Saving Faith

Saving Faith

3.7 102
by David Baldacci
     
 

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When a zealous CIA Chief begins personally spying on his clients to promote a secret agenda of his own devising, the beautiful Faith Lockhard, one of Washington's greatest influence-peddlers, tells the FBI all her suspicions. Now in mortal danger, she still hopes to see justice done. Yet who will rescue Faith?

Overview

When a zealous CIA Chief begins personally spying on his clients to promote a secret agenda of his own devising, the beautiful Faith Lockhard, one of Washington's greatest influence-peddlers, tells the FBI all her suspicions. Now in mortal danger, she still hopes to see justice done. Yet who will rescue Faith?

Editorial Reviews

bn.com Review
The Barnes & Noble Review
Saving Faith opens during a meeting of a top-secret cartel headed by Robert Thornhill, deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Pursuing his own agenda, Thornhill pushes the group into arranging the assassination of Faith Lockhart, a Washington lobbyist who, for reasons revealed later in the novel, threatens his plans. The group reluctantly agrees to implement Thornhill's plan, even though it means that an FBI bodyguard must also die.

Scheduled to take place at an FBI safe house, the hit goes wrong due to the timely intervention of private detective Adam Lee, hired to shadow Faith by persons unknown. Although the FBI agent is killed, Lee escapes with Faith, beginning a long, dangerous odyssey that starts in Maryland, moves to North Carolina, and ends in a Senate conference room in Washington. Adam and Faith become fugitives, forced to flee from the police, the FBI, and the CIA.

Okay, by now you probably have several questions, among them: Who is Robert Thornhill, and why does he want Faith Lockhart dead? Who are the members of the secret cartel, and what are their goals? What secrets does a lobbyist possess that could threaten the CIA? Why is her death important enough to sacrifice the life of an FBI agent? Why was Adam Lee at the cabin that fateful night?

Well, I'd be doing Baldacci and his readers a grave disservice by revealing the intricacies of his convoluted plot, so you'll get no answers from this reviewer. I will say, however, that the plot ofSaving Faith ultimately does hang together, making for a gripping read. Like Alfred Hitchcock, Baldacci loves coincidence. Like the famous director, he also takes his audience for a hell of a ride, building to a surprising, satisfying conclusion. (I suspect the Hitchcockian touches were deliberate, as many of the book's elements parallel the classic "North by Northwest"; witness the name Robert Thornhill, suspiciously close to that of Roger Thornhill, the unwilling hero of that movie thriller.) Baldacci remains in top form, showing that the success of his previous books (Absolute Power, Total Control, The Winner, and The Simple Truth) was no fluke.


USA Today
Compelling...finely drawn...a page-turner worth losing sleep over.
—On The Simple Truth
New York Times Book Review
Mr. Baldacci has come up with yet another winner...the excitement builds....The plot's many planted bombs explode unpredictably.
— On The Winner
Houston Chronicle
A grabber...a superior thriller.
— On Absolute Power
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Baldacci's fifth high-concept premise in as many novels (The Simple Truth; Absolute Power; etc.) propels his hard-working new thriller: a renegade CIA faction attempts to reassert the agency's primacy over the FBI by manipulating members of Congress who fund both outfits. To do so, the CIA conspirators aim to take over a bribery scheme they've discovered. The scam was concocted by legendary lobbyist Danny Buchanan, who has been greasing the palms of lawmakers to gain their support of bills aiding the poor and hungry overseas. The spooks plan to assassinate Buchanan and his protege, the lovely Faith Lockhart, and force the legislators, under threat of exposure, to support the CIA over the FBI. First, however, they'll have to kill the FBI person guarding Faith, for she has confessed everything to the bureau in hopes of working a deal for herself and Buchanan. But the CIA villains haven't reckoned on the resilience of the two lobbyists, nor on the grit of FBI agent Brooke Reynolds, nor on the skill of PI Lee Adams, who gets caught up in the attempted hit on Faith and her guardian-- and who then goes on the run with the lobbyist. The novel evolves into a frantic, exciting chase, FBI after CIA after Lee/Faith, with a few nifty twists. Baldacci's characters continue to grow in complexity--there's an exceptionally fine scene in which Lee, drunk, nearly rapes Faith--but, alas, so does his plotting. This novel is overdone, with too many heroes and subplots and enough data withheld from readers to generate confusion. Baldacci's prose can still break the jaws of subvocalizers, too. The novel moves fast, though, and its players and suspense are strong--as should be sales. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
When lobbyist Danny Buchanan's bribery scheme gets him enmeshed with shady doings at the CIA, his partner, Faith, must run for her life. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
J. D. Reed
Former trial lawyer Baldacci knows how to freshen a suspense novel's usual cast of characters...Bottom Line: Master storyteller keeps the faith.

