Sub-text of family, love, community and loss, is killer
By Derryll White
Patterson, James And Michael Ledwidge (2007). Step On A Crack.
I have said this before. I do not appreciate James Patterson’s (and his publisher of course) factory approach to writing. He has five or six co-authors and churns out a continuing shelf of new releases. Having said that, however, I have to eat my words because I was in tears by Chapter 3 while reading ‘Step On A Crack.’
A brand new character is introduced here, Michael Bennett. He is a senior detective in the NYPD Homicide Division, has adopted kids ranging from three to 12, and has a wife dying of cancer. When they all visit the hospital my own emotions were overwhelmed. I have to admit it – good storytelling.
Bennett gets caught up in all the cops and robbers stuff, as he is supposed to. That part of the novel has lots of action and evil packed into it. The story moves along as rapidly as New York itself, to an inexorable conclusion. All cop/action-junkey readers will be very happy.
But all the viciousness and meanness is slowed and put on alert by Michael Bennett’s dying wife, Maeve. She adds (for me bitter-sweet) perspective. There is tenderness and love amid the chaos and murder.
So, I have to say it – I enjoyed the book. The main text of crime and violence was okay, but the sub-text of family and love, community and loss, was a killer. I shed many tears while reading ‘Step On A Crack.’ I am sure Michael Bennett will be back in a continuing series.
Excerpts from the novel:
PERSPECTIVE – But something strange happened when my son Brian helped her back onto her bed and put the pageant on the TV. Maeve started laughing. Not polite little giggles either, but gasping-for-breath belly laughs. I moved next to her, and her hand found mine behind the wall of our kids.
For the next 10 minutes, the hospital room disappeared, and we could have been on our beat-up couch at home, watching the Yanks or one of our favorite old movies.
DEATH/LOVE – “I love you, Mike,” she said urgently.
Oh God! I thought. Not now. Please, not now!
My hand went for the nurse’s button, but Maeve batted it away. A tear rolled down her taut face as she shook her head.
Then she smiled.
She looked into my eyes. It was as if she could see some distant place within them. Some new land she was about to travel to.
“Be happy,” she said.
Then she let go of my hand.
As her fingertips left the surface of my palm, I felt as though somewhere deep inside me something shattered and a hole opened.
– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them. When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.
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