David Baldacci is a world-renowned author with more than 30 best-selling books to his credit. He is most famous for his Shaw and Katie, Amos Decker, John Puller and King and Maxwell Series. Most importantly, he is the author of the internationally bestselling book – Absolute Power [A major Hollywood film starring Clint Eastwood]
David Baldacci has sterling credentials. So, when I went to the Public Library and saw this book, I had no hesitation in picking it up for my regular dose of pleasant reading.
It took me about 5-6 hours to finish this book [spread over a period of 2 days]. Read on to find out if you should read this book or not.
Before, I commence with the review of the book, the reader is best served for a short history lesson on the Iran-Contra affair to gain some context.
In 1979, Iran was the subject of an arms embargo mandated by the US government. Under the embargo, it was forbidden for US Defense firms to transact with the Iranian Government. In 1985, some American hostages were captured by the Hezbollah [A Lebanese Paramilitary group].To achieve their freedom, the US government made a complex deal to sell arms to the Iranians and route a portion of the revenue to the Contras in Nicaragua to overthrow the leftist government there. Whew! To cut a long story short, this sordid saga came in the public limelight around 1986 as a scandal- since selling arms to Iran was forbidden under US law.
This also led to the end of the careers of many people serving in the US army and NSC [National Security Council].This is the basic premise of David Baldacci’s book – King and Maxwell.
“The story begins with a botched military operation, somewhere in Afghanistan. The operation is delivering 1 billion Euros to a shady freedom fighter organization as part of a secret deal.
An US army soldier, Sam Wingo ends up being the fall guy for this deal gone wrong. He is also declared Killed in Action-an obvious lie by the Army to cover its tracks”
King and Maxwell are hired by Tyler Wingo, Sam’s 15 year son since he believes that the Army is lying to him, also because he gets a text from Wingo right after the army declares him dead.
Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are private investigators and ex-Secret Service agents, fresh off a case in which Maxwell has been injured grievously. Maxwell does not care for her injuries as she wants to help Tyler desperately and begins in right earnest.
King is described as some-one who plans his actions, while Maxwell is the more,” In your face, punk” type who believes in acting first and then thinking later.
The two immediately start their line of questioning by questioning Tyler’s step-mother, his friend Kathy and start uncovering leads in the process. They also manage to ruffle a lot of feathers in the US government. The US security agencies start threatening them off the case. King and Maxwell, however grow more determined to find the truth.
Meanwhile, Wingo, having escaped from the bad deal, escapes into the USA through a series of dangerous tricks and turns & tries to contact Tyler.
King approaches the investigation from another angle – his ex-wife is married to Major-General Curtis Brown a hot-shot Army general working in the Pentagon and a person who King think might have some knowledge of the deal. King and Maxwell also employ a person named Edgar to find about the E-mails which Wingo and his son exchange.
As we go further in the book, a person named Alan Grant is introduced. He is also the nasty villain who pulls all the puppets’ strings behind the curtains.
His Motivation is also revealed – Revenge the death of his parents who were unfairly blamed for the Iran-Contra affair deal. [It is shown that they were employees of the National Security Council]
The story lies in how Grant tries to exact his revenge for all the wrongs made in his life.
Baldacci writes in a very simple language – very easy to follow. He seems to follow Frederick Forsyth’s trick of tweaking historical events by giving them a formulaic treatment. However, Baldacci is no Forsyth and the impact does not come through as much he would have wished.
Baldacci makes use of too many fortuitous events. This makes the story a bit unbelievable and frankly, a bit childish also. These were essential for plot continuity.
There is Chemistry and sexual tension between the lead pair. Baldacci tries to take advantage of this by injecting some sarcastic humour. He succeeds, at some places.
The story moves at a hectic pace, making for easy reading but the unfolding of critical plot elements is a bit drab [Like I pointed earlier also] and ends up deflating your excitement.
The ending is no surprise. All ends well. King and Maxwell are even rewarded for their dedication and sense of National Duty. There is a hint of a future romance.
The book is definitely a one-time read & looks good for TV/Drama Adaptation.
Writing Style: 3.8/5
Verdict: One time Read!
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