From the Publisher
Baldacci weaves the strands of his plot flawlessly, with an attention to detail and character that set this book above the normal run of Washington thriller. McLarty, the actor-author who grew up in East Providence, assists with a fine set of accents (his Irish brogue for Annabelle's father, Paddy, is particularly good) that let listeners easily distinguish among the many characters.
The author brings back Oliver Stone, with his old friends and older enemies. Baldacci's adept character development coupled with deft narration from Ron McLarty makes for an enjoyable listening experience. Once again, Baldacci creates unique parallel stories that evolve and eventually intertwine. The expert McLarty gives clear and recognizable voices to all the characters. In particular, his consistent accents for the old Russian woman and for the acerbic Irish man capture the story's emotions and help bring home the plot. A whiny rare books expert and a bitter gangster round out the colorful cast. Hidden secrets, political espionage, and personal trust all clash in this fast-paced story. M.B. © AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine [Published: APR/ MAY 08]
Baldacci may not be a literary stylist, but he really knows how to spin a yarn, and with McLarty he gets a narrator who adds emotional depth to his characters without slowing down the breathless pace of his prose. McLarty uses his distinctive, almost avuncular delivery to excellent purpose in this action-packed thriller that finds the Camel Club members attacked by three tough customers seeking revenge... Aged baritones ofer no great challenge to McLarty's talent, yet his subtle shifts are admirable, from the toughtful, slightly rough-edged Stone to the rougher-edged Bagger to Gray's sneeringly perfect locution. But his art becomes more apparent as he effectively captures the voices of Annabelle, Finn and a gallery of other characters, including a bitter elderly Russan woman and a world-weary Irish-American man, providing them all a dimension not always on the page.
The modern-day paladins of the Camel Club are back in their third exciting adventure (after 2006's The Collectors). Justice-seekers Milton, Caleb, Reuben and honorary member Alex Ford, a Secret Service agent, are led by feisty Oliver Stone, aka former CIA assassin John Carr. Their associate, Annabelle Conroy, is a slick con artist on the run after stealing $40 million from lunatic casino owner Jerry Bagger, who killed her mother. Oliver's CIA past distracts him from Annabelle's cause: his old unit, Triple 6, was responsible for the death of Raymond Solomon, branded a traitor during the Cold War, and now Solomon's son, DHS security expert Harry Finn, is picking off Triple 6 members. Oliver could be next if Carter Gray, his former boss, reveals that John Carr isn't really dead. Gripping, chilling and full of surprises, Baldacci's latest reveals the anarchy that lurks under the slick facade of corrupted governments. (Nov.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Revenge is a powerful motivator, and as a dominant theme here it makes for an enthralling thriller as Baldacci seamlessly weaves in several plots. The book revolves around the Camel Club and its head, a onetime CIA assassin, John Carr, alias Oliver Stone, whom most people believe to be dead. The handful of other club members are skilled adventuresome middle-aged eccentrics. Annabelle Conroy, an honorary club member as well as a superb con artist, has stolen $40 million from a psychopathic casino owner because years ago he'd killed her mother. The psychopathic brings his lethally warped gifts to bear in hunting Annabelle down, torturing her partner in the scheme to the point of being brain-dead. Enter the Camel Club to help out Annabelle. At the same time, a former Nave Seal who is doing contract work with Homeland Security and the Pentagon is systematically killing retired members of Oliver Stone's former CIA unit. This guy is another evil genius at his craft. Enriching this murderous stew is a former CIA director who has his own deep, lethal secrets, as well as the U.S. senator who is also a former spook and wants to be President. Reading Baldacci is like listening to a flawlessly preformed symphony. (24 Mar 2008)
Revenge is a dish best served "stone cold." In Baldacci's third novel in "The Camel Club" series-after The Camel Cluband The Collectors-Oliver Stone, aka John Carr, ex-CIA assassin, is back with his eclectic group of conspiracy theorists. Their mission is to discover the truth behind the American government's lies. This time the group is trying to protect Annabelle, an honorary group member, as she is being chased with the certainty of being killed by casino king Jerry Bagger, whom she conned out of $40 million in avenging her mother's murder. Concurrently, Harry Finn, a Homeland Security contractor, is himself out for revenge, against the people who framed and killed his father, a Cold War spy. Finn's targets include such people as ex-intelligence chief Carter Gray, senator and presidential hopeful Roger Simpson, and, if Harry discovers he's not dead, John Carr. Baldacci's intricately woven plotlines, well-developed characters, fast-paced action, and surprise ending will leave readers satisfied and wanting more. A sequel worthy of its predecessors; highly recommended for all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ7/07.]
