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review 2017-08-03 00:00
The Hit
The Hit - David Baldacci Q:
...He checked his rearview for Vance, Reel, and assorted bogeymen.
I’m not growing paranoid. I am paranoid. And who could blame me?
(c)
Q:
Her firm core had come from agonizing exercise and careful diet. It had nothing to do with appearance. The core was power central. And fat slowed you down. In her world that was poison
(c)
Q:
There were three ways to approach the mission. For a mission was what Jessica Reel was on.
You could start from the bottom and move to the top.
Or start at the top and move to the bottom.
Or you could mix it up, be unpredictable, go in no particular order.
The first option might be more symbolically pure.
The third approach greatly improved Reel’s odds of success. And her ability to survive.
She opted for success and survival over symbolism.
(c)
Q:
It had been traumatic in ways that even now Reel didn’t fully understand or appreciate. The experience had come to define her, and guaranteed that many normal things people did in life would never be part of hers.
What happened to you as a child, particularly something bad, changed you, absolutely and completely. It was like part of your brain became closed off and refused to mature any further. As an adult you were powerless to fight against it. It was simply who you were until the day you died. There was no “therapy” that could cure it. That wall was built and nothing could tear it down.Maybe that’s why I do what I do. Engineered from childhood.
(c)
Q:
“It’s ancient history. I’m not much into history. I try to be more of a forward thinker.”
“Your compartmentalization skills are amazing, Robie.”
He shrugged. “Necessary part of the job. Hindsight might be twenty-twenty. You learn from mistakes, and you move on. But every situation is different. One size does not fit all.”
“A lot like working cases. So how much longer are you going to be doing what you’re doing?”
“How long are you going to be doing what you’re doing?”
“Probably till I drop.”
“You really think so?”
“I don’t know, Robie. You said you’re a forward thinker. I’m more of a live-in-the-present kind of person. So when are you going to call it quits?”
“I probably won’t be the one making that decision.”
She sat back, took in the meaning of his words, nodded. “Then maybe you should try to make sure you’re the one deciding.”
“Doesn’t go with the territory, Vance.”
They said nothing for about a minute. Each played with the drink in front of them.
Finally Vance asked, “Have you seen Julie?”
“No,” he replied.
“Didn’t you promise her you’d keep in touch?”
“I promised you too and look what happened.”
“But she’s just a kid,” countered Vance.
“That’s right. She has a long life ahead of her.”
“But a promise is a promise.”
“No, not really,” answered Robie. “She doesn’t need me anywhere near her. She’s got a decent shot at a normal life. I’m not going to screw that up for her.”
“Noble of you.”
“Whatever you want to label it.”
“You’re a really hard person to relate to.”
Robie again said nothing.
“I guess as long as you do what you do this is how it’ll be.”
“It is what it is.”
“Do you wish it could be different?”
Robie started to answer this seemingly simple question and then realized it was not nearly as simple as it appeared to be. “I stopped wishing a long time ago, Vance.”
“Why keep doing it, then? I mean, I have a crazy-ass life, though nothing like yours. But at least I have the satisfaction of putting slime away.”
“And you think I don’t?”
“I don’t know. Do you?”
Robie put some cash down on the table and rose. “Thanks for the call. It was nice catching up. And good luck on your case.”
“Do you really mean that?”
“Probably more than you know, actually.”
(c)
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review 2017-07-19 23:01
Recommended to those who enjoy action novels, spy novels, thrillers, and definitely to Baldacci fans.
Zero Day - David Baldacci

Thanks to NetGalley and to the publisher, MacMillan, for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

David Baldacci is one of these authors whose names a reader (and even a non-reader) cannot escape. His books are widely distributed and he always seems to have a volume or two in the bestsellers list (no, not the Amazon one on a little-known genre, but the real thing). Despite all that (or perhaps because of it, as sometimes some names seem so familiar that I feel as if I had already read/watched or whatever it is they do, them before) I had never read any of his books. I saw that coinciding with a book launch, NetGalley was offering a copy of the first book in the John Puller series, and I decided perhaps it was time I read him. (I don’t have any specific opinions on best sellers as such and I don’t necessarily avoid them as a matter of principle but I do prefer to discover them early on, so I can make my own mind up).

