Grand Central, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
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Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
is the fourth entry in David Baldacci's
series, starring a ragtag crew of conspiracy theorists led by sixty-ish cemetery caretaker/ex-government assassin John Carr (aka Oliver Stone). Other Camel Club members are librarian Caleb Shaw, Vietnam vet Reuben Rhodes, veteran Secret Service agent Alex Ford, and brilliant con artist Annabelle Conroy (Milton Farb died in the previous episode,
while a younger version of Stone named Harry Finn had a strong role, which continues here).
hat episode also saw Stone shoot down his slippery ex-boss, intelligence czar Carter Gray and corrupt U.S. Senator Roger Simpson, and ended on a cliffhanger as Oliver dived off a thirty-foot cliff into Chesapeake Bay. As
opens, Oliver emerges from the ocean and does his canny best to avoid the nation-wide manhunt that's on his trail, orchestrated and closely managed by former Army General Macklin Hayes, a protégé of Carter Gray. The latter assigns fifty-ish Joe Knox to locate Stone. The latter soon determines that the killings were personal. Knox doesn't trust Macklin, wonders why so much of the case is classified, and knows he must watch his own back
liver gets on a train for New Orleans, but his planned escape is interrupted by his rescue of a young man, being beaten by three thugs. The conductor's suspicions force Stone and Danny Riker to leave the train, and they make their way to Danny's isolated coal-mining home town in Divine, Virginia, which is also the location of a Supermax prison called Dead Rock by the locals. Not planning to stay long, Oliver soon gets embroiled in a surprising amount of violence - which turns out to have sinister roots - for such a small town. He does odd jobs for Danny's mother Abigail, a relationship develops, and he's soon targeted by the local villains.
eanwhile, back in Washington, Camel Club members are being interrogated by the authorities and are often at odds with each other over what course to pursue. Alex Ford, in particular, is torn between his loyalty to Oliver and his duty. Eventually they decide to find their friend themselves and pool their many talents to track him down, at the same time as Joe Knox picks up his trail, his doubts about his role steadily increasing. How is this all resolved? Though often over the top, it's a
style thrill ride to the end, as Baldacci offers his fans his usual great entertainment. He also makes an excellent point about following orders as his hero reminds readers - '
Sheep follow blindly. We're not supposed to be sheep.
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