People Magazine's Page Turner of the Week

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446931359
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
09/01/2000
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
11,593
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

" Chapter 1
The somber group of men sat in a large room that rested far belowground, accessed by only a single, high-speed elevator. The chamber had been secretly built during the early 1960s under the guise of renovating the private building that squatted over it. The original plan, of course, was to use this "super-bunker" as a refuge during a nuclear attack. This facility was not for the top leaders of American government; it was for those whose level of relative "unimportance" dictated that they probably wouldn't be able to get out in time but who still rated protection afforded no ordinary citizen. Politically, even in the context of total destruction, there must be order.
The bunker was built at a time when people believed it possible to survive a direct nuclear hit by burrowing into the earth inside a steel cocoon. After the holocaust that would annihilate the rest of the country, leaders would emerge from the rubble with absolutely nothing left to lead, unless you counted vapor.
The original, aboveground building had been leveled long ago, but the subterranean room remained under what was now a small strip mall that had been vacant for years. Forgotten by virtually all, the chamber was now used as a meeting place for certain people in the country's primary intelligence-gathering agency. There was some risk involved, since the meetings were not related to the men's official duties. The matters discussed at these gatherings were illegal, and tonight even murderous. Thus additional precautions had been necessary.
The super-thick steel walls had been supplemented by a copper coating. That measure, along with tons of dirt overhead, protected against prying electronic ears lurking in space and elsewhere. These men didn't particularly like coming to this underground room. It was inconvenient, and ironically, it seemed far too James Bondish even for their admittedly cloak-and-dagger tastes. However, the truth was the earth was now encircled with so much advanced surveillance technology that virtually no conversation taking place on its surface was safe from interception. One had to dig into the dirt to escape his enemies. And if there was a place where people could meet with reasonable confidence that their conversations would not be overheard even in their world of ultrasophisticated peekaboo, this was it.
The gray-headed people present at the meeting were all white males, and most were nearing their agency's mandatory retirement age of sixty. Dressed quietly and professionally, they could have been doctors, lawyers or investment bankers. One would probably not remember any of the group a day after seeing them. This anonymity was their stock-in-trade. These sorts of people lived and died, sometimes violently, over such details.
Collectively, this cabal possessed thousands of secrets that could never be known by the general public because the public would certainly condemn the actions giving rise to these secrets. However, America often demanded results-economic, political, social and otherwise-that could be obtained only by smashing certain parts of the world to a bloody pulp. It was the job of these men to figure out how to do so in a clandestine manner that would not reflect poorly on the United States, yet would still keep the country safe from the pesky international terrorists and other foreigners unhappy with the stretch of America's muscle.
The purpose of tonight's gathering was to plot the killing of Faith Lockhart. Technically, the CIA was prohibited by presidential executive order from engaging in assassination. However, these men, though employed by the Agency, were not representing the CIA tonight. This was their private agenda, and there was little disagreement that the woman had to die, and soon; it was critical for the well being of the country. These men knew this, even if American presidents did not. However, because of another life that was involved, the meeting had become acrimonious, the group resembling a cadre of posturing members fighting on Capitol Hill over billion-dollar slices of pork.
"What you're saying, then," one of the white-haired men said as he poked the smoke-filled air with a slender finger, "is that along with Lockhart we have to kill a federal agent." The man shook his head incredulously. "Why kill one of our own? It can only lead to disaster."
The gentleman at the head of the table nodded thoughtfully. Robert Thornhill was the CIA's most distinguished Cold War soldier, a man whose status at the Agency was unique. His reputation was unassailable, his compilation of professional victories unmatched. As associate deputy director of Operations, he was the Agency's ultimate free safety. The DDO, or deputy director of operations, was responsible for running the field operations that undertook the secret collection of foreign intelligence. The operations directorate of the CIA was also unofficially known as the "spy shop," and the deputy director was still not even publicly identified. It was the perfect place to get meaningful work done.
Thornhill had organized this select group, who were as upset as he about the state of affairs at the CIA. It was he who had remembered that this bloated underground time capsule existed. And it was Thornhill who had found the money to secretly bring the chamber back to working condition and upgrade its facilities. There were thousands of little taxpayer-funded toys like that sprinkled around the country, many of them gone to complete waste. Thornhill suppressed a smile. Well, if governments didn't waste their citizens' hard-earned money, then what would be left for governments to do?
