Monday, February 16, 2009

“Divine Justice”, by David Baldacci (Macmillan)


Oliver Stone is on the run, hiding out in rural Virginia. The CIA’s best investigator is set loose, only to have his loyalties tested.

After the tumultuous events of Stone Cold, our hero Oliver Stone/John Carr takes vengeance on the two responsible for so much death and horror throughout his own life and those of people close to him. Divine Justice opens immediately after Stone pulls the trigger, killing Carter Gray (a while after he also assassinated Senator Simpson), and chronicles his flight from Washington, as he tries to draw attention away from his friends in the Camel Club. After intervening in a dispute on an Amtrak train, he finds himself taking refuge in Divine, Virginia – a sleepy, back-end-of-nowhere, miner town. What Stone finds in Divine is anything but a sleepy rural town. Local intrigue and rivalries boil over, dragging Stone into a situation he has no wish to be involved in.

Hot on his heels is Joe Knox, a gifted, tenacious CIA investigator, called in to hunt down Stone. Knox, suspicious of his superiors, convinced their not telling him everything about his quarry, gets to work with a quiet focus; coupled with a hint of trepidation, he looks into connections between Stone and his immediate superior, Macklin Hayes. Coming up against the wall of loyalty Stone has inspired among his friends, Knox is forced to spread his net wider and increase the pressure.

Meanwhile, the remaining members of the Camel Club – Annabelle, Reuben and Caleb – decide to get themselves involved, to repay Stone for the times he saved their lives. So, they start shadowing Knox, hoping to catch a break and find Stone first. The chase and the hunt are on…

It’s unusual for a thriller novel to feature characters like Stone and Knox as central figures. They’re both pushing 60, having served in Vietnam. This doesn’t exactly promise James Bond-levels of action and adventure (though, I’m pretty sure Stone could take Bond easily), but Baldacci still manages to cram a lot of action (and just a few gun battles) into Divine Justice. The novel is populated by a cast of interesting, believable characters; from Danny, the former college quarterback who seems to be a key part of the goings on in Divine; Abby, Danny’s mother and love interest for Stone; Tyree, the local sheriff who has unclear motives of his own. The novel and the relationships between all the characters unfolds in a natural way, with nothing in the writing or the dialogue appearing forced or synthetic. Baldacci really knows how to make it feel like you’re right there, observing the events of the story.

Baldacci’s skill at spinning a gripping, intelligent thriller is still intact. With Divine Justice, we get the usual thriller elements, with the tension jacked up to a higher level. Unveiling just enough to keep the reader hooked and turning the pages, Baldacci takes hold of our attention and refuses to let us go. Gripping and tense, this is perhaps Baldacci’s best novel yet. Essential reading for all thriller lovers.

For fans of: Vince Flynn, Kyle Mills, Brad Thor, Richard North Patterson, John Grisham, Lee Child

Series Chronology: The Camel Club, The Collectors, Stone Cold, Divine Justice

No comments:

Post a Comment