Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Sixth Man - David Baldacci

David Baldacci. He's so prolific a writer! And I had never read one of his books until a house-bound friend of mine pushed this title at me, saying, " This is the perfect book for a rainy week, Susan! You can stay in bed and read 'til you want to get up." Sounded like sound advice to me!

The thunderstorms that have passed through and rainy days have given me time to put my feet up and soak up the storyline that Baldacci delivers. In this case, his private investigators , Sean King and Michelle Maxwell happen into the world of international surveillance, national security, private sector security development, data analyses and counter-terrorism, and secrecy within government agencies ... well, THAT seems a timely topic for journalists AND novelists.

Ex-Secret Service agents, King and Maxwell are hired to meet with an ex-law professor of King's to confer on a tough homicide defense case. Off they go to an isolated federal detention center in rural Maine to meet the lawyer and his client. In the backwoods of Maine, on a desolate road, they happen upon what looks like a disabled driver who has pulled to the side of the road. Uh- ohhhh ... turns out it's the law professor. Turns out he's had a bullet put between his eyes. Turns out this case investigating strange goings on concerning an alleged serial killer who has 'clammed up' may be more than meets the eye. Turns out this is the first in a series of strange deaths, close calls, infuriating encounters with government wonks, and more double dealing and odd connections than you can shake a stick at. Heck, the confusing use of government acronyms is enough to make me take notes so I can keep things straight! The story, though, is intriguing enough to make me keep turning the pages.

I have always been encouraged to pick up Baldacci's books by my brother. He's a reader of intrigue from wayyy back. I've always resisted because of my squeamish stomach and my love for the more staid genre of historical fiction, but I must admit that while trying to expand my reading variety I have found a winner here. I like the chemistry between the two PI's. I like that their dialogue is quick, snappy and true to how good friends yack about things. It smacks of an old Bogart flick, but I like that. I like the pace of the story and I like that Baldacci is good about using characters' inner dialogue to explain political and security issues from a couple different perspectives.

I'm a newbie to Baldacci's work, but I sense that these two main characters have been central to other books that he's written. That would explain how well their personalities are developed, their tight dialogue and the 'backstory' comments that work their way into things. I may have to test my intuition by picking up some of his other titles to see if he continues to hold my interest. Like Dan Brown, he's got a way with a fast-paced intricate plot line. No wonder he's so wildly popular with the reading public.

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