Even now, as he ran his hand over the stainless steel console with its quaint built-in ashtrays, sniffed the filtered air and felt the protective coolness of the earth all around, Thornhill's mind wandered back for a moment to the Cold War period. At least there was a measure of certainty with the hammer and sickle. In truth, Thornhill would take the lumbering Russian bull over the agile sand snake that you never knew was out there until it flung its venom into you. There were many who wanted nothing more in life than to topple the United States. It was his job to ensure that never happened.
Gazing around the table, Thornhill gauged each man's devotion to his country and was satisfied it matched his own. He had wanted to serve America for as long as he could remember. His father had been with the OSS, the World War II-era predecessor to the CIA. He had known little of what his father did at the time, but the man had instilled in his son the philosophy that there was no greater thing to do with one's life than to serve one's country. Thornhill had joined the Agency right out of Yale. Right up until the day he died, his father had been proud of his son. But no prouder than the son had been of the old man.
Thornhill's hair was a shining silver, which lent him a distinguished air. His eyes were gray and active, the angle of his chin blunt. His voice was deep, cultured; technical jargon and the poetry of Longfellow flowed from his mouth with equal ease. The man still wore three-piece suits and favored pipe smoking over cigarettes. The fifty-eight-year-old Thornhill could have quietly finished out his time at the CIA and led the pleasant life of a former public servant, well traveled, erudite. He had no thought of going out quietly, and the reason was very clear.
For the last ten years, the CIA's responsibilities and budgets had been decimated. It was a disastrous development, for the firestorms that were popping up across the world now often involved fanatical minds accountable to no political body and possessing the capability to obtain weapons of mass destruction. And while just about everyone thought high-tech was the answer for all the ills of the world, the best satellites in the world couldn't stroll down alleys in Baghdad, Seoul or Belgrade and take the emotional temperature of the people there. Computers in space could never capture what people were thinking, what devilish urges were lurking in their hearts. Thornhill would always choose a smart field operative willing to risk his or her life over the best hardware money could buy.
Thornhill had just such a small group of skilled operatives within the CIA, completely loyal to him and his private agenda. They had all worked hard to regain for the Agency its former prominence. Now Thornhill finally had the vehicle to do that. He would very soon have under his thumb powerful congressmen, senators, even the vice president himself, and enough high-ranking bureaucrats to choke an independent counsel. Thornhill would see his budgets revive, his manpower skyrocket, his agency's scope of responsibility in the world return to its rightful place.
The strategy had worked for J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. It was no coincidence, Thornhill believed, that the Bureau's budget and influence had flourished under the late director and his allegedly "secret" files on powerful politicians. If there was one organization in the world that Robert Thornhill hated with all his soul, it was the FBI. But he would use whatever tactics he could to bring his agency back to the forefront, even if it meant stealing a page from his most bitter foe. Well, watch me do you one better, Ed.
Thornhill focused again on the men clustered around him. "Not having to kill one of our own would, of course, be ideal," he said. "However, the fact is, the FBI have her under 'round-the-clock stealth security. The only time she's truly vulnerable is when she goes to the cottage. They may place her in Witness Protection without warning, so we have to hit them at the cottage."
Another man spoke up. "Okay, we kill Lockhart, but let the FBI agent live, for God's sake, Bob."
Thornhill shook his head. "The risk is too great. I know that killing a fellow agent is deplorable. But to shirk our duty now would be a catastrophic mistake. You know what we've invested in this operation. We cannot fail."
"Dammit, Bob," the first man to protest said, "do you know what will happen if the FBI learns we took out one of their people?"
"If we can't keep a secret like that, we have no business doing what we do," Thornhill snapped. "This is not the first time lives have been sacrificed."
Another member of the group leaned forward in his chair. He was the youngest of them. He had, however, earned the respect of the group with his intelligence and his ability to exercise extreme, focused ruthlessness.
"We've only really looked at the scenario of killing Lockhart to forestall the FBI's investigation into Buchanan. Why not appeal to the FBI director and have him order his team to give up the investigation? Then no one has to die."
Thornhill gave his younger colleague a disappointed look. "And how would you propose going about explaining to the FBI director why we wish him to do so?"
"How about some semblance of the truth?" the younger man said. "Even in the intelligence business there's sometimes room for that, isn't there?"
Thornhill smiled warmly. "So I should say to the FBI director-who, by the way, would love to see us all permanently interred in a museum-that we wish him to call off his potentially blockbuster investigation so that the CIA can use illegal means to trump his agency. Brilliant. Why didn't I think of that? And where would you like to serve your prison term?"
