I listened to the first two book in this series some time ago as an introduction to Baldacci’s thrillers and really should have followed straight onto the third as the story continues from a baseline set in book 2 The Collectors and book 1 The Camel Club. The reader has a lovely sounding, slightly gruff, older male voice which I really liked. It suited the story and suited the main character Oliver Stone, ex US government assassin.
The Camel Club of the series title is a rag, tag and bobtail conglomerate of folks Stone, rare books librarian Caleb Shaw, obsessive Milton Farb , ex agent now anti war protester Rueben Rhodes and side kick veteran Secret Service agent Alex Ford. The characters are just great, well crafted and very human. It is the details Baldacci gives that makes them so real and personable from the physical descriptions to their familiar circumstances, to the emotional context of their characters.
“Harry Finn rose as usual at six-thirty, made coffee, let the dog out into the fenced backyard for its morning constitutional, showered, shaved, woke the kids for school and oversaw that complicated operation for the next half hour as breakfasts were gulped, backpacks and shoes grabbed and arguments started and settled. His wife joined him, looking sleepy but nonetheless game for another day as a mother/chauffeur of three, including a precocious, independent-minded teenage boy.
Harry Finn was in his thirties with still boyish features and a pair of clear blue eyes that missed nothing. He'd married young and loved his wife and three children and even held sincere affection toward the family dog, a floppy-eared golden Labradoodle named George. Finn was an inch over six feet tall, with a long-limbed, wiry build ideally suited for speed and endurance. He was dressed in his usual faded jeans and shirttail-out clothing. And with round eyeglasses on and his intelligent, introspective expression, he looked like an accountant who enjoyed listening to Aerosmith after a day of crunching numbers. Although he was amazingly athletic, living by his wits was actually how he put bread on the table and iPods in his kids' ears, and he was very good at his work. Indeed, there were very few people who could do what Harry Finn could. And live. He kissed his wife good-bye, hugged his kids, even the teenager, grabbed a duffel bag that he'd placed near the front door the night before, slid into his Toyota Prius and drove to National Airport on the Potomac River right outside of Washington, D.C.”
I like his paced style. The story line crosses the underworld/mob and the connections and progresses along very nicely linking in international espionage hit squads. I was so hooked at the end of this third book, with its Dumbledore moment near the end, that I have immediately started book 4 Divine Justice
Baldacci’s website has book intros, excerpts from the audio versions, for anyone interested
ashramblings verdict: (4*) If you like a real good thriller, this series is for you, but read them from the beginning and be prepared to read them all.