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The new book from David Baldacci "Zero Day" introduces us to a new hero, John Puller. Like in his other books David Baldacci the plot develops quickly and makes you root and care for the hero. He is a army Special Agent who prefers field work to advancement in the military ranks. He is called to investigate a case in rural area in West Virginia, and unravels a conspiracy that reaches well beyond the borders of West Virginia borders. The plot is fast-moving, enjoyable, and unpredictable. Just when you think you know what is happening Baldacci takes the story in a new direction.

I got this book on a vacation day when I was supposed to do a slew of errands... however, I could not put the book down and wound up reading the book all day turning my chore day into a fantastic trip into imagination and adventure.

The book ends in a way that makes you think we will be seeing this hero again, and I am looking forward to it.

Ali Julia review
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P.S.

I "discovered" David Baldacci only about a year ago. My plan is to read all David Baldacci books, so I put this list together with all the books and which series they belong to, I hope someone else will find this list useful as well.

David Baldacci book by publication year

Absolute Power (1996)
Total Control (1996)
Winner, the (1997)
Saving Faith (1999)
Simple Truth, the (1999)
Wish You Well (2000)
Last Man Standing (2002)
Christmas Train, the (2002)
Split Second (2003) King&Maxwell series
Hour Game (2004) King&Maxwell series
Camel Club, the (2005) Camel Club series
Fries Alive! (2005)
Collectors, the (2006) Camel Club series
Mystery of Silas Finklebean, the (2006)
Simple Genius (2007) King&Maxwell series
Stone Cold (2008) Camel Club series
Divine Justice (2008) Camel Club series
Whole truth (2008) Shaw&James series
First Family (2009) King&Maxwell series
True Blue (2009)
Hell's Corner (2010) Camel Club series
Deliver us from eval (2010) King&Maxwell series
The Sixth Man (2011 King&Maxwell series
One Summer (2011)
Zero Day (2011)

Baldacci books by series

Sean King and Michelle Maxwell
1 : Split Second (2003) by David Baldacci
2 : Hour Game (2004) by David Baldacci
3 : Simple Genius (2007) by David Baldacci
4 : First Family (2009) by David Baldacci
5 : The Sixth Man (2011) by David Baldacci

Camel Club
1 : Camel Club, the (2005) by David Baldacci
2 : Collectors, the (2006) by David Baldacci
3 : Stone Cold (2008) by David Baldacci
4 : Divine Justice (2008) by David Baldacci
5 : Hell's corner (2010) by David Baldacci

John Puller
1 : Zero Day (2011)

Shaw & James
1 : Whole Truth, the (2008)
2 : Deliver us from evil (2010)

Freddy and the French Fries (Fiction' Children & Young Adult' Humorous Fiction)
Fries Alive! (2005) by David Baldacci
Mystery of Silas Finklebean, the (2006) by David Baldacci
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on November 1, 2011
Baldacci has long been a must read for me. This book is him at his best. The writing is crisp and you are hooked from page one. John Puller is a Army CID - called into investigate a brutal family killing in rural West Virginia. The father is a Defense Intelligence Agency high ranking colonel about to transition to civilian life. Puller questions his solo assignment to the highly sensitive case. He is also saddled with a father who is a living (though retired) Army legend and a brother serving life for treason.

Along the way he partners with a local police detective - female detective Samantha Cole.

Baldacci gives enough background to promote interest without bogging down the story. And just as you think you have it ... the story takes a sharp left. Concisely written police procedural wrapped around a compelling story.
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on November 3, 2011
I just don't buy into the Lee Child - Jack Reacher clone idea. If I wrote the book, sure, call your lawyer, Lee - I'm not creative enough to think of such a good plot. But Baldacci made his bones a LONG time ago. He has a long track record of superior writing. Every now and then, there will be some plot overlap within genres, and thrillers are no exception.

Zero Day is written with all of Baldacci's usual skill and perhaps even a little bit more energetic dialogue.

The novel is set in the coal fields of West Virginia. That's my home. And so I look at this with an unusually critical eye for accuracy as will was for perceptions of disrespect - Believe me, West Virginians are REALLY touchy.

I hit the annoyance button on both accuracy and respect, but I'm not sure if that's fair. If I read something set in, say, Washington State, I won't know what's true and what's not, because I've never been there. That doesn't keep me from enjoying the book.

