Saturday, July 30, 2011


Fairhaven by Ken Coffman

A serial killer runs around Skagit County in Washington State. Former police officer Jake Mosby is retired...and wants to lead a quiet, simple life. But, he's stuck with an ornery teen-ager and a new girlfriend and he needs to man up for one last mission.

by Ken Coffman
Copyright ©October 4, 2011 by Ken Coffman
Published by Stairway Press

My Review

Jake Mosby, ex-police officer, is 66 years old and done with life. But life isn’t done with him. Through the deaths of his father and step-mother, he inherits a used book store and a car and through his daughter, guardianship of his grandson. Not at all what he’s looking for, but he adjusts and figures he’ll keep his life going for a while longer.

Then Eleanor Bradley, a lady from the Peaceful Meadows Nursing Home, comes to him with a problem. She believes an employee at the home, Charlie Fairhaven, is killing residents. Can Jake put a stop to Charlie?

Jake agrees to look into the situation and in the process, discovers something disturbing about his own father’s death. Now Jake won’t stop digging until Charlie Fairhaven is stopped, one way or the other.

This story has two great characters, Jake Mosby and Charlie Fairhaven. Jake is a love-him-or-hate-him type of character and at times I loved him and at times I hated him. For a sweet old curmudgeon, he can be a real bastard when he wants to be. But he’s good at what he does and gets the job done, even if he doesn’t want to be doing it.

Charlie Fairhaven…now there’s an interesting character. His killing roots run deep, and at first they’re pretty textbook, but then they escalate quickly and even he knows that there’s only one way to stop him.

As for the story itself, the plot is a good one, but the telling of the story falls short. Some of the situations seem perfectly plausible while others are implausible…there’s a sub-plot about an internal investigation that has nothing to do with the main plot, so why is it in the story at all? And when Charlie’s life starts to go out of control, it goes in a direction that makes no sense at all. It almost seems like it goes in “this” direction for the sole purpose of introducing us to “these” people who help bring about the end of the drama and there was no other way to bring about that end except through “these” people who we wouldn’t have met if Charlie hadn’t gone in “this” direction. If that didn’t make sense to you, then neither would that particular twist in the story.

In summary, Fairhaven feels like the third or fourth draft of a novel and needs just one more rewrite and a new title to get everything just right. It’s almost a very good story.

I give this story TWO STARS.

I received an Advance Uncorrected Proof from NetGalley. This story is due to be released October 4, 2011 by Stairway Press and can be purchased through their website.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Simple Genius

Simple Genius by David Baldacci

In a world of secrets, human genius is power.

And sometimes it is simply deadly...

A three-hour drive from Washington, D.C., two clandestine institutions face each other across a heavily guarded river. One is the world's most unusual laboratory, whose goals and funding are a mystery. The other is an elite CIA training camp shrouded in secrecy. Now a man and a woman are about to run a gauntlet between these two puzzle factories, straight into a furious struggle to exploit a potentially world-shattering discovery--and keep some other secrets underwraps forever...

Former secret service agents turned private investigators Sean King and Michelle Maxwell have seen their lives splinter around them. Michelle lies unconscious in a hospital bed after a night of suicidal violence. And Sean is forced to take on a thankless investigation into the murder of a scientist just inside the CIA's razor-wire fence near Williamsburg, Virginia.

Soon he is uncovering layer after layer of disinformation that shields a stunning world filled with elite mathematics, physicists, war heroes, spies, and deadly field agents. Amid more murder, a seemingly autistic girl's extraordinary genius, and a powerful breakthrough in the realm of classified codes, Sean soon learns enough to put his life at risk. Now more than ever, he needs Michelle--at her best--to help stop a conspiracy of traitors operating in the shadow of the White House itself.

From Michelle's courageous struggle to defeat her long-buried personal demons to a
centuries-old secret that surfaces in the heat of action, SIMPLE GENIUS pulses with stunning, high-intensity suspense.

