Best case: survival
The son of one of New York's wealthiest families is snatched off the street and held hostage. His parents can't save him, because this kidnapper isn't demanding money. Instead, he quizzes his prisoner on the price others pay for his life of luxury. In this exam, wrong answers are fatal.
Worst case: death
Detective Michael Bennett leads the investigation. With ten kids of his own, he can't begin to understand what could lead someone to target anyone's children. As another student disappears, one powerful family after another uses their leverage and connections to turn the heat up on the mayor, the pressanyone who will listento stop this killer. Their reach extends all the way to the FBI, who send their top Abduction Specialist, Agent Emily Parker. Bennett's lifeand love lifesuddenly get even more complicated.
This case: Detective Michael Bennett is on it
Before Bennett has a chance to protest the FBI's intrusion on his case, the mastermind changes his routine. His plan leads up to the most devastating demonstration yetone that could bring cataclysmic devastation to every inch of New York. From the shocking first page to the last exhilarating scene, Worst Case is a non-stop thriller from "America's #1 storyteller" (Forbes).
About the Author
Hometown:Palm Beach, Florida
Date of Birth:March 22, 1947
Place of Birth:Newburgh, New York
Education:B.A., Manhattan College, 1969; M.A., Vanderbilt University, 1971
Read an Excerpt
By James Patterson, Michael Ledwidge
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 2013 James Patterson Michael Ledwidge
All rights reserved.
BOUND IN THE dark, Jacob Dunning thought about all the things he would give for a shower.
All his possessions? Done. One of his toes? In a heartbeat. One of his fingers? Hmmm, he thought. Did he really need his left pinkie?
Unidentified mudlike filth stuck to his cheek, his hair. Wearing only his NYU T- shirt and boxers, the handsome brown-haired college freshman lay on a soiled concrete floor in a very tight space.
An angry industrial hum raged in the vague distance. He was blindfolded, and his hands were cuffed to a pipe behind him. A gag around his mouth was knotted tight against the hollow indentation at the base of his skull.
The indentation was called the foramen magnum, he knew. It was where your spinal cord passed into your skull. Jacob had learned about it in anatomy class a month or so ago. NYU was step one in his lifelong dream to become a doctor. His father had an 1862 edition of Gray's Anatomy in his study, and ever since he was a little kid, Jacob had loved going through it. Kneeling in his father's great padded office chair with his chin in his hands, he'd spend hours poring over the elegant, fascinating sketches, the topography of the human body shaded and named like distant lands, like treasure maps.
Jacob sobbed at the safe, happy memory. A drop of lukewarm water landed on the back of his neck and dripped down his spine. The itch of it was unbearable. He would get sores soon if he wasn't able to stand. Bedsores, staph infection, disease.
The last thing he remembered was leaving Conrad's, an Alphabet City bar that didn't care about fake IDs. After a monstrously long chem lab, he'd been trying to chat up Heli, a stunning Finnish girl from his class. But after his fifth mojito, his tongue was losing speed. He'd called it a night when he noticed she was talking more to the male model of a bartender than to him.
His memory seemed to stop at the point when he stepped outside. How he got from there to here he couldn't recall.
For the billionth time, he tried to come up with a scenario in which everything turned out all right. His favorite was that it was a fraternity thing. A bunch of jocks had mistaken him for some other freshman, and this was a really messed- up hazing incident.
He started weeping. Where were his clothes? Why would somebody take his jeans, his socks and shoes? The scenarios in his head were too black to allow light to enter. He couldn't fool himself. He was in the deepest shit of his young life.
He banged his head on the pipe he was chained to as he heard a sound. It was the distant boom of a door. He felt his heart boom with it. His breath didn't seem to know if it wanted to come in or go out.
He was pretty much convulsing when he made out a jangle interspersed with the steady approach of footsteps. He suddenly thought of the handy-man at his parents' building, the merry jingle of keys that bounced off his thigh. Skinny Mr. Durkin, who always had a tool in his hand. Hope gave him courage. It was a friend, he decided. Somebody who would save him.
"Hppp!" Jacob screamed from behind the gag.
The footsteps stopped. A lock clacked open, and cool air passed over the skin of his face. The gag was pulled off.
"Thank you! Oh, thank you! I don't know what happened. I—"
Jacob's breath blasted out of him as he was hit in the stomach with something tremendously hard. It was a steel-toed boot, and it seemed to knock his stomach clear through his spine.
Oh, God, Jacob thought, his head scraping the stone floor as he dry- heaved in filth. Dear God, please help me.CHAPTER 2
JACOB WAS UNCUFFED and pulled roughly for twenty or so steps and slammed into a hard-backed seat. Light spiked his eyes as his blindfold was sliced away, and his hands were cuffed again behind his back.
