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David Baldacci's heart-stopping Hour Game is the second fast-paced thriller in the King and Maxwell series.
Following their collaboration in Split Second, ex-Secret Service agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell have gone into partnership and are investigating the robbery of some secret documents at the residence of the incredibly wealthy Battle family. It seems like a straightforward case of domestic burglary, but soon they begin to suspect links to larger, more terrifying events now shaking the prosperous town of Wrightsburg . . .
The unidentified corpse of an attractive young woman turns up in the woods; two high school kids, one shot in the back, the other in the face, are found dead in their car; a successful lawyer is discovered stabbed to death in her own home. A serial killer is on the loose. The murderer kills in the manner of famous killers of the past but takes care to leave a stopped watch at the scene of each crime – corresponding to the victim's position on his hit list.
As the killing spree escalates it seems that the fractured Battle family are somehow involved and Maxwell and King suddenly find themselves racing to solve an intricate puzzle, one that is full of tantalizing clues but barren of solid evidence, and one that is leaving even the FBI confounded. And all the while, the body count is rising . . .
Hour Game is followed by Simple Genius, First Family, The Sixth Man and King and Maxwell.
Stage and film actor Brick, an Audie Award winning veteran of more than 150 audiobooks, is clearly a pro at interpreting the printed word. And Baldacci's exciting new thriller, in which Secret Service agents turned private detectives Sean King and Michelle Maxwell hunt a murderer copycatting infamous serial killers, gives him particularly powerful material to work with. To vocalize the sleuths' complementary but differing lifestyles, Brick adjusts his pace and pitch: faster and subtly higher for energetic "supernova" Maxwell, firmer and more authoritative for "steady glacier" King. For chapters dealing with the unidentified killer, he uses an unemotional, affectless narration that makes the graphic violence even more chilling. For other denizens of the book's rural Virginia location, the actor displays an assortment of Southern drawls, from the melodious, genteel tenor of a septuagenarian King-Maxwell client to the commanding Steel Magnolia tone of a powerful matriarch. Once the killer is unmasked, much of the novel's tension dissipates, and it never quite returns, even when the villain miraculously escapes to take care of unfinished business. Possibly sensing this problem, Brick revs up the narrative pace after the jailbreak, making sure listeners will be paying full attention for the final surprise. It's worth waiting for. Simultaneous release with the Warner hardcover (Forecasts, Sept. 20).