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King and Maxwell (King & Maxwell) Mass Market Paperback – July 29, 2014
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About the Author
David Baldacci is a global #1 bestselling author, and one of the world's favorite storytellers. His books are published in over 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with over 130 million worldwide sales. His works have been adapted for both feature film and television. David Baldacci is also the cofounder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America. Still a resident of his native Virginia, he invites you to visit him at DavidBaldacci.com and his foundation at WishYouWellFoundation.org.
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King and Maxwell are driving through a storm when they nearly hit a teenage boy, Tyler Wingo, wandering the highway in the dark. They find that he has fled his nearby home after hearing that his father has been killed in Afghanistan. When they take him home it is clear that Tyler is on his own as there is no love lost with his stepmother.
Next day Tyler contacts them directly and hires them to find out more about his father's death. He tells them he is concerned because he has been told by the Army that there will be no casket as his father's remains are not recognisable. What Tyler doesn't tell them is that he has received a carefully worded email with a coded message from his father - sent after the time he was said to have been killed.
King and Maxwell start to uncover an international incident that begins with the loss of an unknown cargo of 4,800 lbs (what could this be?) in a remote part of Afghanistan and the disappearance of Tyler's father. They discover a cover-up that implicates the Pentagon and even higher and become part of a chase to find Tyler's father, uncover the truth and the conspirators. The chase will put their lives at risk many times and claim many lives before it ends in a deadly showdown .
In this book Baldacci explores the special relationship between Sean and Michelle, and Sean's reaction when she was in hospital with serious gunshot wounds from their last adventure. This time Baldacci also introduces us to Sean's ex-wife Dana, in a more than cameo role as the wife of a 2 star General at the Pentagon. He explores Sean and Dana's past life and their relationship when they meet again.
One of David Baldacci's great strengths is his ability to create and ring the changes between a number of compelling characters (including The Camel Club, John Puller, and my recent favourite, Will Robie). It is great to see the return of King and Maxwell after a break of a couple of years. Their adventures with the Secret Service and as private investigators have been some of Baldacci's most successful thrillers over the last 10 years.
PS. I was browsing next year's pre-orders on Amazon recently and was excited to find that Will Robie (recently featured in "The Hit") will be back at the end of April 2014 in The Target.
As to comments on the story itself, I'll avoid spoilers (sorry if this makes some statements a bit vague)...
As to the book, I found it to be a pretty interesting story. The plot itself is fairly involved and fairly complex, a bit convoluted as well. The end result of the of the plot is, unfortunately, far too possible. The means by which the plot is set in motion and enacted is a bit of a stretch. I tend to dislike stories that require somewhat random chance for the characters to be able to accomplish what they are trying to do. In this case, the ability of the villain to put his plot in motion requires some coincidence in the right conditions being put in place and him knowing about it. However, at least, by the end, he acknowledges that he wouldn't have been able to take the actions he took, if he hadn't come across the situation set up by others.
In another case, our heroes indirectly reach out to a contact at the pentagon who just happens to have and be able to share information about a top secret operation that is ongoing. Right. The pentagon is too big and not everyone there (even the higher ups) will know about every classified operation. So I had a problem for a while. However, I must admit that this is also addressed late in the book. So Baldacci is aware of these issues and does address them.
I found myself enjoying the interplay between the characters. Though I did get tired of the constant references to how Maxwell's truck is so messy. This was a point that was made far too frequently. At the same time, I felt like their investigative prowess was underplayed. These two were Secret Service agents. They are body guards, yes, but also investigative agents, but those skills were not played up as much as I would have liked.
Much like the other Baldacci books I've read, the book itself is very approachable. The story moves along at a decent pace, and continues to drive forward. As a reader, you get enough information to keep you intrigued and interested.
All in all, a decent story with a lot of good, but some weaknesses.
"It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense."
Frankly, sending one man across the hundreds of miles of hostile territory with a cargo worth over a billion dollars seems beyond far fetched. You know it's so unrealistic that you could imagine our government giving it a try, that is if they haven't already.
The ludicrousity (not sure that's a word) not withstanding, I enjoyed the story. It was a fast paced, action packed read that kept the momentum going until the last few chapter, where it seem a little anticlimactic.
Not as good as Baldacci's earlier novels but still an entertaining read.