Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Review: The Sixth Man by David Baldacci

The Sixth Man is the second book that David Baldacci brings out in just six months, while a new one is yet to follow in June. The good writer seems to be in a very creative mood these days as he has his best characters taking decisive action against corrupt officers of the state and the like time and again. A Baldacci novel without a conspiracy theory is hard to find, but that’s exactly his strong point so there’s no reason to think twice about using it.
     Conspiracy theories abound in The Sixth Man, which sees private investigators Sean King and Michelle Maxwell return to action. The two of them, as you probably already know, have a unique ability in finding themselves at the wrong place, at exactly the wrong moment. As a result they just seem to spend their lives wandering from one place to the next, from one dangerous situation to another. However, things have changed, as they are now an “item”, which means they have to think twice before throwing themselves in the line of fire. They have to be cautious and they are trying to be, but sooner or later things are bound to get out of hand and then what? That is the question that finds its way into their souls? Then what? For how long how can they go on living like this? All of a sudden things get pretty complicated.
     However they don’t have the luxury of time, so for the time being they have to put their thoughts aside and get on with the work. A work that asks for them to travel to Maine to help a friend of King’s, who’s a lawyer, defend one of his customers. On their way there though, things turn upside down, as they discover their employer dead in his car, viciously murdered. Who killed him and why? But more to the point: Why now? Does his murder have something to do with the case? Well, by the looks of it, it sure does, because when the two of them report the crime to the police, FBI rushes to the scene. What are the feds doing there?
     As time goes by, and the investigation progresses from dead end to dead end, King and Maxwell realize that there’s more to the case than they thought. The man they are trying to help is definitely not who they think he is, since the FBI is doing its best to keep him under wraps, in the high security prison for the criminally insane, where he’s held. Maybe for the first time the dynamic couple needs to ask for help. So, the young assistant of the dead lawyer flies in to fill in the gaps; the local sheriff is willing to do his best, after King helped one of his deputies out of an unnerving situation; and a mysterious woman who until that moment seemed to be in hiding steps in to tide loose ends. However, things begin to get from bad to worse, and soon the investigating team will find out that they should watch their back, as a fatal encounter is never out of the question for them.
     While these things are taking place in Maine, in Virginia some high ranking officials of the intelligence community are playing their very own power games – games that will have a direct effect on the lives of everyone involved in this case. These are ruthless people, whose only interest is gaining a bigger share in the country’s defense industry; the goose that lays the golden eggs. That’s where all the big money is, and since Uncle Sam is willing to pay a lot without asking much, everyone is eager to dig their fingers in. Thus, the nonstop plotting, the backstabbing, the corruption and the conspiracy theories come to the epicenter of the case with flying colors. And for once again Baldacci aims his arrows towards the various centers of authority; the ones that make rules, but do not play by them; the very same that seem to care more for their own good than for the good of the country.
     King, Maxwell and partners, will have to fight the good fight with some unseen and dishonorable enemies and by the time they come to the end of the tunnel, they will not know who to trust and in which direction to turn to. The truth will eventually come out of course, but the game will be far from over, as their opponents will have yet another surprise in store for them.
     This is an action packed thriller, by a master of the genre. The nonstop action, the twists and turns, even that little touch of romance that creeps in, make this novel one of the best by this author.
     We look forward to reading his next, One Summer, a family drama, which will not be a first for him since he’s already delivered the excellent Wish You Well.

Also read: Hell’s Corner

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