I discovered Baldacci a little while ago when I exhausted most of the audiobook selection at my local library. I discovered he is an excellent writer of suspenseful fiction. In his latest, The Camel Club, he deviates from his usual 'get to know your characters and then throw them into a precarious situation.'
This one was... interesting. For half of the book I had no idea where it was going. At first I thought the plot was about the assassination of a federal employee which was witnessed by a rag tag group of conspiracy theorist called The Camel Club. The group is mostly formed by older ex-military who have been let down by their government.
Oliver Stone lost his wife and child to the dangerous career he chose and now lives as a homeless man who works at a cemetery. The other three, Milton, Caleb and Ruben, have different stories but all are outcasts of society and all have a reason to question their government. When they witness the murder of a man while holding one of their Camel Club meetings they try to find out why this person was important enough to have the government (because the assassins where government men) want him dead. Or maybe it was just the second hand to the president himself, Carter Gray, who ordered the killings.
Well, when you think this is going on the murder / chase / government conspiracy track you get side swiped when you learn there is a plot to assassinate the President (who I didn't sympathize with). The man who is organizing the attack against the president is unmasked to the reader by the middle of the book but this does not take away from the story since the plot is not so much about who dun it by how the hell he do it.
With the help of Alex Ford, a federal agent that gets demoted to secret service guard duty after he screws up the murder investigation he was assigned to; Kate, the bartender / lawyer who is dating Alex and other host of characters that keep us on our toes, our Camel Club try to stop the plot against the president and then try to save the country from nuclear war.
If I can forget the fact that this book was mostly all over the place for the first half of the book, I would say I enjoyed it very much. There were many characters to follow but Baldacci gave everyone a distinct personality and in small degrees explored them all. We see not just the Camel Club in action but we follow closely the terrorist that have been recruited to do the dirty work for a cause they deeply believe in. At point we actually sympathize with some of them and when we discover what this plot against the president really is, we can't even hold a grudge against the person who coordinated the whole thing.
A bit confusing at first, this one ended up redeeming itself in the end.