Split Second (Sean King and Michelle Maxwell Series #1)

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Overview


The world can change forever in a single...

SPLIT SECOND

Michelle Maxwell has just wrecked her promising career at the Secret Service. Against her instincts, she let a presidential candidate out of her sight for the briefest moment, and the man whose safety was her responsibility vanished into thin air. Sean King knows how the younger agent feels. Eight years earlier, the hard-charging Secret Service agent ...

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Split Second (Sean King and Michelle Maxwell Series #1)

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Overview


The world can change forever in a single...

SPLIT SECOND

Michelle Maxwell has just wrecked her promising career at the Secret Service. Against her instincts, she let a presidential candidate out of her sight for the briefest moment, and the man whose safety was her responsibility vanished into thin air. Sean King knows how the younger agent feels. Eight years earlier, the hard-charging Secret Service agent allowed his attention to be diverted for a split second. And the candidate he was protecting was gunned down before his eyes. Now Michelle and Sean are about to see their destinies converge.

Drawn into a maze of lies, secrets, and deadly coincidences, the two discredited agents uncover a shocking truth: that the separate acts of violence that shattered their lives were really a long time in the making-and are a long way from over...

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
From the bestselling author of Last Man Standing and Absolute Power comes another high-tension thriller guaranteed to get your heart hammering.

Sean King is a former Secret Service agent who, eight years ago, botched the job of protecting a presidential candidate. When he meets Michelle Maxwell, an attractive agent whose political charge has just been kidnapped, the two disgraced operatives uncover an ominous connection between the incidents. They team up, and -- as bodies begin to pile up -- they find themselves racing against the clock to prevent an assassin from striking again along the campaign trail.

A masterful craftsman, Baldacci manipulates his story line with great effectiveness, creating a sense of danger and foreboding and imbuing even secondary characters with enough depth and dimension to rescue them from stereotypes. Conspiracies and mysteries abound in this taut mystery that weaves together action-packed scenarios and solid emotional impact. If Absolute Power elevated Baldacci to the highest ranks of suspense fiction, the compulsively readable Split Second will solidify his position at the top. Tom Piccirilli

Publishers Weekly
"We just solved a huge, complicated mystery," says one protagonist to another in this latest novel from the bestselling author of Last Man Standing, Absolute Power, etc. And that is the problem: this story of two disgraced Secret Service agents who come together to solve two campaign-trail crimes doesn't play to Baldacci's strengths, which are suspense and action (as well as strong characterizations; here's one thriller author who writes people that readers care about). The novel is primarily a mystery, with lots of talk and untangling of clues, and a less than gripping one at that. It begins in 1996, when Secret Service agent Sean King is distracted-by what isn't revealed until near the book's end-just when the presidential candidate he's guarding is shot dead. Eight years later, agent Michelle Maxwell lets the candidate she's watching enter a funeral parlor room alone; he's kidnapped. Then a body appears in the office of King, who's now a successful lawyer in North Carolina. Maxwell sees King on TV and decides to look into the event that caused his disgrace, so similar to hers. Meanwhile, King's old flame, Joan Dillinger, an ex-agent whose security firm has been hired to find the kidnapped presidential candidate, hires King to help in the hunt. The narrative ties binding the characters don't loosen much over the novel's course, as curious cross-currents flow between the two cases, all leading to a cinematic but off-the-wall denouement that reveals a villain who is more cartoon than human. What saves this novel are a few strong but brief action sequences and, above all, the interplay among the principal characters, particularly the romantic tensions among King, Maxwell and Dillinger. This is, alas, Baldacci's weakest thriller in years-but with its terrific title, the Baldacci name and heavy promo, it's bound to hit the lists. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Former Secret Service Agent Sean King tries for vindication, having lost his job when the candidate he was protecting lost his life. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Two defrocked Secret Service Agents investigate the assassination of one presidential candidate and the kidnapping of another. Baldacci (The Christmas Train, 2002, etc.) sets out with two plot strands. The first begins when something distracts Secret Service Agent Sean King and during that "split second," presidential candidate Clyde Ritter is shot dead. King takes out the killer, but that's not enough to save his reputation with the Secret Service. He retires and goes on to do often tedious but nonetheless always lucrative work (much like a legal thriller such as this) at a law practice. Plot two begins eight years later when another Secret Service Agent, Michelle Maxwell, lets presidential candidate John Bruno out of her sight for a few minutes at a wake for one of his close associates. He goes missing. Now Maxwell, too, gets in dutch with the SS. Though separated by time, the cases are similar and leave several questions unanswered. What distracted King at the rally? Bruno had claimed his friend's widow called him to the funeral home. The widow (one of the few characters here to have any life) says she never called Bruno. Who set him up? Who did a chambermaid at Ritter's hotel blackmail? And who is the man in the Buick shadowing King's and Maxwell's every move? King is a handsome, rich divorce, Maxwell an attractive marathon runner. Will they join forces and find each other kind of, well, appealing? But of course. The two former agents traverse the countryside, spinning endless hypotheses before the onset, at last, of a jerrybuilt conclusion that begs credibility and offers few surprises. Assembly-line legal thriller: flat characters, lame scene-setting, and short but somehowinterminable action: a lifeless concoction. Author tour. Agent: Aaron Priest
From the Publisher
She lends an appropriate accent and inflection to the way LuAnn speaks before and after she becomes affluent. The narrator successfully manages to translate it into suspense through her speech and keeps the listener breathless with her flawless pacing and emotional pitch.
Booklist
"Pulse-pounding suspense."
People
"The action is explosive. Readers will barely have time to catch their breath."
Denver Post
"Great...a fast-paced thriller."
New York Daily News
"Genuinely scary scenes...driven by tense action."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446614450
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Series: Sean King and Michelle Maxwell Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 4.12 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