Coal mining is a background theme of Zero Day. The health effects of mining are made up from whole cloth. For instance, there's no explosion of childhood cancer rates around coal mining. This not say that coal mining is good for you - the effects are simply more subtle and some would say more insidious. Baldacci suggests that surface mining does not take place because of extraction costs but because it uses fewer workers. That one is just a head-scratcher - it's all about money. And Baldacci seems to think that it's hard to find coal. Nope, not even. It's not like the old oil and gas wildcatter days when the developer took a chance on a dry hole. Coal seams are very well know, and the development work is about the details of extraction.

And Zero Day's portrayal of West Virginia is, well, fictional. "Moonshine stills" are not a significant law enforcement problem. There are no little mountain lions hopping about in the woods. What I took the most umbrage to was dialogue by a minor character who was removing personal property from the home of someone who had just died: "A lot of folks around here ain't got nothing. They find out you died and ain't got no relations, your stuff's gone before you know it." If I say that about the character of the people in your neighborhood, I'm hoping that you would be peeved. That may happen here, as elsewhere, but it certainly isn't a cultural trait or a common practice.

But to apply my own rubric, there's nothing that takes Zero Day below five stars. It's plot, characters and action are every bit on a par with Baldacci's prior works.

But, Jeez, Dave, next time pick on Ohio or New York, OK?
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on November 8, 2011
I just read this book about 30 days ago, except it was written by Lee Child. His latest just released Reacher novel, titled "The Affair". I thought the reviewers were mistaken about Balducci's "Zero Day" being a knockoff...but they weren't! Unfortunately, I pre-ordered Zero Day without looking into it.

Pretty much the same lead character, a military killing, a small southern town, understaffed investigation, and a local female sheriff to partner with. The only thing different were the bad guys, and their evil ways.

So it didn't do much for me, as I just read the Child book first. Had I not, it would have been just an OK read.

For the military-lawyer/investigator genre, my hands down favorite author is Brian Haig, and his six Sean Drummond novels.
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on November 22, 2011
If you are a Baldacci fan who enjoyed "Absolute Power" and the Camel Club series, wait for another book. This one was a huge disappointment. The main character, Puller, is a thinly disguised imitation of Lee Child's hero, Jack Reacher. The dialogue is cliched and unrealistic. The plot is predictable and boring. A few times, the author slipped from the POV of the main character to that of a supporting character, Cole, the local female sheriff. I sensed within the first few pages that this was going to be a miss, but I'd paid 12 bucks (the kindle version) and tried valiantly to get my money's worth.

The book adds weight to a conspiracy theory that someone else is ghost-writing Baldacci's work. Try comparing the writing of "Absolute Power" or one of the Camel Club books with this one or "Simple Genius", another flop, and you'll see what I mean. Or better yet, spend your hard-earned bucks on Lee Child's latest and get your money's worth.
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on December 24, 2011
I have read most of Baldacci's books and generally enjoyed them, but I think he lost his touch on this one. The story telling is good: I enjoyed the characters and their relationships, but the plot is preposterous and totally implausable. The hero is John Puller, a bright, solitary, military investigator, who as a Special Forces veteran of Middle East wars has developed unbelievably (and I do mean unbelievable) superhuman skills in defending himself. (At one point he dispatches a bad guy by slicing him open with an iPod sharpened to a razor edge. Has Baldacci every looked at an IPod? Give us a break.) His sidekick for this novel is a bright, competent small-town police woman, Samantha Cole, and their relationship is interesting and respectful. While I credit Baldacci for giving competent females a major role, the fact remains that the woman contributes little to solving the mystery or dealing with the bad guys. The relationships between Puller and his dysfunctional family and Cole and her dysfunctional family are interesting but not well developed. Puller's brother, a nuclear scientist, is in military prison for treason, but we never understand any of that backstory. His father, a renowned Army General, is suffering from dementia, but the reasons for the the nature of the father-son relationship are not explained.

The plot and the elements of the story leave much to be desired because they are so implausable. For example, the bad guys make several efforts to kill Puller, twice attempting to blow him up with various kinds of bombs. They choose these complicated (and and, of course, unsuccessful) approaches when they could easily have shot him from long range, as they do with one of the other characters. One of the bad guys, when captured, kills himself, presumably to avoid being questioned, but that decision is totally implausible given the circumstances. A more serious defect is that we don't really understand what the threat is that Puller is trying to deal with until virtually the end of the book. Little is revealed along the way to help us guess what it might be. When it is revealed, it's just not believable. There is no logical reason for the bad guys to be doing what they are doing. They threaten the very existence of a large part of West Virginia when there is no motive for them to do so. They could have covered their tracks in much easier ways. What is ultimately very dissatisfying is that the explanation for all of what has happened, the solution to the mystery, occurs in a final confrontation between the hero and the chief bad guy. The villain (who pretty much comes out of nowhere) intends to kill Puller, but before he does so, he helpfully explains what he did and why he did it in great detail. So the plot is revealed in this last-minute conversation. Not good story telling.