The story, narrated in the third person, mostly follows John Puller, a military investigator that is all you probably would wish for in such a character. He has complex family relations (including a genius brother imprisoned for life for treason), he has seen his share of combat and has the medals and the scars to prove them, he is as skilled at fighting as he is at investigating, and although usually he works as part of a team, he can be a one-man-band when required (as is the case here).  There are some moments (like the first chapter) when we follow other characters, but this is for a very good reason, and we, by and far, experience the events from Puller’s perspective. Of course, that does not mean we know everything he knows, because the book hides information at times and that means there are some surprises (the number of surprises might depend on how close your attention and on how many books of the genre you have read).  The story is a combination of a spy story with highly skilled military investigator/hero in charge, and a more standard police procedural, with big secrets, conspiracies, and environmental issues thrown in for good measure. There are hints of a possible romance, but nobody is up to the task, and the time frame is very tight for such developments.

The investigation is very detailed, and we get to know quite a few of the characters in the small West Virginian town of Drake, a coal mining place that has become almost a ghost town due to the environmental and economic consequences of the exploitation and depletion of its resources by the sole industry in the area. Baldacci shares as much loving detail on the way the coal industry works (or at least some far-from-exemplary companies), as he does on everything else: the way the military works, the different roles of the investigating and security agencies and how they interact, the equipment used, the weaponry… This might be too much for some readers, but I am sure it will make others very happy. I did enjoy more the discussions of the environmental issues and the socio-economic effects of the coal-extracting industry than the details about the equipment, but there is plenty of action and intrigue to keep readers of mystery, and also spy novels, entertained.

My favourite character is Sam Cole, the female police officer in charge of the investigation. She has problems of her own and also a difficult relationship with her family, and seems the perfect match for Puller. I would probably have preferred the novel to be about her, but that is not the genre or the focus of it. In many ways, her character is the one that makes us see Puller as something more than a perfect fighting and investigating machine, all professional, and efficient. Yes, he has a cat, some sort of relationships with his father, and an interesting dynamic with his brother, but she is the only person who is not a relative he seems to relate to at a level beyond the casual, and it is not only because it is helpful to his mission.  

I agree with comments that the novel is formulaic in many ways (Puller survives several attempts on his life, has to subvert orders and get inventive to save the day and manages to pull an incredible feat at the end), although as I haven’t read other Baldacci’s books, I cannot comment on how much better or worse Puller is compared to some of his other heroes (Reacher is mentioned often in the reviews, sometimes agreeing he’s as good, others denying it). I imagine once you have such a following as an author, you know what your public wants and expects, so it is perhaps disingenuous to accuse him of writing to a formula. It is not a genre I read often, and I prefer something more distinctive, less heroic, and with a bit of humour.

The book is well paced, the writing supports the story rather than calling attention to itself (as I said, some readers might find there is too much detail, but I doubt his fans will, and after reading the acknowledgements, it is clear that he is well-informed and has had access to first-hand information not many would have), and if you like lone heroes with a conscience, John Puller makes a pretty decent one. Recommended to those who enjoy action novels, spy novels, thrillers, and definitely to Baldacci fans. I am not sure I’d say I’ve become one of them, but I might try another one of his stories at some point.

 

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review 2017-06-19 02:18
NO MAN'S LAND by David Baldacci
No Man's Land (John Puller Series) - David Baldacci
NO MAN'S LAND
David Baldacci
Paperback, 464 pages
Published March 21st 2017 by Grand Central Publishing (first published November 15th 2016)
ISBN  1455586501 (ISBN13: 9781455586509)
 
  I enjoy David Baldacci's writing. There was a little predictability in the storyline. The plot starts off actually with 2 men, each in his own subplot, until midway through when the plots cross. I liked most of the characters, with the exception of Knox, who I felt didn't quite measure up for me. She seemed too "soft" for who I felt the character should be. Overall, though, I feel Baldacci fans will be happy with this book.

