Ambush book review: Fast-paced, short lived


Staff writer, Rana Schenke, reads “Ambush” by James Patterson in the lobby of the Carbondale Police Station, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. (Allie Tiller | @allietiller_de)

By Rana Schenke, Staff Reporter

NYPD detective Michael Bennett is caught in the middle of a drug war and being targeted by an assassin. Determined to find answers, he starts his own investigation into a rash of recent drug-related murders, which seem to be connected to the killer targeting him.

The problem is, Bennett doesn’t know who this killer is or what they want. All he can do is hope he can figure it out before they can kill him or harm his family.

Title: Ambush
Authors: James Patterson and James O. Born
Genre: Thriller
Page count: 432 pages
Release Date: October 2018
11th in the Michael Bennett series
Overall grade: B+


Michael Bennett is back!

The Michael Bennett series is one of my favorites of Patterson’s, so I was excited to see a new installment coming out this month.

This book has all the trademarks of a James Patterson thriller: fast-paced action, cold-blooded murders, and a creative and calculating killer.

I liked that Patterson made the killer sympathetic. A lot of times with his books, the killer is some sort of sadistic psychopath that I want dead from the start.

This killer wasn’t like that. She was a professional killer who was hired to kill Bennett and the other victims.

She also had two daughters whom she called and visited during the course of the book.

Because of her daughters, she tried to avoid involving Bennett’s children, which I appreciated because I really dislike it when the killers go after the protagonist’s children in these kinds of books.


Sometimes when an author makes the killer ignore the kids, it feels against their character. In this book, avoiding the kids is a part of the killer’s character, and it makes it difficult for me not to sympathize with her a little.

One of the unique things about the Michael Bennett series is Bennett’s family. At the start of the series, Bennett is raising his ten adopted children by himself after his wife died.

At this point in the series, Bennett is engaged and his oldest daughter, Juliana, is in her senior year of high school.

Juliana has a role in a new TV show, which made for an entertaining subplot as she gets a boyfriend and Bennett, ever the protective father, tries to subtly chase him away.

I liked having a closer look at Bennett’s relationship with his children. It gives the book more heart and differentiates it from Patterson’s other series.

Bennett’s family is one of the reasons I continue to read this series. His close relationships with his children, his fiancée and his grandfather make the series not just a series of detective thrillers, but a portrait of a family, their developments and their struggles.

Also, his grandfather, Seamus, a retired bar owner and widower turned Catholic priest, is easily one Patterson’s most entertaining characters. He’s sarcastic, stubborn and a teller of tall tales, but he loves his family and is always trying to be involved in their lives.

The only issue I had with this book was its speedy resolution. Events feel wrapped up when there’s still over 100 pages left in the book.

I figured this meant there would be a nice resolution to the killer’s story and to the plotline with Juliana, and perhaps Bennett would even catch the person who hired the assassin to kill him.

Instead, the story ended twelve pages later in a brief resolution that was not satisfying in the slightest, and I turned the page to find a short story featuring Michael Bennett that had been released 2017.

I have no problem with the short story itself; I’ve read it and it’s up to par with the rest of the series. I do, however, have an issue with inserting a short story in the end of a book and not advertising it as such.

When I pick up a James Patterson book, I expect it to be relatively short and a quick read. I also expect a preview of one of his other books at the end.

I don’t expect an entire previously released short story taking up valuable page space when the original story could have been continued.

To me, it felt like the original ending didn’t work out in time for publishing, so they tacked a couple of chapters on the end to try and resolve things, then realized they had space to fill and threw in last year’s Michael Bennett short story.

They should have either stuck something on the cover advertising the short story or included one that hadn’t been previously released.

Other than the ending, I thought this was a very engaging book. Not Patterson’s most gripping offering, and the pages dedicated to the short story just made it feel like the book was a filler between the previous book and the inevitable next book. Bennett deserves better.

Staff reporter Rana Schenke can be reached at

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