Susan O. Moritz
School Library Journal
Oliver Stone and the members of his justiceseeking Camel Club once again try to expose government corruption. Someone is murdering Oliver's former colleagues in Triple 6, the U.S. government's covert assassination team, and Oliver is next on the killer's list. Harry Finn, the murderer, a seemingly ordinary family man, is the son of an American spy who was "eliminated" by John Carr, a.k.a. Oliver Stone. Harry is obsessed with avenging his father's death; he and his mother, a former Russian spy, confront John with the murder he committed many years ago. Baldacci adds to the suspense by including a subplot involving Annabelle Conroy, an accomplished con artist who has swindled violent casino magnate Jerry Bagger out of $40 million because Jerry murdered her mother. Jerry wants revenge. The plots and characters are intertwined, and the book has a surprise ending. Ron McLarty does an excellent job of capturing the personalities and accents of the various characters. Recommended for the mystery/thriller collection of public libraries, especially those whose patrons are Baldacci fans. [Hachette Audio also has a version of Stone Cold: 9 CDs. unabridged. 10½ hrs. 2007. [ISBN 978-1-60024-052-2. $49.98.—Ed.]—Ilka Gordon, Park Synagogue Lib., Pepper Pike, OH
Baldacci's recurring Camel Club uses its special talents to help a scam artist in distress. Beautiful, brainy con woman Annabelle Conroy, who took megamobster Jerry Bagger for $40 million in Baldacci's The Collectors (2006), is still in hot water. Bagger, quite understandably, wants his money back. He also wants to tear Annabelle apart, piece by piece, limb by limb. He will stop at nothing to work through that list of tasks. Annabelle, feeling the heat of Bagger's wrath radiating from his Atlantic City casino, drops in on old acquaintance "Oliver Stone" in Washington. Annabelle's not exactly asking for help from the ex-CIA hit man, but she's open to suggestions. While Stone, who used to be John Carr when he was in the government's employ, works out a plan that will utilize the oddly skilled circle of friends that comprise the Camel Club, mild-mannered suburban dad Harry Finn is working through his own task list. He's carrying out the serial execution of the squad of CIA assassins who staged Harry's father's fake suicide years ago. He thinks he's more than halfway done because one of the killers on the list is John Carr, who is supposedly buried in Arlington Cemetery. Finn's day job is testing security measures, mostly for Homeland Security, a career that puts him in cargo holds with fake bombs and allows him to bypass all the anti-terror nonsense we regular mortals endure at the airport. Those singular professional skills give him an edge with his murderous task, a job in which he is egged on by his mysterious mum. The two plots merge when Stone figures out what Harry is up to and why. It all has to do with the evil scheming of the former head of the CIA and a Southern senator whobelieves he would make a dandy president. Baldacci (Simple Genius, 2007, etc.) can do this stuff in his sleep now, but it's still entertaining enough.
The action is explosive. Readers will barely have time to catch their breath.
Associated Press Staff
"Baldacci does an excellent job of setting the scene and creating complex characters. (A) gripping page turner."
New York Daily News
"He's hit the jackpot again...Baldacci pushes the pace pedal to the floor and takes the turns on two wheels."
New York Times Books Review
"Baldacci brings an insider's savvy to his tale."
"The action is explosive. Readers will barely have time to catch their breath."
Read an Excerpt
By David Baldacci
Grand Central Publishing Copyright © 2007 Columbus Rose, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter One 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. Its official name had been changed to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, but to the locals it would be forever simply National. Finn parked in one of the lots near the main terminal building, whose chief architectural feature was a series of connected domes copied from Thomas Jefferson's beloved Monticello. Bag in hand, he trudged across a skywalk into the sleek interior of the airport. Inside a restroom stall he opened his duffel, pulled on a heavy blue jacket with reflective stripes on the sleeves and a pair of blue workpants, slid a pair of orange noise mufflers around his neck and clipped the official-looking ID badge onto his jacket.
