None of my friends have reviewed this book. Friends, this is your fault. I hold you all responsible. As well as my mother’s eighty-five year-old friend who loaned her this book. It just goes to show you that even elderly ladies can’t be trusted, particularly ones with brain cancer. Just sayin’.
A moderately readable beginning that careened between two ex-Secret Service Agents running a detective agency and the adventures of a lone soldier on a critical mission in the Middle East. Son running away after he is officially notified that his father is dead hires the detective team; father goes AWOL to solve who framed him. Canned dialogue, but vaguely likeable characters and an interesting set-up. I found myself extremely intrigued by the parallel story of the soldier/father making his way through the desert country, and less interested in the push-pull of the dynamic between the investigators, the teen and the government officials.
Inspiration always hits at just the right time (a man crossing the street! a car coming by with a familiar face! a conveniently married ex-wife!), aided by the almost literal deux ex machina of an autistic computer whiz who can obtain all information anywhere, conveniently working for Department of Homeland Security. The situation becomes ever more unbearable with a somewhat forced analogy to the Iran-Contra affair and a psychopath bent on revenge. Somewhat unhelpfully, Baldacci channels wikipedia so he can explain Iran-Contra all the readers under thirty just what that was, as well as all the readers older than thirty who forgot that was even a big deal (Reagan was perfect! so says the hazy fog of conservative memory).
Characters were straight from Central Casting: rugged older gentleman; the younger, daredevil female partner; a mopey teenager; the unquestioning, betrayed soldier; the Agency man who is just following orders; the psychopath bent on revenge. Nothing makes sense beyond the surface description, so when they act inconsistently, it is uncomfortably clear that it is in service to the plot, not out of character creation.
I started skimming large swaths (view spoiler), although I returned for the end. I felt strangely like I had watched Speed, The Bourne Ultimatum, and In the Line of Fire. Apparently this was a single-season TNT tv show, and I can absolutely see tv on every page of the book. Action escalates to ridiculously implausible degrees, culminating in the absolute silliest of scenes, which is then topped–ala Speed–by an even more ridiculous capstone which made the minimal character development earlier almost meaningless.
Read it friends. It’s really, really good. I would even go so far to say that it is the thriller version of A Discovery of Witches.