Hour Game (Sean King and Michelle Maxwell Series #2)

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"A woman is found murdered in the woods with a very special watch on her wrist - and what seemed a simple case soon escalates into a nightmare. The criminal methods of some of the most infamous killers of all time are being replicated by a new predator who stalks and strikes victims with a cunning brilliance. No one can understand the murderer's motives or who the next victim will be." "Drawn into this violent affair are two Secret Service agents turned private investigators, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell. Both have been hired to prove a man's
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Hour Game (Sean King and Michelle Maxwell Series #2)

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Overview

"A woman is found murdered in the woods with a very special watch on her wrist - and what seemed a simple case soon escalates into a nightmare. The criminal methods of some of the most infamous killers of all time are being replicated by a new predator who stalks and strikes victims with a cunning brilliance. No one can understand the murderer's motives or who the next victim will be." "Drawn into this violent affair are two Secret Service agents turned private investigators, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell. Both have been hired to prove a man's innocence in a domestic burglary involving an aristocratic, if dysfunctional, family. Soon stunning secrets will lead the partners into the middle of a frantic search for a killer unlike any they've confronted before." As the Hour Game barrels forward, Sean and Michelle face a macabre puzzle and uncover one horrifying revelation after another. Nearing the truth, they will find that their own lives are in danger. And then they're hit with the biggest surprise of all. When you play the Hour Game, you have to play to win. But time is running out for all of them.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
A savage serial killer is on the loose in rural Virginia; a murderer who adds insult to injury by leaving taunting signs on his victims. While investigating another crime, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are pulled into the serial killer hunt. As they search for the countryside slayer, they begin to suspect that the two cases may be connected. Worse yet, they realize that a second killer has joined the fray, imitating the murders of the first....
Publishers Weekly
Baldacci's last book, Split Second, was a relatively weak offering from this bestselling author, sunk by a cartoonish villain and absurd plot. But it did introduce two of Baldacci's (Absolute Power, etc.) most memorable characters, former Secret Service agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, in business together as private investigators in smalltown Wrightsburg, Va. Baldacci is back in form, and King and Maxwell reappear in this utterly absorbing, complex mystery-thriller that spins in unexpected directions. The novel starts as a serial-killer thriller, for there's a murderer at work in Wrightsburg whose selection of victims appears random but whose modus operandi, differing from kill to kill, mimics the work of a notorious serial killer-the Zodiac killer, John Wayne Gacy, etc. The fifth victim is local resident and international tycoon Robert E. Lee Battle. King and Maxwell have already been tangling with the gothic horror show of a dysfunctional Southern family that is the Battles, as they've been hired to help prove the innocence of a Battle handyman accused of stealing from the family. Then that handyman is murdered, and the duo (along with a clueless local sheriff and an obnoxious FBI agent) must race to figure out if the same killer is behind all the murders and, if so, why. There are terrific action sequences sprinkled throughout, and plenty of suspense, and the King/Maxwell relationship, while not romantic, emits sparks. It's Baldacci's portrayal of smalltown Southern life, however, and his sharp characterizations of the Battles, from the bombastic Bobby and his regal widow to his weird extended family, that give the novel texture and depth: this is Baldacci's most accomplished tale since his nonthriller Wish You Well, and it rivals that novel in its social commentary. Despite fair clues, few if any readers will ID the villain (villains?) before they're revealed, and a snappy surprise ending will have Baldacci's many fans remembering why they love this author so much. Agent, Aaron Priest. (Oct. 26) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
One of the residents of a small lakeside town in central Virginia has an IQ of 165, belongs to Mensa, and completes the New York Times crossword puzzle with ease every Sunday. He also happens to be a serial killer. In his tenth novel (after Split Second), Baldacci reaffirms his position at the top of the psychological thriller genre with this intriguing examination of a murderer's psyche. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, who first appeared in Split Second, return as former Secret Service agents trying to track down a meticulous killer who doesn't make mistakes. The killer taunts the authorities by leaving on his victims a watch set to the hour corresponding with their position on his hit list. The investigation weaves throughout the aptly named Battle family, a traditional Southern clan full of dark secrets and steamy lies. To end this killer's game, King and Maxwell must solve the riddle of intertwining motives and alibis. Strongly recommended for most popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/04.]-Ken Bolton, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A serial killer with a sense of history is the baddie in this latest from Baldacci, one of the reigning kings of potboilers (Split Second, 2003, etc.). He kills, he leaves clues, he flatters through imitation: Son of Sam, the San Francisco Zodiac killer, Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gracy, and so on down a sanguinary list of accredited members of the Monsters' Hall of Fame. Suddenly, the landscape of poor little Wrightsburg, Virginia, is littered with corpses, and ex-Secret Service agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell have their hands full. That's because bewildered, beleaguered Chief of Police Todd Williams has turned to the newly minted private investigating firm of King and Maxwell for desperately needed (unofficial) help. Even these ratiocinative wizards, however, admit to puzzlement. "But I'm not getting this," says Michelle. "Why commit murders in similar styles to past killers as a copycat would and then write letters making it clear you're not them?" Excellent question, and it goes pretty much unanswered. Never mind-enter the battling Battles, a family with the requisite number of sins and secrets to qualify fully as hot southern Gothic and to prop up a plot in need. Bobby Battles, the patriarch, is bedridden, but Remmy, his wife, is one lively mischief-making steel magnolia. She's brought breaking-and-entering charges against decent local handyman Junior Deaver, who as a result languishes in the county jail. Convinced of his innocence, Junior's lawyer hires King & Maxwell to sniff around for exculpatory evidence. Well, will the two plot streams flow together? You betcha. Will the copycat-serial-killer at one point decide that King and Maxwell are just too clever to live?Inevitably. And when at last that CCSK's identity is revealed and his crimes explained (talkily and tediously), will readers be satisfied? Only the charitable among them. Lame but, like its predecessors, bound for bestsellerdom.
New York Daily News
"King and Maxwell are fictional treats, a fabulously entertaining team, and the action is hot and hard."
Richmond Times-Dispatch
"HOUR GAME has the elements of a classic Baldacci thriller. His characters keep getting better and richer and the plots-while always tight and well executed-are becoming more intricate and realistic...There is no question: David Baldacci will stay on the bestseller list for a long time to come."
Newark Star-Ledger
"The action is suspenseful and relentless."
From the Publisher
"King and Maxwell are fictional treats, a fabulously entertaining team, and the action is hot and hard."—New York Daily News

