This is the third book that James Patterson has written in partnership with Michael Ledwidge. Fortunately, the partnership has not altered Mr. Patterson’s style or pace. I consider Worst Case the best of the trio.
I like James Patterson’s short chapters. It fits the way I read, a little here a little there. The short chapters make it easy to keep up with the characters and plot.
In Worst Case, NYPD detective Mike Bennett’s family activities are interrupted by a series of kidnappings and murders of children of prominent New York families. Because the families know people who know people the CARD (Child Abduction Rapid Deployment) team of the FBI is called into the investigation. Over the objections of Detective Mike Bennett, the FBI sends in agent Emily Parker to aid the Major Case Unit of the NYPD. Mike is reluctant to accept agent Parker until she proves her physical prowess and investigative skill.
As the investigation progresses so does the professional and personal relationship between Mike and Emily. This creates a tiff between Mike and his nanny Mary Catherine who seems to be falling in love with the detective who does not have a clue about her feelings. Emily seems intent on seducing Mike but at the last minute he reneges. Emily is furious and as the elevator door closes between them shouts, “It’s the nanny isn’t it.” Clueless Mike still doesn’t get it. It could be his Catholic upbringing or his moralistic outlook or perhaps the memory of his late wife.
The kidnapper/murderer proves to be a paradox for the investigative team He is profiled as a leftover antiwar activist from the 70s yet seems to be highly intelligent, well educated and a meticulous planner. He kidnaps and murders the prominent children with no apparent motive. He quizzes his victims about environmental and social issues before killing them. Apparently, one student passes the test and is released.
The team thinks they have finally found the motive for the kidnappings when a disabled law student is abducted and ransom sought; but is it? There is misdirection and a Red Herring but Mike and Emily eventually figure it out. The detective and FBI agent work with, against and around other agencies until their joint efforts force the perpetrator into a drastic move at the New York Stock Exchange.
The action throughout the book is gripping and face paced and the ending is satisfying. Detective novel fans should find Worst Case an enjoyable read.