Employing a standard turnstile crash maneuver, he inserted himself into a herd of airport employees trekking through a "special" security line. Ironically, this line lacked even the cursory level of scrutiny forced on ordinary passengers. Once on the other side of the barrier he bought a cup of coffee and casually followed another airport worker through a secure door to the tarmac area. The man actually held the door open for him.
"What shift you working?" Finn asked the man, who told him.
"I'm just coming on," Finn said. "Which would be okay if I hadn't stayed up for the damn football game."
"Tell me about it," the man agreed.
Finn skittered down the metal steps and walked over to a 737 that was being prepped for a short-haul flight to Detroit with continuing ser vice to Seattle. He passed several people along the way, including a fuel man, two baggage loaders and a mechanic inspecting the wheels of the Michigan-bound plane. No one confronted him because he looked and acted as though he had every right to be there. He made his way around the aircraft as he finished his coffee.
He next walked over to an Airbus A320 that would be on its way to Florida in about an hour. A baggage train was parked next to it. In one practiced motion, Finn pulled the small package from his jacket and slipped it into a side pocket of one of the bags stacked on the train. Then he knelt next to the plane's rear wheels and pretended to check out its tire tread. Again, people around him took no notice because Harry Finn exuded an air of a man perfectly at home in his surroundings. A minute later he was chatting up one of the ground crew, analyzing the prospects of the Washington Redskins and the deplorable state of employment for those toiling in the aviation industry.
"Everyone except the head honchos," Finn said. "Those bastards are printing money."
"You got that right," the other man said, and the two did a little knuckle smack to seal their solemn agreement on the disgusting greed of the rich and the ruthless who ruled the not-so-friendly skies.
Finn noted that the rear cargo hatch of the Detroit flight was now open. He waited until the handlers left with their train of luggage carts to fetch the bags and then climbed up on the lift parked there. He slipped into the cargo hold and inserted himself into his hiding place. He'd already picked it by studying interior cargo schematics of the 737 series, which were readily available if one knew where to look, and Finn clearly did. He'd also learned from open source research on the Internet that this plane was only going to be half full so his added weight in the rear would not be an issue.
While he lay curled in his hiding place the plane was loaded with fat bags and stressed passengers, and then it was wheels up to Detroit. Finn rode comfortably in the pressurized cargo hold, although it was a bit cooler here than in the main cabin and he was glad of the thick jacket he wore. About an hour after takeoff the plane landed and taxied to the gate. The cargo door was opened a few minutes later and the baggage offloaded. Finn patiently waited for a bit after the last bag was removed before he came out of concealment and peered through the open aft door. There were people around, but none looking his way. He climbed off the plane and dropped to the tarmac. A minute later he noticed a pair of security officers heading in his direction, sipping coffee and gabbing. He reached in his pocket, pulled out a lunch bag, took out a ham sandwich and began eating it as he walked away from the plane.
When the two guards passed him he nodded. "You regular coffee drinkers or is that half-caf caramel latte with a twist and four shots of who the hell knows what?" He grinned with his mouth full of ham sandwich. The two cops chuckled at his remark as he walked off.
He entered the terminal, went to a restroom, took off his jacket, ear mufflers and ID badge, made a quick phone call and marched to the airport security office.
"I put a bomb in a bag that was loaded onto an A320 at National Airport this morning," he explained to the officer on duty. "And I just rode in the cargo hold of a 737 from D.C. I could've downed the plane anytime I wanted."
The stunned officer was not wearing his weapon, so he leaped over the desk to tackle him. Finn neatly sidestepped this attack, and the fellow sprawled on the floor screaming for help. Other officers poured out of the back room and advanced on Finn, guns drawn. Yet Finn had pulled out his credentialing letter before the pistols had even appeared.
At that instant the door to the office flew open and three men strode in, their federal badges held high like the scepters of kings.
"Homeland Security," one of the men barked at the guards. He pointed at Harry Finn. "This man works for us. And somebody's in a shitload of trouble."
Excerpted from Stone Cold by David Baldacci Copyright © 2007 by Columbus Rose, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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