****I received this book thru a Goodread's giveaway from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.****
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review 2017-05-20 06:47
A Serial Killer Impressionist
Hour Game - Ron McLarty,David Baldacci

Whoops -- it's been two and a half years since I read the first volume in the series -- I really meant to get back to it sooner. Oh well, better late than etc., etc. I don't have much to say about this, but I have a few thoughts.

 

This picks up a few months after Split Second, the partnership between King and Maxwell has solidified, they've had some success and have settled into their lives. They're doing some work for a local attorney assisting him defend an accused burglar, when they're asked to help the local police investigate a murder that resembles a famous serial killer. Soon afterwards, other bodies show up -- each following a different serial killer's M. O. to keep the authorities guessing.

 

Soon, King and Maxwell are officially involved -- as are the national media and the FBI. Naturally, the two cases intertwine -- as does another mystery.

 

The mysteries were pretty easy to guess, but how Baldacci resolved them wasn't -- which was nice. The character moments were okay, actually -- the characters were the best part of this book, not just our leads, but pretty much everyone who wasn't killed within a page or two of being introduced.

 

Will you hold it against me if I admit it wasn't until as I was writing this that I figured out what the title referred to? I really hadn't thought about it, but I really shouldn't have had to.

 

I liked this more than the last Scott Brick audiobook I listened to -- which wasn't bad. His accent work was good (have heard him do better), and he made the characters come to life -- even giving a couple of characters I could live without enough of a hook that I probably liked them more in audio than I would've if I read it.

 

Hour Game was well constructed, well paced, and kept me engaged and entertained -- an improvement over the first one, too. Can't ask for much more than that.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/05/19/hour-game-audiobook-by-david-baldacci-scott-brick
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review 2017-05-19 03:14
Great mystery read for vacation!
The Fix - David Baldacci

The Fix, David Baldacci, author; Kyf Brewer, Orlagh Cassidy, narrators

Amos Decker is a detective extraordinaire! His demeanor is sometimes caustic and abrasive, but he is always honest, perhaps to a fault. His ability is exceptional because of a football injury which gave him special abilities. He cannot forget anything he experiences, and he sees people in various hues, as in navy blue denoting death. He is still recovering from the tragic deaths of his wife and child, Cassie and Molly, almost two years before, and because of his unique abilities, the memory is always with him and does not diminish.

When he witnesses the murder of a woman by a man who is engaged in government work, requiring several clearances, by a man who was about to attend a meeting at the J. Edgar Hoover Building, which was the headquarters of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), he becomes embroiled in the investigation into her death and the murderer’s suicide. Working with a colorful cast of characters, Alex Jamison, his partner and Harper Brown of the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), who also just happens to take a liking to Melvin Mars, Decker’s friend who had been wrongfully imprisoned for two decades, and who has been in other books in the Decker series, the story really takes flight.

Who was Walter Dabney, the murderer? What was his motive for killing Anne Berkshire? Who was she?  Her past appears to be hidden. All they know about her is that she volunteers at a hospice reading to a dying young boy, among others, and also is a substitute teacher. She is a complicated character who seems to be living two lives, but one of them is unknown. Dabney is a successful business man whose family claims to have no knowledge of Berkshire, but as the family’s history and the woman’s past are both exposed, it soon becomes clear that this won’t be an easy mystery to solve. Has Dabney been living a double life as well? Before the enemies of democracy can stage a symbolic, tragic event which will affect the major powers of the world, Decker and the others engaged in the investigation must find a way to prevent it.

As the story develops, there are light and humorous touches as well as romantic moments mixed in with the moments of extreme danger. The narrators were excellent. They read the story without becoming the story; they read with expression, but never over emoted. The characters were really well developed so that there was a picture of each in my mind. It is a book that will appeal to a variety of readers, especially those on vacation or traveling. It is a great book to listen to while driving because it is very engaging as secrets are revealed and an espionage ring is uncovered. While it is interesting, it is not distracting.

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