He was in a child's school desk in a vast, windowless space. In front of him was an old-fashioned wooden rolling blackboard with nothing written on it. Behind him was a cold presence that lifted the hairs from his neck.
Jacob sobbed silently as a lighter hissed. The faintly spicy scent of tobacco smoke filled the air.
"Good morning, Master Dunning," said a voice behind him.
It was a man's voice. The man sounded perfectly sane, highly educated, in fact. He reminded him of a popular English teacher he'd had at Horace Mann, Mr. Manducci.
Hey, wait. Maybe it was Mr. Manducci. He always did seem a little too, er, friendly with some of the male students. Could this be a kidnapping or something? Jacob's CEO father was extremely wealthy.
Jacob could actually feel the relief emit from his pores. He decided he'd take a kidnapping at this point. Ransom, being released. He was down with that. Please be a kidnapping, he found himself thinking.
"My family has money, sir," Jacob said, carefully trying to keep the terror out of his voice and failing.
"Yes, they do," the man said pleasantly. He could have been the DJ for a classical music station. "That's precisely the problem. They have too much money and too little sense. They own a Mercedes McLaren, a Bentley—oh, and a Prius. How green of them. You can thank their hypocrisy for bringing you here. Unfortunately for you, your father seems to have forgotten his Exodus twenty, verse five: 'For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons.' "
Jacob twitched violently in the hard chair as a stainless-steel pistol barrel softly caressed his right cheek.
"Now I'm going to ask you some questions," his captor said. "Your answers are very, very important. You've heard of pass-fail, haven't you?"
The pistol jabbed hard into Jacob's face, its hammer cocking with a sharp click.
"This test you're about to take is pass-die. Now, question one: What was your nanny's name?"
Who? My nanny? Jacob thought. What the hell was this?
"R-R-Rosa?" Jacob said.
"That's right. Rosa. So far, so good, Master Dunning. Now, what was her last name?"
Oh, shit, Jacob thought. Abando? Abrado? Something. He didn't know. The sweet, silly woman that he had played hide-and-seek with. Who'd fed him after school. Rosa, pressing her warm cheek against his as she helped him blow out the candles on his birthday cake. How could he not know her last name?
"Time's up," the man sang.
"Abrado?" Jacob said.
"Not even close," the man said in disgust. "Her name was Rosalita Chavarria. She was a person, you see. She actually had a first and a last name. Just like you. She was flesh and blood. Just like you. She died last year, you know. A year after your parents fired her because she was becoming forgetful, she went back to her home country. Which leads us to our third question: What was Rosa's home country?"
How the hell had this guy known about Rosa's termination? Who was this? A friend of hers? He didn't sound Hispanic. Again, what was this?
"Nicaragua?" Jacob tried.
"Incorrect again. She was from Honduras. A month after she returned to a one- room shack owned by her sister, she had to go for a hysterectomy. In a substandard hospital outside of Tegucigalpa, she was given a tainted transfusion of blood and contracted HIV. Honduras has the highest concentration of AIDS in the Western Hemisphere. Did you know that? Sure you did.
"Now, question four: What is the average life span in Honduras for an HIV- positive person? I'll give you a hint. It's a hell of a lot less than the fifteen years it is in this country."
Jacob Dunning began to cry.
"I don't know. How would I know? Please."
"That won't do, Jacob," the man said, jamming and twisting the barrel of the gun painfully against his teeth. "Perhaps I'm not making myself clear enough. There'll be no Ivy League A in this class. No tutors. No helpful strategies to maximize your score. You can't cheat, and the results are ultimate. This is a test that you've had your whole life to study for, but I have the feeling you were slacking off. So I'd try to think a little bit harder. HIV-positive life span in Honduras! Answer now!"CHAPTER 3
IT WAS THE Catholic grammar school version of March Madness in Holy Name's gym that Sunday around noon. A deafening chaos of ringing basketballs, screaming cheerleaders, and howling sugar-crazed kids rolling over the laminated hardwood on Heelys rose to the angel-carved rafters.
In addition to the noise, it was overly hot, dusty, and crowded, and I couldn't have been happier.
I found myself where I always do when chaos is present, smack-dab in the middle of it. With a whistle around my neck, I was standing at center court, overseeing layup and passing drills as our JV squad, the Holy Name Bulldogs, warmed up. St. Ann's, our crosstown rival from Third Avenue, was doing the same at the opposite end of the court.