"For chrissakes, Bob, we work with the FBI now. This isn't 1960 anymore. Don't forget about CTC."
CTC stood for the Counter Terrorism Center, a cooperative effort between the CIA and the FBI to fight terrorism by sharing intelligence and resources. It had been generally deemed a success by those involved. To Thornhill, it was simply another way for the FBI to stick its greedy fingers into his business.
"I happen to be involved in CTC in a modest way," Thornhill said. "I find it an ideal perch on which to keep tabs on the Bureau and what they're up to, which is usually no good, as far as we're concerned."
"Come on, we're all on the same team, Bob."
Thornhill's eyes focused on the younger man in such a way that everyone in the room froze. "I request that you never say those words in my presence again," Thornhill said.
The man paled and sat back in his chair.
Thornhill clenched his pipe between his teeth. "Would you like me to give you concrete examples of the FBI taking the credit, the glory for work done by our agency? For the blood spilled by our field agents? For the countless times we've saved the world from annihilation? How they manipulate investigations in order to crush everyone else, to beef up their already bloated budget? Would you like me to give you instances in my thirty-six-year career where the FBI did all it could to discredit our mission, our people? Would you?" The man slowly shook his head as Thornhill's gaze bored into him. "I don't give a damn if the FBI director himself came down here and kissed my shoes and swore his undying allegiance to me-I will not be swayed. Ever! Have I made my position clear?"
"I understand." As he said this, the younger man managed not to shake his head in bewilderment. Everyone in this room other than Robert Thornhill knew that the FBI and CIA actually got along well. Though they could be ham-handed at times in joint investigations because they had more resources than anyone else, the FBI was not on a witch hunt to bring down the Agency.
But the men in this room also understood quite clearly that Robert Thornhill believed the FBI was their worst enemy. And they also knew that Thornhill had, decades ago, orchestrated a number of Agency-authorized assassinations with cunning and zeal. Why cross such a man?
Another colleague said, "But if we kill the agent, don't you think the FBI will go on a crusade to find out the truth? They have the resources to scorch the earth. No matter how good we are, we can't match their strength. Then where are we?"
Some grumbling rose from the others. Thornhill looked around warily. The collection of men here represented an uneasy alliance. They were paranoid, inscrutable fellows long used to keeping their own counsel. It had truly been a miracle to forge them together in the first place.
"The FBI will do everything they can to solve the murder of one of their agents and the chief witness to one of their most ambitious investigations ever. So what I would propose doing is to give them the solution we desire them to have." They looked curiously at him. Thornhill sipped water from his glass and then took a minute to prime his pipe.
"After years of helping Buchanan run his operation, Faith Lockhart's conscience or good sense or paranoia got the better of her. She went to the FBI and has now begun telling them everything she knows. Through a little foresight on my part, we were able to discover this development. Buchanan, however, is completely unaware that his partner has turned against him. He also doesn't know that we intend to kill her. Only we know." Thornhill inwardly congratulated himself for this last remark. It felt good, omniscience; it was the business he was in, after all.
"The FBI, however, may suspect that he does know about her betrayal or may find out at some point. Thus, to the outside observer, no one in the world has greater motivation to kill Faith Lockhart than Danny Buchanan."
"And your point?" the questioner persisted.
"My point," said Thornhill tersely, "is quite simple. Instead of allowing Buchanan to disappear, we tip off the FBI that he and his clients discovered Lockhart's duplicity and had her and the agent murdered."
"But once they get hold of Buchanan, he'll tell them everything," the man quickly responded.
Thornhill looked at him as a disappointed teacher to pupil. Over the last year, Buchanan had given them everything they needed; he was now officially expendable.
The truth slowly dawned on the group. "So we tip the FBI about Buchanan posthumously. Three deaths. Correction, three murders," another man said.
Thornhill looked around the room, silently gauging the reaction of the others to this exchange, to his plan. Despite their protestations about killing an FBI agent, he knew that three deaths meant nothing to these men. They were from the old school, which quite clearly understood that sacrifices of that nature were sometimes necessary. Certainly what they did for a living sometimes cost people their lives; however, their operations had also avoided open war. Kill three to save three million, who could possibly argue with that? Even if the victims were relatively innocent. Every soldier who ever died in battle was innocent too. Covert action, quaintly referred to as the "third option" in intelligence circles, the one between diplomacy and open war, was where the CIA could really prove its worth, Thornhill believed. Although it was also at the heart of some of the Agency's worst disasters. Well, without risk there was never the possibility for glory. That epitaph could be put on his tombstone.
No formal vote was taken by Thornhill; none was needed.
"Thank you, gentlemen," Thornhill said. "I'll take care of everything." He adjourned the meeting.
(c) 1999 by David Baldacci "