--Simple Genius by David Baldacci, Copyright ©2007 by David Baldacci, published by Warner Books

My Review

At the start of this book, our old friends, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell have relocated to Northern Virginia, figuring that location would have more opportunities for their services than Wrightsburg. The market may be large, but so is the competition, and Michelle is not faring well. She sinks into a depression that hits its nadir when she instigates a bar brawl with someone who very nearly kills her. Michelle needs help, and Sean knows the perfect psychiatrist for the job, Dr. Horatio Barnes. After talking to Michelle, Horatio recommends she have in-patient treatment at a clinic he recommends. That kind of therapy doesn’t come free, however, and Sean must find the money to pay for her treatment. Once again, Sean knows just where to turn.

Joan Dillinger (of Split Second and Hour Game) agrees to hire him for a job. A man named Monk Turing was found dead under suspicious circumstances and his bosses want to know exactly what happened to him. Sean takes the assignment and heads to southern Virginia, to a place called Babbage Town, a kind of “think tank” for the super intelligent.

It doesn’t take Sean long to start digging and in doing so, get himself in trouble on more than one front. Babbage Town is located across the York River from Camp Peary, a super-secret CIA facility. It’s also where Monk Turing’s body was found. What was Turing doing on restricted CIA grounds? Sean wants to look around Camp Peary, but can’t set foot on the grounds without getting arrested. Turing’s daughter, Vigenére, is super intelligent in her own right and obviously knows more than she’s letting on, but like all intelligent children, has a hard time communicating simply. Everywhere Sean turns, he runs into one roadblock after another and the body count is starting to rise.

Michelle, meanwhile, is getting into plenty of trouble on her own. Horatio is convinced something in her childhood changed her personality at age six and despite her resistance, he’s going to help her uncover the memories. Before he can do so, Michelle manages to uncover a drug ring operating at the mental health facility and has the parties arrested. Thinking herself cured, she checks herself out of the facility and joins Sean in Babbage Town.

Sean is glad to have Michelle by his side again, but is still worried about her. He asks Horatio to join them, in part to help Viggie Turing, and in part to keep an eye on Michelle. As the two of them dig, they uncover more mysteries and conspiracies surrounding Babbage Town and Camp Peary, the cost of which may be too high for anyone to pay.

I have to admit, this story was a struggle to read at the beginning and didn’t get much better as it went on. The interweaving plot lines make for a very tidy mesh, but the design is complicated and at times difficult to decipher.

I didn’t care for the way this story started—Michelle going into a seedy bar with a death wish—because it touches into the darkness of a broken mind and broken mind is somewhere I really don’t like to go.

(And to think, in high school, I wanted to go into psychiatry…)

But as it turns out, it was Michelle and her problems that kept me going through this story to its conclusion. Otherwise, I might not have bothered to finish it.

A real “kitchen sink” mystery, Baldacci throws everything into this story, including the kitchen sink. Perhaps if he had simplified the plot, it would have made for an easier read. There is such a thing as being too detailed, too complicated and too crazy and this story fit that mold. However, it all played out in such a plausible, realistic manner that anything simpler might have been cheating.

I give this story FOUR STARS.

My enjoyment of the story says to give it three stars, but the intricate design of the plot and the way it played out deserves four stars, so that’s what I went with.

Judging by the reader reviews posted on, if you really love David Baldacci and the Sean King/Michelle Maxwell series, you’ll enjoy this book. If you’re so-so on it or haven’t read the previous books in the series, you might not like it. In fact, I highly recommend reading the previous two books before touching this one.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Keeper of Lost Causes

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Carl Mørck used to be a good homicide detective—one of Copenhagen's best. Then a bullet almost took his life. Two of his colleagues weren't so lucky, and Carl, who didn't draw his weapon, blames himself.

So a promotion is the last thing Carl expects.