Having one son, Ricky, on the varsity squad and another, Eddie, on the JV, I'd somehow found myself nodding in the affirmative when I was asked by the principal, Sister Sheilah, to replace the JV's coach. At first I'd been reluctant. Hello? Single dad, ten kids? Like I didn't have enough to do? But Sister Sheilah can smell a sucker like me from two miles away.
From ball-handling drills to doing the Xs and Os on the chalkboard to even putting away the folding chairs after the game, I'd actually come to get a kick out of coaching. I don't know if any of my 0-and-6 Bulldogs were NBA-bound, but witnessing them gain confidence in themselves and watching the magic that came from going from a bunch of individuals to a somewhat cohesive team, I guess you could do worse things with a Sunday.
The crowd had become so loud at the tip-off that I almost didn't hear the phone going off at my hip. I didn't recognize the number as work, but that didn't mean much. We rotated weekends on my new squad. Guess whose weekend this was?
"Bennett here," I screamed into it.
"Mike, it's Carol. Carol Fleming."
Damn, I thought, closing my eyes. I knew it. Carol was my new boss. Well, my new boss's boss actually. Her name was Chief Carol Fleming. She was the commanding officer of the NYPD's Special Investigative Division, which would have been a big deal even if she weren't the first woman ever to hold the job.
In January, I'd been rotated out of Manhattan North Homicide to the Major Case Squad under her command. Although I preferred Homicide, I had to admit that Major Case, which investigated high-profile bank robberies, art thefts, and kidnappings, wasn't exactly putting me to sleep.
"What's up, boss?" I said.
"We have a possible kidnapping uptown. You need to see April Dunning at One West Seventy-second Street, apartment ten B. Her son, Jacob, seems to be missing. Jacob's father, Donald Dunning, is founder and CEO of—"
"Latvium and Company, the multinational pharmaceutical company," I finished for her. "I've heard of him."
I'd actually read about him in a Forbes magazine at my kids' dentist's office. Dunning was a billionaire, and one of the mayor's golfing buddies. I could see where this was heading.
"How old is his kid, Jacob?"
"Eighteen," the chief said.
"Eighteen!?" I said. "Jacob's not missing. He's eighteen."
"I know what it sounds like, Mike. Somebody with City Hall juice looking for their probably party-hearty kid. Be that as it may, I still need you to check it out. Get back to me as soon as you can."
I wrote down the time and address on the back of my player list after I hung up. Find somebody else's kid? I thought. I had trouble enough keeping track of my own. I waved over Seamus, who was booing furiously as one of the St. Ann's players hit a three-pointer.
"Putting me in, Coach, are ya?" my wiseass grandfather priest said in his Guinness-thick brogue. "I keep telling ya I still got game."
I shook my head.
"Listen, Monsignor. I need to check on something, hopefully very quickly. Fill in for me until I get back. On second thought, just stand here and don't say or do anything. Please."
"Finally," Seamus said, gleefully snatching the clipboard from me and rolling up the sleeves of his black shirt. "Maybe we'll win one this time."CHAPTER 4
ONE WEST 72nd Street turned out to be the Dakota, the famous Gothic castle-like building where John Lennon had lived before he was shot in front of it. It was also the place where the lady who gives birth to the devil in Rosemary's Baby lived, I remembered cheerfully. The good omens just kept on coming this afternoon.
I passed the building and left my van up around the next corner on Columbus and walked back along 72nd. If in the unlikely case this was a kidnapping, it already could be under surveillance. I definitely did not want to advertise that the family had contacted the police.
I passed through a wrought-iron gate at the Dakota's entrance. Its double-wide arched entry-way was the very spot where Chapman had killed the ex-Beatle, shooting him in the back before he could get into the lobby entrance up a short set of stairs to the right. The building was a popular sightseeing tour stop. Yoko, who still lived here, had to be overjoyed when she saw people looking around for bullet holes.
The heavy brass barred door opened as I reached the top. A portly Asian doorman in a hunter green suit coat and hat stood beside an ALL VISITORS MUST BE ANNOUNCED sign.
"I'm here to see the Dunnings," I said, discreetly showing him my shield.
After I was announced, an elderly hall man appeared and guided me through the lobby. The walls had the richest, darkest mahogany paneling I'd ever seen. A massive ballroom chandelier and brass wall sconces softly lit the intricately detailed ceiling moldings and white travertine marble floor.
The hall man, in turn, passed me off to an elevator man. Upstairs, a diminutive butler waved me in through the open door of 10 B.
Through the nearly double-height French doors, I could see the whole way through the Dunnings' apartment to Central Park. The grand rooms were arrayed in the classic enfilade design, allowing more than one way into each room so guests could avoid the servants. The wood floors, like the paneled walls, were Cuban mahogany. They were laid out in a herringbone pattern with what looked like a black-walnut trim.
