With this book, Patterson adds another author to his list of collaborators, and the result is pretty encouraging. Ledwige's influence on the novel results in a plot that even though not overly realistic, keeps us engaged in the story until the last page. On top of this, certain elements, like the busy family life of the main characters, give the story a nice balance between the police case at hand and the everyday problems that each of us face.
Everything starts when the Neat Man participates in the murder of former first lady Catherine Hawkins. The key to this event is that everyone assumes it was an accident, since she died from an allergic reaction to peanuts. The fact that no one suspects foul play is crucial for the next step of the plan, which is so craftily and precisely laid out that the police will be constantly on their toes.
Catherine's funeral attracts a variety of wealthy an influential people to St. Patrick's. When a group of men take control of the church, and keep a select number of hostages, the police and FBI are thrown into one of the most difficult sieges in history. The fact that the ringleader of the kidnappers, the obnoxious Jack, seems to always be a step ahead, does not simplify things. Mike Bennett is an NYPD detective that works as a negotiator and is involved in the situation from the start. But this is only part of Mike's problems, since his wife has terminal cancer, and he has to take care of his ten kids. Yes, you read right, it is not a typo; ten kids. Imagine that!
Even though the plot has some portions that are unrealistic, this novel does not have the problems other Patterson's books have had in the recent past. The story is cohesive and flows well, keeping us entertained throughout its duration. I admit that the idea of the ten kids may be a little over the top, but I enjoyed how this worked together with the rest of the story. Also, in this novel I found something that I thought Patterson had lost and that I remembered from the early Alex Cross books: clever, ruthless and believable villains. Finally, the hostage situation, allowed the authors to spend some time on character development, which in my opinion has been one of the main faults in some of Patterson et al latest works, like "The 6th Target".
This is not a literary masterpiece, but if you have read Patterson before you know that this is not something the author is shooting for. What this novel delivers is a fun and enjoyable experience, and that is enough to make it worth reading.