"The action is suspenseful and relentless."—Newark Star-Ledger

"Utterly absorbing...spins in unexpected directions...There are terrific action sequences throughout and plenty of suspense...texture and depth...A snappy surprise ending will have Baldacci's many fans remembering why they love this author so much."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"HOUR GAME has the elements of a classic Baldacci thriller. His characters keep getting better and richer and the plots-while always tight and well executed-are becoming more intricate and realistic...There is no question: David Baldacci will stay on the bestseller list for a long time to come."—Richmond Times-Dispatch

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446616492
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Series: Sean King and Michelle Maxwell Series , #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 624
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

David Baldacci lives with his family in Virginia. He and his wife have founded the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America. He invites you to visit him at www.davidbaldacci.com and his foundation at www.wishyouwellfoundation.org.

Biography

David Baldacci's authoritative legal thrillers operate on the irresistible notion that a sinister undercurrent threads through the country's most powerful institutions.

While his stories hinge on the complex machinations behind the presidency, the FBI, the Supreme Court and other spheres of influence, Baldacci (a former Washington, D.C.-based attorney) finds his way into a mystery through the eyes of the innocents. Semi-innocents, at least: small players who often don't realize they're players at all end up hunting down answers, and their hunt becomes the reader's.

According to Baldacci, reading John Irving's The World According to Garp convinced him that he wanted to be a novelist. Absolute Power -- in which a thief finds himself accidentally connected to a murder involving the president and the ensuing coverup -- was hardly Irvingesque; but it did begin Baldacci's friendly relationship with the bestseller lists, which has continued over his writing career.

Baldacci's style is brief and plot-driven, but he's not afraid to linger on macabre and vivid details, such as a rosary clenched in a plane crash victim's hand, or hard-learned lessons from a sniper's life (pack your food so you can find it at night, by touch). These small but memorable -- indeed, almost cinematic -- details give his books another layer that distinguishes them from the average potboiler.

Although the author has occasionally departed from his usual fare (examples include the tenderhearted coming-of-age tale Wish You Well and the holiday-themed adventure The Christmas Train), it is high-octane thrillers that are his true stock in trade. Whether it's a taut stand-alone or a new installment in his Camel Club series, readers know when they crack the spine of a new Baldacci book, they're in for an action-packed page-turner.

.

Good To Know

Baldacci was a trial lawyer and a corporate lawyer for nine years in Washington, D.C.

