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Bookends: This caper depends on following the money January 28, 2016

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: This caper depends on following the money

By Dan Davidson

August 5, 2015

– 880 words –


King and Maxwell

By David BaldacciKing and Maxwell

576 pagesGrand Central Publishing

Hachette Audio edition

Unabridged reading

Narrated By Ron McLarty and Orlagn Cassidy Orlagn Cassidy

12 hrs and 56 mins



This is number six in Baldacci’s King and Maxwell series, yet it is, oddly enough, the first to have only that as the book title. Perhaps this is a result of the short-lived television series that put faces on the characters. In the introduction, the author says he felt those actors really captured the characters as he had imagined them.

Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are both former Secret Service agents who have set up a private detectives. King is the older of the two by a few years, has been married before and is a bit of a neatness freak.

Maxwell is messy. Her desk is a disaster and the back seat of her crew cab truck is a landfill. Frequent references are made to the disparity between the two of them. They the odd couple of the detective world.

King, who is also a former lawyer, is a meticulous planner, thinks on both sides of all issues and acts when he feels he has as much as possible figured out.

Maxwell is impetuous, acts before thinking, drives like a NASCAR racer. She’s also a former Olympian athlete and much more physical than her partner. She was gravely injured during their last case, and is still in recovery.

They are immensely fond of each other, in love probably, but they tiptoe around the line between business and friendship. They did cross it once, apparently, and have never felt right about it since.

And yet. Maxwell shows all the signs of being a jealous lover when this case causes them to cross paths with King’s ex-wife, Dana, who is a walking man trap. She just can’t believe that King’s only interest in her at this point in professional.

Perhaps it isn’t entirely. King feels a keen sense of personal responsibility when Dana is shot and nearly killed while using her connections in the military (her second husband is a general) to get some information for the detectives.

There are a couple of distinct narratives going on here. We actually start in the Middle East, where a soldier named Sam Wingo is hauling a very precious cargo to a carefully planned destination. His operation goes sideways when he is met by men claiming to work for the CIA, who tell him the plans have been changed. He escapes from them, but loses the cargo, which is a whole lot of money in Euro bills. Back home he is held responsible for it, and has to go to ground to try and find out what really happened. His adventures while getting back to the States form interludes in the main story.

When his high school age son, Tyler, is told that his father is dead, missing in action, he is devastated and runs off into the night, which is where our detectives almost run him over in the middle of a pounding rainstorm.

It turns out, just a bit later on, that Tyler has received a coded email message from his father with a time and date stamp well after the day he was supposed to have died. Tyler decides to hire King and Maxwell to find out what is really going on.

Almost as soon as they take the case, weird things start happening. Homeland Security comes down on them like a ton of bricks. The FBI suddenly takes an interest in their doings. They start spending time in interrogation rooms being questioned and threatened, but no charges are ever laid.

Aside from officialdom, they find themselves the targets of a hit squad made up of former military types who do not hesitate to unload on them in a mall food court, killing a mall cop, and wounding another, along with King’s ex, who was meeting with them at the time.

In a third strand of the narrative, we spend time with the mysterious mastermind behind all this, who has very personal reasons and goals what has nevertheless become an operation with international ramifications.

There are many twists and turns in this tale, a number of shoot-outs and no end of complex skullduggery.

The use of two readers is a nice touch. Ron McLarty handles the main narration and all the male voices, of course. There are a good half dozen of those, from older military types all the way back to Tyler Wingo. There is also a former client of theirs named Edgar Roy, whose computer and code breaking skills are instrumental in solving the case.

Orlagn Cassidy provides the voices for all the women. Again, this ranges from the hard edged Maxwell to lascivious Dana, several other wives, Tyler’s stepmother and his high school sweetheart.

As there is a lot of conversation in this book, having two readers was a good plan and both of them have a lot of work to do.

This was a great book to listen to on a recent road trip. I had read several of Baldacci’s Camel Club mysteries, but this series has a different flavour.





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