If you choose to read this book, don't expect a good plot or a satisfying ending. Read to enjoy the journey rather than to reach the destination.
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on December 18, 2011
I generally enjoy David Baldacci's novels, and got this book out of my local bookstore, but after reading part of it I just gave up, it was so bad. I wish I could have given it a "zero" rating, as "1" is too high a rating for it! This is an insipid attempt to copy Lee Child's excellent novels with his hero Jack Reacher. Puller is a pale immitation of Reacher and wouldn't last 15 seconds with him in a head-to-head brawl. In the same vein, Lee Child obliterates (writing wise) Baldacci on a straight comparison between the two novels. Result: KO of Baldacci by Child, no contest. It's a shame that a good writer like David Baldacci has stooped so low as to plagerise another author's "theme" as he seems to have completely run out of ideas! Shame on him for writing, if he did, such drivel? What a waste of money! I should have waited for our public library to get it, and at least I would not have wasted my hard-earned money on such trash! Ah!, well I can at least give it to our Church Christmas sale, at least they might get a few bucks for it!
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on April 11, 2014
How else can you explain the total lack of personality? Or the fact that he's an expert in everything he does: shoots double pistols perfectly, knows advanced medical care, was a green beret in multiple battles, but also a crack crime scene investigator AND also a detective?

A third of the way into the book, you're rooting for something bad to happen to Puller just to prove that he's human. Of course nothing happens, which just confirms that he is in fact a cyborg. And like all cyborgs he repeats himself constantly. For Puller it's a continuous mantra of how great the Army is, how great his Army training is, how everyone would be better if they had been in the Army, etc, etc, until you find yourself inexplicably picking up the phone to call your local Army recruiter.

Did I mention the completely ridiculous plot line the reader is expected choke down? Or maybe I just didn't realize that when a quarter of the country is facing annihilation you only need to send ONE agent to investigate, formulate, adjudicate, exterminate, and eliminate the threat. As long as that ONE is Super Army Agent Cyborg John Puller!

An excellent read if you're a 7th grader.
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on April 29, 2012
Some reviewers are criticizing the author for creating a character they feel mimics Jack Reacher. I read every Jack Reacher novel as soon as it comes out, but I would never give one a five, as entertaining as they are. There are always things that bother me about Reacher. In one novel, he doesn't change clothes in a hot climate for five days. Now, I know I'm not supposed to notice or worry about that but I do notice because the author makes a point of always reminding me that Reacher buys clothes--occasionally--instead of carrying any with him. He does occasionally wash some of them but not enough for me to not think about how he must stink much of the time. That pulls me out of the story, and then I start thinking about how unbelievable some of it is. That's a four, at best.

John Puller is a more complex, believable Reacher, if some readers insist on a comparison. He has a strong appreciation of family and tries to preserve his own, hard as it is. He appreciates the discipline the Army has taught him, including taking pride in himself, which fosters paying attention to his clothing. He is a patriot who understands that, while he believes in the U.S. Army and the United States, his eyes are wide open to the weakness, corruption, blind ambition, intransigence and just plain wrong-headedness of individual Army officers and government officials. That's why he refuses promotions and stays where he can do the job he knows he is best suited for: solving crimes against the citizens of the United States.

John Puller is a character I hope Mr. Baldacci will make a prominent part of his literary family.
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on May 27, 2014
I came late to this book, so obviously, with over 1,000 reviews already written, I'm hardly going to discuss the plot or the fact that no matter how much I think I can project the ending, Baldacci ALWAYS surprises me. No. What I am going to discuss in this review is John Puller, the "new" hero (I know he's in another book now, which I have just ordered!) from this author.

What I love most about Baldacci is that his heroes/heroines are honorable, good people. They are flawed, sometimes heavily flawed. They make mistakes. They second-guess themselves. They aren't always right, which makes them so believable. I fell in love with John Puller almost immediately. He has a strong set of morals, he has integrity, he has skills that make one's heart stop--but above all, he is still human. He can hurt. He can love fiercely and loyally. He has nightmares. He has doubts. And yet through it all, he is the kind of superhero that we all wish we knew.

I wasn't sure until the last page that Puller would survive this adventure, and I certainly did not expect the emotional twists and turns that came my way. Baldacci is so subtly skilled at weaving a plot that even people like me, who do not usually gravitate to "army superhero" types, become riveted.

I LOVED this book, and hope that Puller remains in Baldacci's lexicon.
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