David  Baldacci
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



Split Second




By David Baldacci


Time Warner



Copyright © 2003

Columbus Rose, Ltd.
All right reserved.



ISBN: 0-446-53089-1






Chapter One


EIGHT YEARS LATER


The motorcade streamed into the tree-shaded parking lot, where it
disgorged numerous people who looked hot, tired and genuinely
unhappy. The miniature army marched toward the ugly white brick
building. The structure had been many things in its time and
currently housed a decrepit funeral home that was thriving solely
because there was no other such facility within thirty miles and the
dead, of course, had to go somewhere. Appropriately somber gentlemen
in black suits stood next to hearses of the same color. A few
bereaved trickled out the door, sobbing quietly into handkerchiefs.
An old man in a tattered suit that was too large for him and wearing
a battered, oily Stetson sat on a bench outside the front entrance,
whittling. It was just that sort of a place, rural to the hilt,
stock car racing and bluegrass ballads forever.

The old fellow looked up curiously as the procession passed by with
a tall, distinguished-looking man ceremoniously in the middle. The
elderly gent just shook his head and grinned at this spectacle,
showing the few tobacco-stained teeth he had left. Then he took a
nip of refreshment from a flask pulled from his pocket and returned
to his artful wood carving.

The woman, in her early thirties and dressed in a black pantsuit,
was in step behind the tall man. In the past her heavy pistol in the
belt holster had scraped uncomfortably against her side, causing a
scab. As a solution she'd sewn an extra layer of cloth into her
blouses at that spot and learned to live with any lingering
irritation. She'd overheard some of her men joke that all female
agents should wear double shoulder holsters because it gave them a
buxom look without expensive breast enhancement. Yes, testosterone
was alive and well in her world.

Secret Service agent Michelle Maxwell was on the extreme fast track.
She was not yet at the White House detail, guarding the president of
the United States, but she was close. Barely nine years in the
Service, and she was already a protection detail leader. Most agents
spent a decade in the field doing investigative work before even
graduating to protection detail as shift agents, yet Michelle
Maxwell was used to getting to places before other folks.

This was her big preview before almost certain reassignment to the
White House, and she was worried. This was an unscheduled stop, and
that meant no advance team and limited backup. Yet because it was a
last-minute change in plan, the plus side was no one could know they
were going to be there.

They reached the entrance, and Michelle put a firm hand on the tall
man's arm and told him to wait while they scoped things out. The
place was quiet, smelled of death and despair in quiet pockets of
misery centered on coffins in each of the viewing rooms. She posted
agents at various key points along the man's path: "giving feet" as
it was called in Service parlance. Properly done, the simple act of
having a professional with a gun and communication capability
standing in a doorway could work wonders.

She spoke into her walkie-talkie, and the tall man, John Bruno, was
brought in. She led him down the hallway as gazes from the viewing
rooms wandered to them. A politician and his entourage on the
campaign trail were like a herd of elephants: they could travel
nowhere lightly. They stomped the earth until it hurt with the
weight of the guards, chiefs of staff, spokespersons, speechwriters,
publicity folks, gofers and others. It was a spectacle that if it
didn't make you laugh would at least cause you considerable worry
about the future of the country.

