A Minute to Midnight, David Balducci, author; Brittany Pressley and Kyf Brewer, narrators.
Female FBI agent Atlee Pine has suffered a setback in her career because of an overreaction when she caught a pedophile with a young girl. Although she rescued the girl, she also beat the pedophile to a pulp. Her superior understood her reaction, and he did not discipline her, but instead, he gave her the opportunity to use some time off to reconcile her emotional issues concerning her twin sister’s disappearance. She set out to find out what she could about the crime that had occurred more than two decades ago, when her sister Mercy had been kidnapped. She and Mercy were six years old at the time. Atlee was left for dead with a fractured skull. Her sister was never found. Her parents were devastated, and her father was accused of the crime. Eventually, her parents left town in secret.
As years passed, Atlee was never told the truth about her background, although she did not realize it until this investigation. She knew that her father killed himself on her birthday and that her mother abandoned her when she was in college, leaving her enough money to finish her education. However, she discovered that the rest of her life was a fiction. She was never able to find her mom or discover the truth about her sister’s disappearance, either. Now she hoped to at least find out something about Mercy.
When she returns to her home town, with her assistant, Carol Blum, she discovers that her mother and father had different names and a past she had not known. While she searches for answers about her sister’s fate, additional murders take place around her. She assists in the investigation and pretty much takes it over. She wonders if there is a serial killer on the loose? Are the murders related to her return? Has everyone told her the whole story about her family, or are they holding back facts? Somehow, in bits and pieces she realizes that she knows little about herself or anything else, and she places herself in great danger.
Atlee acts as if she is superior to everyone else, and she often has a chip on her shoulder. Her responses to others are authoritarian, abrupt and sarcastic. I did not find her very likeable. Sometimes she actually seemed to be endowed with supernatural capabilities, almost like a superhero, surviving situations that should have killed her. The author seemed to want to stress the fact that women are at least as capable, if not more so, than men in similar situations.
The author would not have written such trite dialogue between men, as he did between the women in the book. It was often glib and pointless. I found the book disappointing. I thought that the narrator over emoted, and her interpretation of the characters made me dislike most of them. Although Atlee’s insights were often spot on, and she was very fit and strong, I found her to be ruled by emotions not brains. She is painted as the sharpest knife in the drawer, the brightest bulb in the box, the genius who somehow instinctively solves all problems. However, the novel feels like it is chick lit at best, filled with trite platitudes and hackneyed conversations, not up to the standards of this author.
I won’t be listening to the next book they indicated is coming in this series and was disappointed that the book left me hanging without Atlee solving the mystery of her sister or her mother’s location. While the book tackles civil rights, women’s rights, sex trafficking, drugs, porn, and other crimes high on the liberal list of causes, it seemed to do so in a trivial manner to me. It was almost as if the author did it for the sake of his liberal leanings. I would not recommend this book to others. It held my interest, but only because I thought it would get better. It really didn't improve.