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Two Secret Service agents sworn to guard their protectees lost them in a single moment . . . and in this #1 New York Times bestseller, they're about to learn that the violence has just begun.
Michelle Maxwell has just wrecked her promising career at the Secret Service. Against her instincts, she let a presidential candidate out of her sight for the briefest moment and the man whose safety was her responsibility vanished into thin air.
Sean King knows how the younger agent feels. Eight years earlier, the hard-charging Secret Service agent allowed his attention to be diverted for a split second. And the candidate he was protecting was gunned down before his eyes. Now Michelle and Sean are about to see their destinies converge.
Drawn into a maze of lies, secrets, and deadly coincidences, the two discredited agents uncover a shocking truth: that the separate acts of violence that shattered their lives were really a long time in the making—and are a long way from over.
"We just solved a huge, complicated mystery," says one protagonist to another in this latest novel from the bestselling author of Last Man Standing, Absolute Power, etc. And that is the problem: this story of two disgraced Secret Service agents who come together to solve two campaign-trail crimes doesn't play to Baldacci's strengths, which are suspense and action (as well as strong characterizations; here's one thriller author who writes people that readers care about). The novel is primarily a mystery, with lots of talk and untangling of clues, and a less than gripping one at that. It begins in 1996, when Secret Service agent Sean King is distracted by what isn't revealed until near the book's end just when the presidential candidate he's guarding is shot dead. Eight years later, agent Michelle Maxwell lets the candidate she's watching enter a funeral parlor room alone; he's kidnapped. Then a body appears in the office of King, who's now a successful lawyer in North Carolina. Maxwell sees King on TV and decides to look into the event that caused his disgrace, so similar to hers. Meanwhile, King's old flame, Joan Dillinger, an ex-agent whose security firm has been hired to find the kidnapped presidential candidate, hires King to help in the hunt. The narrative ties binding the characters don't loosen much over the novel's course, as curious cross-currents flow between the two cases, all leading to a cinematic but off-the-wall denouement that reveals a villain who is more cartoon than human. What saves this novel are a few strong but brief action sequences and, above all, the interplay among the principal characters, particularly the romantic tensions among King, Maxwell and Dillinger. This is, alas, Baldacci's weakest thriller in years but with its terrific title, the Baldacci name and heavy promo, it's bound to hit the lists.