Saturday, November 15, 2008

David Baldacci: The Collectors

The Collectors by David Baldacci is the second Oliver Stone novel. He is still the leader of the Camel Club, a group of conspiracy theorists. And they are all still about as quirky as before. This book includes memories back to the first book, The Camel Club. Those memories add richness to the characters, but are not critical to the plot. So it would be OK to read this book without first reading The Camel Club. On the other hand, why not start at the beginning?

In The Collectors we get to know Caleb Shaw much better. A lot of the plot takes place at the Library of Congress, where Caleb works in the Rare Books reading room. Jonathon DeHaven is (or was) the Director of the Rare Books and Special Collections Division, and Caleb’s boss. Caleb finds his body in one of the vaults, and the story is on. As a book lover, I enjoy seeing the Library of Congress worked into a thriller. As the son of a librarian, I’m pleased to say that no rare books are seriously damaged in the development of the plot.

A parallel story line introduces a new character, Annabelle Conroy. She is an expert con artist setting up “two shorts and a long”. We watch as she recruits a team, and runs two short cons to raise funds for a big score. The target of the long con is Jerry Bagger, the extremely dangerous and nasty owner of an Atlantic City casino. Annabelle is trying to take Bagger for enough money to hurt. But what she really wants is revenge for Bagger’s killing her mother years ago.

The con artist story is a great story. Then it gets better as Baldacci draws Annabelle into the Oliver Stone story, as US secrets are being sold, and bodies are dropping. It is interesting to see how much Annabelle and Oliver have in common, one as a con artist, one as a former government operative. They keep impressing one another, but are also reluctant to reveal their pasts.

Alex Ford, Oliver’s Secret Service friend comes back for a small, but critical role in this story. Baldacci spins a complex plot for Oliver and his friends to navigate, or perhaps more accurately, to try to survive.

The Collectors comes to a solid, satisfying conclusion to the main plot lines. In other words, we are not left dangling waiting for the next volume. So the book can stand on it’s own. But there is still an unresolved issue. As it turns out, it is prominent in the next book, Stone Cold.

I had planned to take a break from Oliver and his friends by reading new ones from Le CarrĂ© and Silva, but I can’t.


Nathalie said...

Hi Nate,

I've had The Collectors on a shelf for a while, but now it'll be the next book I read! I'm currently reading The Winning, it's really good and Jackson really is a perfect bad guy!


Nate Bradley said...

Baldacci's bad guys really can be pretty nasty. And yes, Jackson is a good example of that.

If you are enjoying The Winner, I'm confident you will like The Collectors. If you happen to have The Camel Club, you might want to read it first. But definitely read The Collectors before Stone Cold or Divine Justice.

Thanks for the comment. It's nice to know that someone besides my brother sometimes reads this.


Nathalie said...

No I don't have The Camel Club. I think one of my friends does...

Oh well, then you have another fan now besides your brother ;o)