New York cops aren’t necessarily Boy Scouts, but we do like to always be prepared.

The DEA SWAT team, bristling with ballistic shields and MP5 submachine guns, was hidden in a bakery van around the corner, and there were another half dozen backup cops and FBI agents in the building across the street, watching the alley at the restaurant’s rear.

We were settled in our blind with the trap set. Now all we needed was for Perrine to walk into it.

“Hey, what’s that?” Hughie said, suddenly sitting up at the windowsill beside me.

“What? Where?” I said, frantically swiveling my binoculars left and right, down toward the sidewalk.

“Not the street,” McDonough said. “The sound. Listen.”

I dropped the Nikon binocs and cocked an ear out the open stairwell window to catch the heavy driving thump of a dance song coming from somewhere in the wilderness of tenements around us.

“Someone’s having a morning disco party. So what?”

“Don’t you remember?” McDonough said, bopping his head up and down to the beat. “‘Rhythm Is a Dancer.’ That’s the same song they played that summer we worked together in the nineties. I used to vogue to this jammie.”

“Growing up just flat-out isn’t going to happen for you, is it, Hughie?” I said, passing my shirtsleeve over my sweat-soaked face.

We continued to watch and wait. A vein twitched along my eye when Hughie’s cell phone trilled at eleven on the dot.

The thumbs-up he gave me confirmed it was the FBI operations team up in Westchester County that was surveilling Candelerio. Aerial and ground teams had been covering the Dominican for the last week. This morning we’d brought every local PD from Westchester and the Bronx into the loop in case there was some unforeseen detour and we had to do a traffic stop.

“Candelerio is rolling, headed out toward the Saw Mill River Parkway right on schedule,” Hughie said, ending the call. “ETA in thirty. Get this, though. Our spotter said his wife and three girls are with him, and they’re all dressed up.”

I frowned. We were already doing the arrest in a public place. Having Candelerio’s family around would only make things even more complicated.

“Dressed up?” I said. “He’s bringing his family to meet Perrine?”

McDonough shrugged.

“Who knows with a family of drug dealers?” he said. “Maybe meeting the Sun King is like meeting real royalty to them. How many opportunities do you get to have an audience with a king?”

I went back to my window perch. I pinned the glasses onto every car that slowed, onto every pedestrian who walked past on the sidewalk. With Candelerio on the way, it meant that Perrine would be coming along any moment now.

My heart fluttered into my throat as a kitted-out black Escalade suddenly pulled up in front of the restaurant. A back door popped open, and out came three men. I tried to spot faces, but all I caught were Yankees baseball caps and aviator sunglasses before the three were inside.

“Did anybody see? Is it Perrine? Can anyone confirm ID?” I frantically called over the radio.

“Negative. No confirmation,” called the DEA SWAT.

“Not sure,” called a cop from the team at the restaurant’s rear. “They went in too fast.”

“Damn it,” I said as Hughie whistled by the window.

“Mike, movement. Six o’clock,” he said.

I panned the glasses back to the restaurant, where a dark-skinned Dominican waitress with big silver hoop earrings and short black hair was stepping out onto the sidewalk.

The attractive Rihanna look-alike was named Valentina Jimenez, and she was a cousin of the informant who was helping us out on the case. She’d come out to give us the signal. If Valentina lit a cigarette, it would mean that she had spotted Perrine.

I watched her intently as she stood in front of the restaurant, looking up and down the street.

“Stand by,” I said into the radio, ready to give the other teams the green light.

That’s when it happened.

Valentina did something, but it wasn’t lighting a cigarette.

She glanced back into the restaurant and then bolted in her high heels at top speed down Saint Nicholas Avenue as though she were running for 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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