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.
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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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