He worked his way through college as a Pinkerton security guard and by washing and detailing 18-wheel trucks.

Baldacci writes under his own name except when published in Italy, where he uses a pseudonym because it is the homeland of his ancestors.

Bill Clinton selected The Simple Truth as his favorite novel of 1998, according to Baldacci's web site.

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    1. Hometown:
      Northern Virginia
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 5, 1960
    2. Place of Birth:
      Richmond, VIrginia
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Political Science, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1982; J.D., University of Virginia, 1986
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Hour Game


By David Baldacci

Warner Books

Copyright © 2004 Columbus Rose, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-53108-1


Chapter One

THE MAN IN THE RAIN SLICKER WALKED slightly bent over, his breathing labored and his body sweaty. The extra weight he was bearing, though not all that substantial, was awkwardly placed, and the terrain was uneven. It was never an easy thing to tote a dead body through the woods in the middle of the night. He shifted the corpse to his left shoulder and trudged on. The soles of his shoes bore no distinguishing marks; not that it would have mattered, since the rain quickly washed away any traces of footprints. He'd checked the forecast; the rain was why he was here. The inclement weather was the best friend he could ask for.

Aside from the dead body draped over his sturdy shoulder, the man was also remarkable for the black hood he wore, on which was stitched an esoteric symbol that ran down the length of the cloth. It was a circle with a crosshairs through its middle. Probably instantly recognizable to anyone over the age of fifty, the logo once inspired a dread that had significantly eroded with time. It didn't matter that no one "alive" would see him wearing the hood; he took grim satisfaction in its lethal symbolism.

Within ten minutes he'd reached the location he'd carefully selected on an earlier visit, and laid the body down with a reverence that belied the violent manner in which the person had died. He took a deep breath and held it as he undid the telephone wire holding the bundle closed, and unwrapped the plastic. She was young with features that had been attractive two days prior; the woman was not much to look at now. The soft blond hair fell away from the greenish-tinged skin, revealing closed eyes and bloated cheeks. Had the eyes been open, they might have still held the startled gaze of the deceased as she endured her own murder, an experience replicated roughly thirty thousand times each year in America.

He slid the plastic all the way free and laid the woman on her back. Then he let out his breath, fought the urge to retch caused by the stench of the body, and sucked in another lungful of air. Using one of his gloved hands and his light, he searched for and found the small, forked branch that he'd earlier placed in the bramble nearby. He used this to support the woman's forearm, which he'd positioned such that it was pointing to the sky. The body's rigor mortis, though rapidly fading, had made the task difficult, but he was strong and had finally levered the stiffened limb to the correct angle. He took the watch out of his pocket, checked with his flashlight to make sure it was set properly, and placed it around the dead woman's wrist.

Though far from a religious man, he knelt over the body and muttered a brief prayer, cupping his hand over his mouth and nose as he did so.

"You weren't directly responsible, but you were all I had. You didn't die in vain. And I believe you're actually better off." Did he really believe what he had just said? Maybe not. Maybe it didn't matter.

He looked at the dead woman's face, studying her features scrupulously as though a scientist observing a particularly fascinating experiment. He had never killed another person before. He'd made it quick and, he hoped, painless. In the dull, misty night the woman seemed surrounded by a yellowish glow, as though she'd already become a spirit.

He drew farther back and examined the area all around, checking for any extraneous items that might lead to evidence against him. He discovered only a piece of cloth from his hood that had caught on a bush near where the body lay. Careless, you can't afford that. He placed it in his pocket. He spent several more minutes looking for other such items nearing microscopic size.

In the world of criminal investigation it was these forensic "no-see-ums" that did one in. A single drop of blood, semen or saliva, a smudge of fingerprint, a hair follicle with a bit of DNA-littered root attached, and the police could be reading you your rights while prosecutors circled hungrily nearby. Unfortunately, even full awareness of that reality offered little protection. Every criminal, no matter how careful, left potentially incriminating material at the crime scene. Thus, he'd taken great care to have no direct physical contact with the dead woman as though she were an infectious agent that could cause a fatal disease.

He rolled up the plastic and pocketed the telephone cord, checked the watch once more and then slowly made his way back to his car.

Behind him lay the dead woman, her hand upraised to the watery heavens. Her watch was slightly luminous in the dark and made a dull beacon for her new resting place. She wouldn't remain undiscovered for long. Dead bodies aboveground rarely did, even in places as isolated as this.

