“I don’t think I’m that lucky”
“Well, I am”
“I’m Irish. We always keep some reserve in the tank.”
Oliver Stone has finally exacted justice for some old wrongs, but he has sacrificed his liberty and identity for the justice. On the run in deepest Virginia, he seems to have been appointed guardian angel to the town of Divine, where a hot-headed youth named Danny keeps getting into trouble. Oliver’s old Camel Club buddies want to help him, but they’ll have to find him first… before Agent Joe Knox of the CIA does.
I’ve never got on as well with Baldacci’s Camel Club series as I did with the three books featuring Sean King and Michelle Maxwell (Split Second, Hour Game and Simple Genius), but they’re still exciting thrillers with a nice mix of conspiracy, espionage, gadgetry and general crookedness.
Baldacci makes all his characters so darn positively flawed, which causes the reader a few issues – all the characters, particularly the Camel Club misfits, have their quirks/foibles/character defects, but we know they all have their hearts in anatomically correct locations. I just don’t like any of them.
Joe Knox is a bit better – he’s an honest agent in a tough spot, working for a jerk, but I take issue with his common sense (or lack thereof). On discovering that Stone is a should-have-been-decorated war hero, he can’t quite decide which master to serve – so he dives in with both feet to sort out the whole mess himself. How can a CIA veteran seriously think that’s a sensible approach?
The town and people of Divine reminded me of the country towns described by Jodi Picoult in her family dramas – a bit forgotten by modern life, beaten-down, a dead end for a teenager; yet mysteriously the scene of Seriously Bad Things. Much like one assumes that the entire population of Midsomer must have been murdered by now, it’s a bit of a stretch to believe that evil people reside in insignificant places. However, the setting fits the purpose, and Baldacci’s not exactly writing to win a Pulitzer prize for his lyrical evocation of Nowhere, USA.
I have read this before, but I didn’t remember any of the Big Twists, and they were all appropriately surprising. And a few people die unexpectedly in the grand finale, of which I rather approve – big ol’ shoot ’em-ups in which only the baddies die are just a bit unbelievable.
7/10 to a good adventure with serious double-crossing and conspiracy, so-so characters and a decent setting.