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Adventure In Reading - David Baldacci - Simple Genius
The Author And The Book
David Baldacci was born in 1960 in Virginia, attended school there, and became a lawyer. He practiced law for 9 years and while working as a lawyer wrote and published his first book. Since that first book in 1996, he has written and published more than 30 novels for adults and 5 books for children. He wrote a screenplay that was made into a movie in southwest Virginia and he was a consulting producer to TNT television for the series King & Maxwell.
This book was published in 2007. It is the third book in the King and Maxwell series. There are just over 400 pages.
Michelle Maxwell is incapacitated at the beginning of the book because of some unrecognized personal problems. Sean King steps in and provides the financial resource for her care. The care to the dismay of Michelle eventually leads to psychiatric help.
Because of the major expense, Sean takes a job with a woman with whom he had a prior relationship. The job requires his presence at a research facility in Virginia which is located across the York River from a secret government facility. His job is to investigate and determine if a death that occurred there was a suicide as announced or the result of some nefarious activity.
No one at the site of the dead person's work environment is willing to discuss any aspect not only of the death but of the work being done at the facility. Gradually Sean keeps pecking away at the structure and the secrecy discovering good leads and false leads. This results in his chasing unrelated bits of information as well as relevant ones. The relevant ones lead to his life being put into danger and to his receiving threats from the apparent bad guys.
Meanwhile, Michelle is making progress in the psychiatric institution but has a major upheaval where she is instrumental in revealing a criminal activity and she feels it is best for her if she leaves the facility. Her statements are that she is cured and ready to go to work. Because she feels that way she checks herself out of the facility and proceeds to Virginia to assist her partner, Sean.
Together they begin to unravel the mystery surrounding the death they have been sent to investigate as well as murders that occur after they arrive. Several twists and turns occur in the plot but eventually resolution occurs.
Michelle Maxwell starts out the book in a bar in Washington, DC. She drinks until she decides to attack the largest meanest looking man in the bar. She begins to use her skills to pulverize the man and then, suddenly, she becomes defenseless and is nearly beaten to death before the police arrive and intervene. She is hospitalized while under arrest and is saved from incarceration by her partner Sean Maxwell. He pays off the hospital and the initial victim of the attack.
To recoup the monies he had to pay out, he takes a job with a woman with whom he had a former relationship. He keeps the job a secret from his hospitalized partner because of the animosity between the two women. When the partner's physical problems are taken care of, Sean is instrumental in getting her admitted to a psychiatric institution where he has a knowledgeable friend working. Michelle begins receiving the care she needs while Sean is off to Virginia to work on the case for which he is being paid.
While hospitalized, Michelle uncovers a drug operation operating from within the facility. While her treatment is showing progress, it is not finished but the solution of the drug activity leads her to believe she can handle the real world life and that her life might be in danger if she remains in the facility. She checks herself out and leaves the facility while her doctor (Sean's friend) is investigating aspects of her case in Tennessee. She leaves the Washington area to join her partner in Virginia.
The death that had occurred at the secretive scientific facility in Virginia occurred at an ultra high security CIA site across the river from the compound where the scientific activity was taking place. It was classified a suicide but there were enough discrepancies that Sean doubted the conclusion. The person that died, Monk Turing, left an autistic child, Viggie, at the scientific facility under the care of a co worker. Difficulties occur immediately as no one wishes to discuss either the death or what activity is taking place in the scientific community. In addition, shots are fired from the high security CIA facility in an attempt to kill Sean as he wanders about the scientific facility in innocent thought.
Michelle arrives to help with the investigation much to the disappointment of Sean. He believes rightly that she has aborted her treatment. Shortly after that Sean finds a reason to ask the psychiatrist friend to visit the area ostensibly treat the autistic child but for Sean, at least, to provide continuing treatment for Michelle.
Intrigue begins to occur and Sean and Michelle find themselves in the custody of the CIA group and being tortured for information that they probably don''t have. Help arrives after a lengthy period and the solution is found.
Many of the bad guys turn out to be not quite as bad as the reader might think. Some of the good guys turn out to be a lot worse than the reader might think. Unexpected finds on the part of Sean and Michelle provide secure futures for both the autistic child and for the children of other victims at the scientific facility.
The characters while sharp in their definition change sides so dramatically from bad guy to good guy with such speed that it is difficult to keep the sides straight. Regardless, the author does a an outstanding job in driving to the solution.
I rate this book at about an 8 of 10.