Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Zero Day

Zero Day by David Baldacci

John Puller is a combat veteran and the best military investigator in the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Division.  His father was an Army fighting legend, and his brother is serving a life sentence for treason in a federal military prison.  Puller has an indomitable spirit and an unstoppable drive to find out the truth.

Now, Puller is called out on a case in a remote, rural area in West Virginia coal country far from any military outpost.  Someone has stumbled onto a brutal crime scene, a family slaughtered.  The local homicide detective, a headstrong woman with personal demons of her own, joins forces with Puller in the investigation.  As Puller digs through deception after deception, he realizes that absolutely nothing he’s seen in this small town, and no one in it, are what they seem.  Facing a potential conspiracy that reaches far beyond the hills of West Virginia, he is one man on the hunt for justice against an overwhelming force.

--Zero Day
by David Baldacci
Copyright © 2011 by David Baldacci
Published by Grand Central Publishing

My Review

John Puller is a U.S. Army Special Investigator sent to Drake, West Virginia to aid local law enforcement to figure out why a high-ranking military officer and his family were killed.  Puller piggy-backs onto the locals' investigation and discovers more than just this one family has been killed.  There doesn’t seem to be any connection between the two families, and yet there has to be, right?

Coal is the major source of revenue for the town and some people don’t care much for Puller’s investigation, but Puller’s not there to make friends.  He’s there to solve a murder and wherever the clues take him, that’s where he’s going to go.

As Puller investigates, he uncovers some of Drake’s dirty secrets and its dark past, a past that has nothing to do with coal mining and everything to do with the potential destruction of Drake.  And West Virginia.  And a good chunk of the Eastern portion of the United States.

I personally don’t understand how David Baldacci can keep so many different series going (Camel Club, King & Maxwell, Shaw & James) and then turn around and start a brand new one!  But in true Baldacci style, he’s crafted an intriguing tale full of twists and turns without bogging down the story with too much history or technical detail.

Like all of the Baldacci stories I’ve read, the mystery starts out small and in no time escalates into a huge, complicated and complex conspiracy, so it’s a bit formulaic, however, Baldacci crafts a uniqueness into each story that keeps them fresh and keeps me coming back for more.

Although there are similarities between John Puller and my own favorite fiction hero, Jack Reacher, this story is definitely not a Jack Reacher clone (as some have suggested).  I definitely felt some of Reacher in Puller, as they are both intelligent men and determined to see justice done at whatever cost.  But they are different, too, in that Reacher relies on his wits and Puller has the entire Army and its resources at his back.

At the end of the story, Puller takes some well-deserved time off.  He packs a bag, loads his cat (named AWOL—love that!) into his car and takes off, driving aimlessly across the country.  Doubtless he’ll run into a mystery or two in his travels that beg his unique skills to solve.  I’m definitely keeping an eye out for the next installment in this series.

I give this story FOUR STARS.

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