As he drove off, the hooded man used his finger to trace the symbol on his hood, making the sign of the cross at the same time. The crosshairs symbol also appeared on the face of the watch he'd placed on the dead woman's wrist. That should certainly get a rise out of them. He took a breath full of excitement as well as dread. For years he had imagined that this day would never come. For years his courage had faltered. Now that the first step had been taken, he felt a great sense of empowerment and liberation.

He shifted into third gear and sped up, his tires grabbing the slicked roadway and holding firm as the darkness swallowed up the lights of his blue VW. He wanted to get to where he was going as fast as possible.

He had a letter to write.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Hour Game by David Baldacci Copyright © 2004 by Columbus Rose, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 258 )
Rating Distribution

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(85)

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(33)

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(22)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 259 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2011

    highly recommended

    After reading Split Second I was wishing the story would continue so when this book popped up on my Nook screen, I downloaded it right away. It has some interesting plot twists and turns and kept me guessing until the end.

    The characters of King and Maxwell are more defined in this book as their association as investigators grows. Intersting play on character names in the book as well.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2012

    Great read

    Kept me guessing to firgure who the killers were.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2012

    recommended

    well worth taking the time to read

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2012

    So many murders... so little time`

    I thought Baldacci was going to run out of characters to kill off!!! This is a must read! Bravo to Baldacci.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2011

    Great book

    Great book as are all the Sean King/Michell Maxwell books. Nook books are getting too expensive and the sales don't include Nook Books. I am disappointed!!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2011

    Must Read

    It started a little slow but picked up after the first chapter. I was certainly a page turner, it kept you on your toes. The ending keeps you wanting the next book which I am reading now "Simple Genius". Also a good book I am still trying to figure out what the plot is but I is intreguing nonetheless. Read this book you will become a Fan of David Baldacci like I have become.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2010

    Hour Game

    I have read almost everything that David Baldacci has written, and this is good. However, it does not command the same "stay up 'til dawn" reading urgency as some of his others. Worth reading in his group of books, and it is enjoyable. But it is not the top of his books. You can't always get A+, but it is an A. I am looking formward to his new book released in April, 2010.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2009

    Couldn't Finish it.

    I thought the writing was very trite and ridiculous. Is Baldacci a better writer than a fifth grader? Not based on this novel.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2008

    Boring a strugle

    I can't believe i struggled to get through this novel. I didn't think it was even possible to struggle so much. I'm sorry I like Baldacci and his previous but this Hour Game was unreadable. If i afdended anyone - I am truly contrite.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2005

    So unbelievable it turns comical

    Story is totally absurd. Get to the point where you are just reading the words to get to the end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2014

    highly recommend to a reader who likes to get to know the characters.

    Has the twists and turns to keep the interest up. I really like the partnership of King and Maxwell. Easy reading.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2014

    Love it...

    My favorite line so far, " one never knew where a nine-millimeter SIG with fourteen rounds might come in handy"

    Our hero, Michelle Maxwell says this while on vacation and she's on her morning run.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 24, 2014

    good read

    This was my first Sean King /Michelle Maxwell book I've read and I loved it. Already ordered the next two to read.I like the way the snip at each other. Try it.

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  • Posted October 25, 2013

    Great read!

    I love this series. David Baldacci keeps you guessing throughout which is really fun. Highly recommend this author, this series and his other series'as well!

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  • Posted September 13, 2013

    Great second in series

    We got to get to know the sleuth team a little more with this book. The storyline got confusing when more killers stepped into the plot. Baldacci carried the confusion for the reader quite well. A good mystery!! A good read!!

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  • Posted August 31, 2013

    So many twists and turns.

    Very,very,very good thriller. Have read all 4 so far. Everyone should read David Baldacci.

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  • Posted August 23, 2013

    A Must Read book

    Love the King and Maxwell series. Keeps you guessing who did it until the very end!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2013

    Baldacci fan---but not this one.

    If this had been his first book, it might have been his last. Love all the others

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  • Posted July 5, 2013

    Same as always, GREAT ! ! !

    Enjoyed the book and story very much, just as always, David writes a great book and the story keeps you on your toes and guessing all along.
    Characters are believable, likable and really terrible at times. Just the way life is and it's great.

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  • Posted June 24, 2013

    Very believable characters, Timely themes, The author has you la

    Very believable characters, Timely themes, The author has you laughing and crying at the same time.

    Left wanting more, guess I'l have to get the next one in the series...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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