A striking black-haired woman came quickly down the long corridor of the apartment. She was wearing a rumpled blue evening dress, and even from a distance, the agony in her fine-boned face was unmistakable. My annoyance at being called in dissipated as my heart went out to her. Even with her elegant clothes and her surroundings, she was just a concerned mom sick with worry.
"Thank God you've come. Detective Bennett, is it?" she said with an English accent. "It's my son, Jacob. Something's happened to him."
"I'm here to help you find him, ma'am," I said as reassuringly as I could while I took out my notebook. "When was the last time you saw or spoke to Jacob?"
"I spoke to him three days ago. Jacob lives at school. At NYU. Hayden Hall, right alongside Washington Square Park. My husband is still down there with my father. They've spoken to his friends, and no one has seen him since Friday. Not his roommate. No one."
Maybe he met a cute girl, I felt like saying to her.
"Not seeing someone for a few days might not necessarily mean something's wrong, Mrs. Dunning. Is there a specific reason why you think something's happened to him?"
"My husband and I had our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary last night at Le Cirque. We'd planned it with Jacob for months. Jacob's grandfather flew in from Bordeaux for the occasion. Jacob would not have missed it. He is our only child. You don't understand how close we are. He would not have missed our special event or the rare chance to see his grandfather."
I was starting to understand her concern. What she was telling me did seem strange.
"Did he say anything to you when you last spoke to him? Anything odd? Someone new he might have met or—"
That's when the phone on the antique sideboard beside her rang. She stared in horror at the caller ID number, then at me as it rang again.
"I don't know that number," she said, raw panic in her voice. "I don't know that number!"
"That's okay," I said, trying to calm her down. I scratched down the number, and let my instincts kick in.
"Listen, April. Look at me. If it's someone involved with Jacob being gone—I don't think it is, but if it is—you need to ask them exactly what you need to do in order to get your son back, okay? And if you can, say that you want to speak to Jacob."
Excerpted from Worst Case by James Patterson, Michael Ledwidge. Copyright © 2013 James Patterson Michael Ledwidge. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Michael Bennett, the lead detective from James Patterson's recent Run For Your Life, is back in this equally fast-paced and absorbing thriller. In Worst Case, Michael Bennett faces another serial killer with a "larger message." While Bennett's last opponent, The Teacher, had sought to punish the rudeness of wealthy New Yorkers, this new killer targets the children of wealthy with a hidden message. As this new criminal holds New York City hostage, Michael Bennett works closely with a beautiful FBI counterpart and Abduction Specialist, Agent Emily Parker. NYC's large resources are at their disposal, but absent demands from the kidnapper/killer, can Bennett and Parker find a way to save innocent, young lives? Worst Case brings back James Patterson's latest detective Michael Bennett and it doesn't disappoint. Michael Bennett is as witty, good humored and sharp as ever. The interaction between Bennett and Agent Emily Parker works well; they're effective partners with some underlying romantic tension. In Worst Case, Patterson delivers another satisfying, action-packed thriller. I look forward to the next installment in the Michael Bennett series. ISBN-10: 0316036226 Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (February 1, 2010), 368 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher.
Price wasn't the only reason I bought the NOOK; however, it was one of them. I liked the idea of getting new books immediately less expensively than buying them. At this price, I could easily go Sam's and buy.
I have been pulled into the world of Mike Bennett because I like the character; however, I am still waiting for his world to become something greater. Now on the third book, portions of the story, whether the foreground or the background, it does not matter, still seem too contrived. The effort has not been put into making this series one which will be long-remembered once it is out of print. For the price of a hardback, I must say that I was very disappointed to see so few words placed on the pages and to realize that Mike is truly at the mercy of money-makers instead of authors. I challenge the writers to do something more for Mike Bennett and for the readership. Prove this critic wrong.
I have read all of Patterson's murder stories. Some better than others, but they are always a quick read. I can never put them down, cannot wait for the conclusion. This one in particular was one of his better ones.
Fast and easy read with nice action flow to the predictable ending. I bought it (too expensive) because I wanted to test-read something easy on my home desktop PC screen. It was better than expected. Over my budget this month already so my next purchase will have to wait. I'll try one of the freebie books this week. Cannot afford a Nook; that's the cost of a year's worth of books.