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.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Northern Virginia
Date of Birth:
August 5, 1960
Place of Birth:
Richmond, VIrginia
Education:
B.A. in Political Science, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1982; J.D., University of Virginia, 1986
Website:
http://www.david-baldacci.com/

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Saving Faith 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 102 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is ok. It's not spectacular, but it's not boring. It reads fast and is a good story with a nice twist at the end. You won't be blown away, but you will enjoy this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was starting to lose interest in Baldacci's predicatble novels until this one came along. Loved the characters and the plot line. Might be his best since Absolute Power.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It takes reading about one-third of this book to really get into the story, but then it takes off. This legal-political thriller has some interesting plot twists, but sometimes too much detailed description that really draws things out in the beginning. The reader's patience is eventually rewarded as Baldacci spins an entertaining tale of suspense.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Spoilers follow . . . what a terrible novel! The plot is amateurish at best while the character development leaves much to be desired. First of all, the near-rape scene is understandable considering the reasoning Baldacci provided for Lee's anger; however, this doesn't dismiss the twisted turn the plot suddenly takes as Faith and Lee consummate their love the very next day. Unless these characters originate from mental institutions the entire story is highly unbelievable. Faith escapes death multiple times somehow -- including one instance where a pistol is conveniently moved in front of her to deflect a high powered rifle shot. What else is there to say? The plot comes to a sputtering end as Faith is left emaciated as she and Lee drive off into the sunset with Reynolds tailing them. With a plot worse than Joe Millionaire, I wouldn't even recommend this novel to my former 9th grade english teacher whom I despise.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I came accross Saving Faith by accident, and enjoyed the read. The plot twists kept the book interesting, as did the focus on Washington detail. The real weakness is the love story between Faith and Lee. How blue eyes, one night of sex and a near rape can constitute true love I don't know.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Saving Faith kept me on the edge of my seat, a very difficult book to put down. Baldacci set a good base for the story, then gradually brought it to the heights. I enjoyed it immensely!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book would have been excellent if it didn't take so long to take off. At 500 pages in length, I started to actually enjoy reading it around page 275. The characters get confusing in the beginning but they start to thin out as the book progresses. The book had a movie script plot but was still enjoyable!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel takes a few chapters to get into. But it is well worth it. The main character is good and it gets really action-packed at the end. A really good read. Recommended
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I normally love Baldacci but this was not his normal work or quality. I trudged through it, and only the last 25 pages or so were worth it. Definitely would not recommend.
Mary Anne Cooper More than 1 year ago
A great read. Love his books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
funnylady More than 1 year ago
I like David Baldacci, but for some reason this one really didn't capture my attenion too much. The title says exactly what it means.
sharon1JT More than 1 year ago
I read this book when it first came out and saved it to read again. I just reread it and don't know why I wanted to. This time around, I found it to be redundant and rather boring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite David Baldacci once again brings readers a thriller; Saving Faith is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats, quickly turning pages to see what will happen next. In this tale, Faith Lockhart is depicted as an intelligent and beautiful woman; the assistant to a lobbyist. She is ready to blow the whistle on some things and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Robert Thornhill, cannot allow that to happen. Just as the assassin takes aim, private investigator Lee Adams comes to the rescue. Thus begins the long and dangerous trek, taking readers from Maryland to North Carolina and back to Washington. The couple end up on the run from the police, FBI and the CIA. Saving Faith by David Baldacci is a very good read. I would not rate it as his best book, but it is an exciting read. Baldacci is at his best when he is bringing his readers tales dealing with the government. Saving Faith has a very complex plot and it is very difficult to summarize it. This is not a short tale at 476 pages. There is the inevitable romance between Lee and Faith. This tale drags in several places and the plot fell on too much background. While this may not be Baldacci at his best, it is still a good read with a peek inside the workings of the FBI and CIA. This is a review of the audio format read by Michael Kramer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some paragraphs turn up in huge type - distracting but not the author's fault. I like the characters.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the story, but did not think it was as good as some of his other works.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a very interesting book. My original copy was lost so I resorted to getting it online. It was well worth getting it too!
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