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
"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.
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.
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
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.
"The action is explosive. Readers will barely have time to catch their breath."
"Great...a fast-paced thriller."
"Genuinely scary scenes...driven by tense action."