John Bruno was running for the office of president of the United
States, and he had absolutely no chance of winning. Looking far
younger than his fifty-six years, he was an independent candidate
who'd used the support of a small but strident percentage of the
electorate fed up with just about everything mainstream to qualify
for each state's national ballot. Thus, he'd been given Secret
Service protection, though not at the staffing level of a bona fide
contender. It was Michelle Maxwell's job to keep him alive until the
election. She was counting the days.

Bruno was a former iron-balls prosecutor, and he'd made a great
number of enemies, only some of whom were currently behind bars. His
political planks were fairly simple. He'd tell you he wanted
government off the backs of the people and free enterprise to rule.
As for the poor and weak, those not up to the task of unfettered
competition, well, in all other species the weak died and the strong
prevailed, and why should it be any different for us? Largely
because of that position, the man had no chance of winning. Although
America loved its tough guys, they weren't ready to vote for leaders
who exhibited no compassion for the downtrodden and miserable, for
on any given day they might constitute a majority.

The trouble started when Bruno entered the room trailed by his chief
of staff, two aides, Michelle and three of her men. The widow
sitting in front of her husband's coffin looked up sharply. Michelle
couldn't see her expression through the veil the woman was wearing
but assumed her look was one of surprise at seeing this herd of
interlopers invading hallowed ground. The old woman got up and
retreated to a corner, visibly shaking.

The candidate whirled on Michelle. "He was a dear friend of mine,"
Bruno snapped, "and I am not going to parade in with an army. Get
out," he added tersely.

"I'll stay," she fired back. "Just me." He shook his head. They'd
had many such standoffs. He knew that his candidacy was a hopeless
long shot, and that just made him try even harder. The pace had been
brutal, the protection logistics a nightmare.

"No, this is private!" he growled. Bruno looked over at the
quivering woman in the corner. "My God, you're scaring her to death.
This is repugnant."

Michelle went back one more time to the well. He refused yet again,
leading them all out of the room, berating them as he did. What the
hell could happen to him in a funeral home? Was the eighty-year-old
widow going to jump him? Was the dead man going to come back to
life? Michelle sensed that her protectee was really upset because
she was costing him valuable campaign time. Yet it wasn't her idea
to come here. However, Bruno was in no mood to hear that.

No chance to win, and the man acted like he was king of the hill. Of
course, on election day the voters, including Michelle, would kick
his butt right out the door.

As a compromise Michelle asked for two minutes to sweep the room.
This was granted, and her men moved quickly to do so while she
silently fumed, telling herself that she had to save her ammo for
the really important battles.

Her men came out 120 seconds later and reported everything okay.
Only one door in and out. No windows. Old lady and dead guy the only
occupants. It was cool. Not perfect, but okay. Michelle nodded at
her candidate. Bruno could have his private face time, and then they
could get out of here.

Inside the viewing room, Bruno closed the door behind him and walked
over to the open coffin. There was another coffin against the far
wall; it was also open, but empty. The deceased's coffin was resting
on a raised platform with a white skirting that was surrounded
waist-high with an assortment of beautiful flowers. Bruno paid his
respects to the body lying there, murmuring, "So long, Bill," as he
turned to the widow, who'd returned to her chair. He knelt in front
of her, gently held one of her hands.

"I'm so sorry, Mildred, so very sorry. He was a good man." The
bereaved looked up at him from behind the veil, smiled and then
looked down again. Bruno's expression changed and he looked around,
though the only other occupant of the room was in no condition to
eavesdrop. "Now, you mentioned something else you wanted to talk
about. In private."

"Yes," the widow said in a very low voice. "I'm afraid I don't have
much time, Mildred. What is it?" In answer she placed a hand on his
cheek, and then her fingers touched his neck. Bruno grimaced as he
felt the sharp prick against his skin, and then he slipped to the
floor unconscious.

(Continues...)




Excerpted from Split Second
by David Baldacci
Copyright © 2003 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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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 380 )
Rating Distribution

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(135)

4 Star

(130)

3 Star

(65)

2 Star

(34)

1 Star

(16)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 381 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 22, 2011

    Baldacci hit a home run !

    As a retired cop I was a little hesitant to start this series about federal cops but I found this very believable and a great read.

    12 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Thrilling!

    I wasn't sure I would like this author but I am now an avid fan. Good plot, good timing and a good story. What more can you ask for?