But it all becomes clear when he sees his new office in the basement. Carl's been selected to run Department Q, a new special investigations division that turns out to be a department of one. With a stack of Copenhagen's coldest cases to keep him company, Carl's been put out to pasture. So he's as surprised as anyone when a case actually captures his interest. A missing politician vanished without a trace five years earlier. The world assumes she's dead. His colleagues snicker about the time he's wasting. But Carl may have the last laugh, and redeem himself in the process.

Because she isn't dead . . . yet.

--The Keeper of Lost Causes
by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Translated by Tiina Nunnally
Copyright ©August 23, 2011 by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Published Penguin Group (USA)

My Review

Carl Mørck, criminal investigator for the Copenhagen police is returning to work after surviving an ambush that killed one member of his team and paralyzed the other. He’s a gruff man and not popular with his co-workers, to the extent that no one wants to partner up with him. Desiring to get rid of him, or at least put him somewhere where he won’t have much interaction with anyone else, his bosses make him the new head of “Department Q,” a cold-case squad with emphasis on cases that are of “particular interest to the public welfare.” Carl is not happy with his new position, but settles into the offices of Department Q…located in the basement…with his new assistant, Hafez el-Assad.

Sorting through the stack of cases, Carl’s not much interested in any of them, but he keeps coming back to one. Merete Lynggard, vice-chairperson for the Social Democrats in the Folketing (the Danish Parliament), disappeared five years ago while riding the ferry from Rødby, Denmark to Puttgarden, Germany. It was assumed she either fell or jumped overboard as her body had never been found. She was declared legally dead and her handicapped brother was made a ward of the state. It seems pretty cut-and-dried, and he knew he should move on to a different case, but there’s something about this one that keeps nagging at him.

So he starts digging. Assad, though not trained in police investigation, proves to have valuable insight and asks just the right questions to keep Carl moving forward. Everyone believes Merete is dead. So does Carl. But as he digs into a plot of revenge rooted deeply in a disturb mind, he begins to wonder if Merete is still alive. And if she is, can he find her before the ones responsible for her disappearance extract their final revenge?

You know a story’s got you when you’re about three-fourths of the way through and you find yourself dreaming of possible endings and losing sleep over them. Yeah, I did that.

The story moves back and forth between Carl’s investigation in the present and Merete’s life starting shortly before her abduction in 2002. As Carl’s investigation moves forward, Merete’s life in her prison is fast-forwarded until the two timelines converge.

Carl Mønck is a wonderful character, full of flaws and angst and yet you can’t help but pull for him as he works his way through this mystery and tries to sort out his life. He’s separated from his wife, Vigga, and lives with his step-son and a tenant. He has unresolved emotions regarding the ambush that resulted in the death of one member of his team and the paralyzing of another and his own inability to react the way he feels he should have in the situation. Plus he’s dealing with the political games his department heads are playing and trying to figure out how he can best benefit from their maneuvers. And then there’s Carl’s mysterious assistant, Assad. The man definitely has a past, something Carl attempts to get out of Assad without success. But for a man who’s able to solve a five-year-old cold case, finding out exactly why Assad had to leave Syria for Denmark should be no trouble...but that's a story line for another book (I hope).

This is the American release of Jussi Adler-Olsen’s 2007 best-selling novel, Kvinden i buret (Woman in a Cage). It was released in the UK as Mercy and will be released here in the US as The Keeper of Lost Causes.

(Can someone in the publishing industry please clue me in as to why foreign author’s books are constantly being renamed whenever they’re released to a new market?)

This is the first book in the Department Q series. The second and third, Fasandræberne/The Pheasant Killers, and Flaskepost fra P/Message in a Bottle have been published in Denmark and, hopefully, will be available to the English-speaking market soon. I will definitely be looking for them.

I give this story FOUR STARS.