I am a partial Patterson fan, I say partial because I like most of his books including the partnerships, with the exception of the Ladies Detective Series but I stray from the topic at hand. His new character Bennett, is an engaging and complex one, makes the audio book a fun listen. The audio-reader brings a unique life to the written word, the back story gives you a peak into a history you always want more of. the Main plot is exciting, fast paced in the style we expect from Patterson. In short I liked the audiobook and recommend you slip a disk into your CD player, Computer or download to your MP3 player,you wont' regret it.
This book is excellent. Some of Patterson’s books lately have been only fair, especially the ones written with another author. In “Worst Case” I think the story is very well written and in today’s world of not knowing what to expect, it is very plausible. This book features Detective Michael Bennett of the NYPD, who has been featured in a few other books by James Patterson. Bennett has 10 children, all adopted and of all origins. He has a nanny to take care of this brood when he has to work, which is quite a bit of time. Since his wife had died several years earlier, the children give Michael Bennett quite a problem of balancing his work and his personal life. In this story he is teamed with an FBI agent, Emily Parker, who, while working close with Bennett, has made both of them open their eyes toward each other. Children of rich people disappear, followed by a phone call to the parents. When the police get involved, Bennett and Parker along with their teams, at first the culprit says he does not want any ransom but tells them where the child can be picked up. After leading them on a wild goose chase, the body of the first child is found. This is repeated several times with some variation on the kidnappers method of operation. Since all the parents are rich and very influential the police can’t make a connection as to why certain children are taken and with different variants involved, how do they get to the whys and wherefores? As the police are led in circles, or so it seems, they get no closer to finding this dangerous person. Many other aspects are brought into the story such as parents that think they are above all others, priests that don’t seem to have any connection, and chases, some of which lead no where. The story is good, well written and has a good flow. The last part of the book will have you wondering what this guy is thinking and when it all comes together you will be very surprised.
Once you pick it up, you will NOT put it down!
If you follow Patterson, you won't be disappointed. All the bells and whistles you've become accoustomed to. Was hard to put down.
I agree with the other folks on this. I was gonig to but the series on the Nook but each book was 9.99. I went to the used bookstore and the the first two books of the series for 8.00. I love my Nook but some of the prices are a little unreasonable on older books
When buying a book where do u see the advantage of paying $25 for a discount on the price of the books. Also, why are so many of the books priced so high. I agree eith ghe person who said the could get it from Sam's. The prices make you think about returninb the color nook, canceling trial membersnip snd getting books cheaper from Sam's or this website I know.
Is there a book by James Patterson that does not get your attention? His Michael Bennett series is right up there with Cross! It was very hard to put the book down. I read it in two evenings! You can't go wrong. Pick it up today and put the stress of the world at ease tonight!
I love Micheal Bennett and his 10 kids
It seems lately all of James Patterson books are the same and predictable. As for the previous post how can you read a book one month before it comes out. I'm judging all last year's Patterson's books and the preview from Worst Case.
I still like the Alex Cross series better, but this was a great read
Teenagers of wealthy families are being kidnapped and tested. Failing the test proves to be deadly. Michael Bennett heads the investigation. I love these stories, mostly, because of the ten children Bennett has. They're onry, loving to play tricks on people. Like when the phone rings. The style of Patterson's books is quick and fast. Yet, so much is packed into each read. The characters are well-developed and enjoyable to be around. Looking forward to the next book in this series.
awesome ! had to finish it!
I am really enjoying this series. Michael Bennett is an extremely likable character dealing with the daily ups and downs of being an NYPD Detective and a single parent to ten children. This book shows Michael as potential boyfriend material when he is partnered with an FBI agent on a case of a psychopath who is kidnapping children of wealthy families, only to kill them when they don’t pass the quiz he gives them on humanitarian and social issues. The psychopath has formed a connection to Michael as well as he plays a cat and mouse game with him as Michael and Emily race the clock to find the missing victim and stop the killer before he claims another life. Supporting characters Seamus, Michael’s priest grandfather and Michael’s nanny, Mary Catherine, add depth and warmth to this series. I love this family and get a warm fuzzy seeing the love they all have for one another and how in spite of the horror Michael sees on a daily basis, he manages to remain a normal man, no anger issues or excessive vices. His children and family appear to be grounded and stable and I love the banter sessions between Michael and Seamus. It’s easy to forget that these characters are fictional because they are so well written and come alive in the pages, I feel like I know them personally. The cases he works are intense and suspenseful, but very intriguing and interesting. I am on the edge of my seat wondering how it will all play out, but one thing I know for sure is James Patterson is a master at drawing it out to the last detail and I have been rarely disappointed. I highly recommend this series to fans of mystery, thrillers and police procedurals.
Some of the books are out of my income reach, but maybe someone will be able to get me a book by James Patterson my birthday is just around the corner?? Love and thanks A great great grandmother