Saturday, November 22, 2008

David Baldacci: Divine Justice

I started David Baldacci’s Divine Justice, and six pages into it I felt like I was missing important background. Well, duh! It picks it seconds after Stone Cold ends. We literally start with the first breath Oliver Stone takes following the end of the last book. So it’s going to be hard to say very much without spoiling the last book. I went back and re-read the whole series from the beginning.

I think it is fair to say that Oliver Stone has problems – perhaps more than even he can handle. But he does not want to drag his friends down with him, so he leaves the Camel Club behind and goes on the run by himself. Ultimately he ends up in the small coal-mining town of Divine, Virginia. (Hence the title of the book.) He gets involved with some interesting characters in Divine, and discovers that something sinister seems to be going on. He is drawn into the mystery and the corresponding dangers.

Baldacci excels at intertwining multiple story lines. So we meet Joe Knox, an expert at finding people for the government. He is tasked to find Oliver, but is pretty sure that when he does, General Macklin Hayes will send in a new team that will not bring Oliver to trial. And Hayes is so ruthless, Knox is more afraid of him than he is of the man he is tracking.

Oliver’s friends in the Camel Club are determined to help, regardless of his wishes. They don’t know how to find him, so instead they start to follow Joe Knox. Annabelle pulls off some delightful little scams, Reuben is his normal big, intimidating self, and Caleb shows some surprising talent as a wheel man. Everyone is pretty sure that Oliver has committed some serious crimes. Most of his friends don’t care, but Alex Ford is torn between his friendship and his sworn duties as a law officer (Secret Service).

As always, Baldacci’s multiple story lines mesh well. His new characters are either good fits with the Camel Club, or really nasty folks. His returning characters continue to develop in rational and satisfying ways.

Divine Justice is a delightful continuation (maybe conclusion) of the Oliver Stone series. I just loved it. Baldacci has done a really good job ending each volume at a clean and satisfying point. So you can stop reading at any point. (Why would you want to?) But the books do not start cleanly. So for heaven’s sakes, start at the beginning! Otherwise you will never really know who all these people are, and what’s going on.

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