I received an Advance Uncorrected Proof from NetGalley.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Split Second

Split Second by David Baldacci

When something distracts Secret Agent Sean King for a split second, it costs him his career and presidential candidate Clyde Ritter, his life. But what stole his attention? And why was Ritter shot? Eight years later Michelle Maxwell is on the fast track through the ranks of the Secret Service when her career is stopped short: Presidential candidate John Bruno is abducted from a funeral home while under her protection. The similarity between the two cases drives Michelle to re-open investigations into the Ritter fiasco and join forces with attractive ex-agent King. The pair is determined to get to the bottom of what happened in those critical moments. Meanwhile, high-ranking members of the legal system and key witnesses from both cases are going missing. King is losing friends, colleagues and clients fast and his ex-lover, Joan Dillinger, is playing curious games - she wants Sean back, but she also owes him for something...

--Split Second by David Baldacci, Copyright ©2003 by David Baldacci

My Review

This is Book 1 in the Sean King and Michelle Maxwell series.

Sean King’s career in the Secret Service came to an end eight years ago when the presidential candidate he was guarding was shot. Now living in Wrightsburg, Virginia with a law practice and lake-side home, he’s comfortable with his new life.

Michelle Maxwell is moving up in the Service when her protectee is kidnapped from a funeral home. Placed on leave, she begins to investigate the case that cost Sean King his career. Their cases were similar, and perhaps by working on his case, she could keep her mind off the disaster that had befallen her.

She gets in touch with King and, despite his unwillingness to participate, they begin to see similarities between their two cases. The more clues they uncover, the deeper they get into the conspiracy surrounding these two events. Could the same person or persons be responsible for both events? And if so, what could their motive be? Who is the ultimate target?

And most important, can King and Maxwell stop them before they fall victim to the mastermind’s plan?

Having already read Hour Game, I was familiar with Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, but it was good to go back and learn how the two former Secret Service agents became former Secret Service Agents and how they became partners in King and Maxwell Investigations.

I read a few other reviewer’s comments about this novel and most of them were disappointed with how the story ended. I admit, I had a hard time buying into the mastermind’s motivation, primarily because I don’t really “get” the need some people have to get revenge for a perceived slight. The mastermind wanted something to go his way—Plan A—and when that didn’t work, he instituted Plan B. When that didn’t work, Plan C. But Plan C wasn’t the end. His need for revenge for the failure of Plans A & B caused him to put together Plan D. At some point, don’t you just say, “Enough is enough, I only have this one life and I’m going to go enjoy it?” But that’s the only reason I didn’t enjoy the ending, a little too unbelievable for my understanding.

I enjoy reading series novels because—if I enjoy the series, then that means I enjoy the characters and if I enjoy the characters, I want to read more about them and watch as they develop over the years. I think I’m going to enjoy these two for a long time to come.

I give this story THREE and a HALF STARS.


Collide by Megan Hart

A childhood accident left Emmaline vulnerable to disturbing fugue states that last only minutes, but feel like an eternity. The blackouts are unsettling but manageable…until she meets Johnny Dellasandro.

The reclusive painter gained notoriety in the '70s for his debauched lifestyle and raunchy art films. His naked body has achieved cult status, especially in Emm's mind—she's obsessed with the man, who's grown even sexier with age. Today Johnny shuns the spotlight and Emm in particular…until she falls into a fugue on his doorstep.

In that moment she's transported back thirty years, crashing a party at Johnny's place in his wild-man heyday— the night is a blur of flesh and heat that lingers on her skin long after she's woken to the present.

It happens again and again, each time-slip another mind-blowing orgy, and soon Emm can't stop, though every episode leaves her weaker and weaker. She's frightened by what's happening to her, but she's even more terrified of losing this portal to the Johnny she wants so badly. The one who wants her, too, and takes her—every chance he gets.

--Collide by Megan Hart, Copyright ©2011 by Megan Hart, published by Spice/Harlequin Books

My Review

I tried to write a summary of the story (like I always do) but found myself unable to summarize without retelling the entire story. And I couldn’t improve upon the book blurb summary provided above, so I figured, “why try?”

I seriously had a hard time putting this book down. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it which, to me, is the hallmark of an excellently written story. This is my second Megan Hart novel and she is quickly becoming a favorite.