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted June 28, 2007

    ok

    It reads incredibly fast. The ending is what just killed me. Everything was tied together in about two pages it seemed like. Plus the ending itself was surprisingly horrible. Still worth reading though I couldn't put it down till I was finished.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 15, 2009

    Good book, unpleasant reader

    Audiobook version. Scott Brick's New York accent so thick you could spread it on a bagel is annoying and irritating. He must be an unhappy man because his reading depicts the characters are very combative and not nice people in general. Wish I'd bought the abridged version with someone else reading.

    Great story though. I recommend the book, just not this audio version.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 25, 2012

    Awesome book. Baldacci is a terrific write. Exciting.

    Great story line and fast paced. If you like action. This is your book!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 21, 2011

    Great Book

    I have read all of David Balcacci's books and can say I am a fan. All of his books fall into the category of "Hard to put down". Split Second is no different.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A lot of good action

    I enjoyed the action from the start all the way to the finish. Sometimes, Balducci bestsellers are to neatly wrapped up in the end, but I enjoyed the story line and characters.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 23, 2009

    Loved the book!

    I loved this book! I used the audio book and couldn't wait to get back in my car to listen to it! I usually don't read Baldacci but this sounded so interested I decided to try it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted July 30, 2003

    Can't sleep, the book to keep your mind going through the late hours.

    I have not read any of his books where I was let down or found myself putting the book down to do something else. It is always from start to finish, don't let go, continue the reading.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted April 18, 2010

    Scott Brick stinks!

    I will never again listen to a book read my Scott Brick. He ruins every book I've ever listened to. His voice is so combative and argumentative. He must be a very unhappy person. Authors...PLEASE stop using him!!!!

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 14, 2009

    An Odd Couple - But Fun

    This introduction to the King and Maxwell series starts off in great fashion winding two tales together causing the main characters to interwine - fate is a strange mistress indeed.

    The story clips along at a good pace with some believable side characters. However, the conclusion felt rushed with even weaker character development at the end. Also, very, very predictable villian (Really, a tennis ball?).

    Baldacci has got a good duo here even if the plot development is extreme including final character revelations and plot developments that are a little disjointed from the previous even flow of the story.

    If you will just remember that anything is possible where politics are concerned, you'll have a good time with this odd couple and will be looking forward to the next installment.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted August 5, 2003

    Hooked from the First Page!

    I got my hands on an advanced copy of this one last week and just couldn't put it down! Baldacci, already recognized for several other great thrillers, has really outdone himself this time around. Excellent plot, intense thrills, awesome characters: This one will top the bestsellers in no time!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted February 15, 2013

    Highly recommend

    Great book. As usual spell binding, really enjoyed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 25, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    I started reading this because a friend recommended it. I wasn't

    I started reading this because a friend recommended it. I wasn't sure what I would think, but I got hooked within the first two chapters! 
    I would describe it as a thriller, crime, and mystery type of novel. Just when you think you got it all figured out, a twist turns it around. At the end, the pieces are put nicely together and everything becomes incredibly clear. The books becomes fast paced at moments, but not overwhelmingly so. It really puts you into the mind of the killer, as well as the main characters. They are all unique and their character developed nicely.
    The writing style is not over-bearing either. It is detailed but not to the point that skimming over becomes a habit. Instead, only the necessary details are added and clearly written.
    It is not something easily put down once started. Once you read it, you will become a fan of the series, if only to feel the rush and excitement while reading about crazy chases, gun shoot outs, and crazy clues that make your head spin (in a good way). 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2012

    I love David Baldacci's books and this one certainly lived up to

    I love David Baldacci's books and this one certainly lived up to his books' reputation. Gripping from the very first chapter, I culdn't put it down. Highly recommend!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 23, 2012

    Fast paced, & interesting, will have to add my list of serie

    Fast paced, & interesting, will have to add my list of series' to read

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2012

    Decent Read

    I mistakenly read "Simple Genius" in this series first, and absolutely loved it. Just finished this, and while I'm pleased that I now know King and Maxwell's history/beginning, I was ever so slightly disappointed in the brevity of this novel. Overall, a decent read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2012

    Hard to put down

    Good read. Lots of twists. Would recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2012

    Great book

    One of my favorite authors . Gripping story line AAA

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 19, 2012

    What a great read!

    love the King and Maxwell series. have read them before and now I am putting them on my Nook.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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