Split Second is the first in the gripping King and Maxwell series by bestselling author David Baldacci.
When something distracts Secret Agent Sean King for a split second, it costs him his career and presidential candidate, Clyde Ritter, his life. But what stole his attention? And why was Ritter shot?
Eight years later Michelle Maxwell is on the fast track through the ranks of the Secret Service when her career is stopped short: presidential candidate John Bruno is abducted from a funeral home while under her protection.
The similarity between the two cases drives Michelle to re-open investigations into the Ritter fiasco and join forces with attractive ex-agent King. The pair are determined to get to the bottom of what happened in those critical moments.
Meanwhile, high-ranking members of the legal system and key witnesses from both cases are going missing. King is losing friends, colleagues and clients fast and his ex-lover, Joan Dillinger, is playing curious games – she wants Sean back, but she also owes him for something . . .
Split Second is followed by Hour Game, Simple Genius, First Family, The Sixth Man and King and Maxwell.
"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.
Too complicated and unbelievable
Really? A cast of far too many characters is only one of the problems with this book. More serious is a creaking plot with a climax which is laughable in its confusion, all of which comes at the end of too many pages of drawn-out writing which would have benefitted from the services of a good editor.