The story is sexually explicit (WARNING, WARNING), but I think even if those scenes were tamed down, or even if some of them were removed, it would still be an excellent story. Hart doesn’t rely on sex to carry the plot, it’s merely the seasoning to a superb meal. (I felt the same about another one of her novels, Naked.)

Imagine obsessing about someone because of what they did and how they looked in their past, and at the same time, falling in love with their present self. It’s no wonder Emm was conflicted with her growing feelings for Johnny…she couldn’t separate what she was experiencing with him in the past with what’s growing between them in the present.

Even though there’s a huge generation gap between them, it doesn’t show in the way they talk to each other or in the way they treat each other. Johnny’s young enough at heart to reach Megan’s level and she’s more mature because of her illness to reach Johnny’s level, so it’s a good match.

Too often I read stories where there’s this “instant, magnetic attraction” between the male and female leads, “full of a passion and fire that must be quenched before it burns out of control.” The romance between Johnny and Emm develops slowly and that slow development is very satisfying. I really enjoyed that these two spent time dodging each other before coming together. Love and passion can flare up between two people, but it can also develop slowly and I think it’s more satisfying when it’s slow.

I did wonder about the scientific aspects of the story. How could Emm, in her fugue state, be physically present in the now, and yet at the same time, be physically present in the past? In the beginning she thinks she’s hallucinating, but it becomes evident that it’s not hallucination, that she really is slipping back to the 70’s. So how is she doing it? I admit, I won’t lose any sleep wondering about this—I’ll simply accept it and move on—but it is curious. I also felt that there was more to the character of Ed D’Onofrio that probably didn’t make the final edits. Was Ed attracted to Emm but couldn’t approach her because she was so wrapped up with Johnny? I thought that might be it, but that was never explored. I would also have loved it if Johnny (in the present) brought Emm to meet Candy at his restaurant. That scene as I pictured it happening, had the potential to be hilarious but that was never written. I am glad, though, that Emm got to meet Sandy again at the very end. That loose end was nicely tied off.

There is a strong similarity between this story and another popular novel/movie, The Time Traveler’s Wife and perhaps that story, in part, inspired Collide. Hart skillfully gets around this comparison by freely acknowledging it when Emm finally tells Jen what’s been going on with her in her fugue states.

In short, Collide is a great story that I thoroughly enjoyed and will enjoy again.

This is another of my NetGalley reads.

I give this story FIVE STARS.

Trash Course

Trash Course by Penny Drake

Terry Faye loves traveling the world while working as a private investigator. But this latest case is a doozy—and it's right here in Ann Arbor.

Two elderly recluses, Howard and Lawrence Peale, have stopped communicating with the outside world, and Terry and her boss have been put on the case. The catch: the Peales are hoarders. A clean sweep isn't going to be easy, even with cute photographer Zack Archer lending a hand.

The more digging Terry does in the Peale mansion, the more dirt she uncovers. And after she discovers two dead bodies, it's going to take a lot more than just elbow grease and a nice guy sidekick to find out what's happened...
--Trash Course by Penny Drake, Copyright ©2010, published by Carina Press

My Review

After busting a child-trafficking ring in Russia with her boss, Mrs. Hawk, Terry Faye is glad to be back home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. When Belinda Harris arrives at their private investigation firm, asking them to look in on her two reclusive uncles, Terry is glad for a lighter change of pace.

When they arrive at Howard and Lawrence Peale’s home, they find a grand old home stuffed to the ceilings with junk. The uncles were hoarders, Belinda explained, and she was unable to find a way inside, but Terry found an unblocked door and they began to explore. Inside, working their way through the maze of junk, Terry and Mrs. Hawk stumble upon two bodies. One is Howard Peale. The other is…not Lawrence Peale.

They also find Zack Archer, a freelance photographer, interested in doing a story on the Peales. Terry, though very attracted to Zack, doesn’t fully trust him, even though Mrs. Hawk and Belinda seem glad to have his assistance as they search the house for any important papers the uncles may have left behind, and maybe something to help identify the unidentified man.

