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Author: James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Title: Tick Tock

Publisher: Century

Hardback: 387 pages

ISBN: 978-1-84-605760-1

Price: £18.99

Publication Date: 20/01/2011

James Patterson’s latest novel – a portmanteau collaboration with Michael Ledwidge – sees the return of Detective Michael Bennett. A wisecracking father-of-ten, Michael is the antithesis of Patterson’s most famous literary creation, Alex Cross [except for the fact that they are both widowers – being a wife in a Patterson novel is a bad career choice!]. However, whilst the central characters may change from novel to novel, some things can always be depended upon from a Patterson book – so it’s no surprise that Tick Tock is a fast and furious read.

Taking a well-earned vacation from the steamy heat of New York City, Michael, his ten children, his grandfather [a loquacious Irish priest] and their Irish nanny, Mary Catherine, retreat to the family’s beach house in Queens. But things prove to be far from relaxing. The family find themselves under attack from the neighbourhood bullies, who are infamous in the area and very well-connected. So when a meticulous and vicious killer brings New York City to its knees, Michael must find a way to protect his family whilst simultaneously tracking down the crazed serial killer terrorising the city.

And, just to really complicate matters, Michael also has to contend with his feelings for two beautiful women – Mary Catherine and Emily Parker, an FBI agent who has past history with him!

Patterson is an author who has his critics – but I am certainly not one of them. Yes, a novel like Tick Tock isn’t going to win any awards and it certainly isn’t reinventing the thriller genre. However, it delivered exactly what I wanted from it – a fast-paced and enjoyably over-the-top read, with Patterson’s usual uncluttered, short-sentenced prose, shorter chapters and frequent cliffhangers [you can certainly see the advertising man he once was in his writing style].

My only slight gripe when reading the novel was with Michael’s over-sexedness [if such a word actually exists!]. The dual love interest story arc involving Mary Catherine and Emily isn’t a problem [in fact it’s an enjoyable sub-plot]. No, what I found a bit uncomfortable was the way in which each time Michael met an attractive woman [which was quite often, let me tell you!], he made slightly pervy remarks that seemed to completely contradict the family-man image he embodies in the rest of the novel.

But this was a slight negative and, it has to be said, one which in no way affected my enjoyment of the book or even my liking of Michael. With its suitably nutty psychopathic killer and supercharged pace, Tick Tock is a slice of pure, unadulterated entertainment.

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