For there is treasure in the Peale house, and there are several interested parties in finding the treasure, not just Brenda and Zack. There’s Belinda’s criminal cousins from Chicago, and a certain Russian whose business took a serious hit lately… and Zack is hiding something, something Terry is determined to find out, before she falls even deeper in love with him.

Terry Faye is not your typical brave, fearless heroine nor is she a typical shrinking violet. She is brave, but she’s had to learn how to be brave. She gets scared, nervous and sometimes feels unsure of herself, but she pushes herself past those points and does what needs to be done. The fact that we get to “hear” her nervousness and how she talks herself through those nerves to do what needs to be done is refreshing and I really enjoyed that part of her personality. These are the traits that make a good hero…they have vulnerabilities yet they stick to the task and see it through. And having cherry cheesecake and an Orlando Bloom movie waiting for you at the end certainly helps.

Zach Archer is also a refreshing character. Early thirties and gorgeous, he’s a freelance photographer who’s interested in a potential story behind the Peale’s hoarding. He’s also interested in Terry, though he doesn’t go about pursing her with the bull-in-the-china-shop style that’s so prevalent in suspense/romance stories these days. Through gentle persuasion and charm, he wiggles his way into Terry’s heart. Though she’s reluctant at first, by the end of the story, she’s happy to have him there. Just in her heart, though. Their romance doesn’t go further than a few kisses, with a hint of more at the very end, and that hint is really all we need.

These two, plus the somewhat aristocratic Mrs. Hawk, Terry’s Russian friend Slava and the eccentric cast of supporting characters, including the junk-filled house and the town of Ann Arbor itself, plus a terrifically twisting plot and plenty of action, with a dash of romance to season, makes this story a delightful, fun read. I’m hoping for another Terry Faye/Hawk Enterprises story soon.

I give this story THREE and a HALF STARS.

Available as an e-book through Amazon (see usual link below) or Carina Press (click name to go to their web site).

I've Been Tagged!

Okay, a step away from the reviews for a moment because I have been tagged by my friend Michelle Massaro on her blog, Michelle's Adventures in Writing. Naturally, I must comply with the rules, so here you go!

Do you think you're hot?

Well, the Shenandoah Valley is finally starting to steam up, so -- oh, wait, do you mean the other kind of hot? Then alas, I'd have to say no...but I'm working on it!

Upload a picture of the wallpaper you are using.

"Little" Richard and his mount, Bunny, from the awesome online cartoon Looking for Group

When was the last time you ate chicken?

Yesterday for lunch. Panera's Chopped Chicken Cobb Salad. I love it and my trainer loves to give me grief about it.

What song or songs have you listened to recently?

Last night, one of my residents (I work in a nursing home) sat outside his room and sang hymns for about an hour, with one or two rock-and-roll classics thrown in. He has a pretty good voice and he takes requests!

Do you have any nicknames? If so what are they?

Jacki is my usual nickname. When I was in the 8th grade, I was friends with two other Jackies, so we were Jackie, Jacquelyn and Jan...I was Jan since those are my initials. After 8th grade I went back to being Jacki.

I know I'm supposed to tag 5 bloggers next, but I don't know if I know five bloggers to tag! Can I come back and fill them in later?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Critical Space

Critical Space by Greg Rucka

Greg Rucka is one of the most exciting voices in thriller fiction—and bodyguard Atticus Kodiak one of its edgiest, most dangerous heroes. This time Kodiak breaks a cardinal rule when dealing with a client and finds himself in the most dangerous place of all…

Code-named Drama, she is a lightning-fast death machine—a hitwoman sought by intelligence agencies around the world. Drama kills as easily as she breathes…and the last time she and Atticus Kodiak met, they barely escaped each other alive.

Now he is her only hope for survival. And if he thought Drama was stone-code dangerous as a contract killer, Atticus is about to find out the hard way that she is ten times more deadly as a woman.

--Critical Space by Greg Rucka, Copyright ©2001 by Greg Rucka, published by Bantam Dell Books

My Review

This is book 5 in the Atticus Kodiak series.

Atticus’ security company, KTMH, is in high demand, but fame has its price and Atticus does not want their firm to be known as the security company for the rich and spoiled. But they will make an exception for Lady Antonia Ainsley-Hunter.

She’s coming across the pond to make a series of appearance on behalf of her children’s charity. It should be standard work, but there is a stalker following her, complicating matters. There’s also an assassin in the country codenamed Oxford from a secret organization known as The Ten. They don’t know if he’s after Lady Antonia, but they need to be on their guard just in case. Oh, and there’s an international female assassin known as Drama, also part of The Ten. Atticus was lucky to survive his last encounter with Drama and has no desire to ever meet up with her again.

But Drama wants to meet with him and will use Lady Antonia to achieve her goal. Because Oxford isn’t after Lady Antonia, he’s after Drama.

And Drama wants Atticus to protect her.

There’s a reason I don’t like to jump into the middle of a series when reading a new author. There’s usually a long, detailed history on the characters and experiences that you need (or at least want) to know about before you can fully understand the series you’re diving into the middle of. The Atticus Kodiak series illustrates this point.

While Critical Space works delightfully on its own, not knowing the history of the characters and of their past together left me feeling as if I was missing out on something. Even so, it was a great, edge-of-your-seat thriller. I’ll be looking for the other books in the series to catch up on the character’s histories.

I give this story FOUR STARS.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hour Game

Hour Game by David Baldacci

He's copying famous serial killers and the game has just begun.

A woman is found murdered in the woods. It seems like a simple case but it soon escalates into a terrible nightmare. Someone is replicating the killing styles of the most infamous murderers of all time. No one knows this criminal's motives...or who will die next.

Two ex-Secret Service agents, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, have been hired to defend a man's innocence in a burglary involving an aristocratic, dysfunctional family. Then a series of secrets leads the partners right into the frantic hunt that is confounding even the FBI. Now King and Maxwell are playing the Hour Game, uncovering one horrifying revelation after another and putting their lives in danger. For the closer they get to the truth, the closer they get to the most shocking surprise of all.

--Hour Game by David Baldacci, Copyright ©2005 by David Baldacci

My Review

This is Book 2 in the Sean King and Michelle Maxwell series.

Sean King and Michelle Maxwell have been hired by Harry Lee Carrick, a local attorney, to investigate a burglary involving one of Wrightsburg, Virginia’s most prominent and wealthiest families, the Battles. The case against his client, Junior Deaver, looks like a perfect slam dunk, but the more they look, the more it looks too perfect.

Meanwhile, a series of murder victims are showing up and the methods reflect those of famous serial killers of the past including The Zodiac and Son of Sam, among others. Each victim is found wearing a watch and each watch is set to the hour that reflects their count in the killer’s agenda (first victim one o’clock, second victim two o’clock, etc.). Given their backgrounds in the Secret Service, the local sheriff is only too glad to deputize King and Maxwell to help him solve these murders before the FBI does.

Can Sean and Michelle find out who’s behind the robbery at the Battles and at the same time figure out who’s killing off the citizens of Wrightsburg before anyone else is killed?

This is a complicated story with several different plots and sub-plots and a large cast of characters—almost too many—each with their own motives and secrets. It was difficult keeping everyone straight. Perhaps if I had been forewarned I could have taken notes, but I muddled through and I was pretty satisfied with the ending when King and Maxwell got their man (men?). However, I think the story suffered by being too complicated. There are those who enjoy deep, involved, interwoven plot lines and those who like to keep their stories simple. If you’re the simple type, you might want to give this story a pass.

Normally, when I start to read a new series, I start with the first book, but since I had listened to almost half of this book on a recent road trip, I decided I had to finish it before I went back to the first book, Split Second. I’m three-quarters of the way through that one and will have its review up soon.

I give this story THREE and a HALF STARS.