Friday, March 28, 2008

The Collectors by David Baldacci

David Baldacci is always a pleasure to read. He is among the authors that write fiction that I can sink my teeth in, always a mystery to solve, always a conspiracy to pursue, always characters to love. This book was one that I needed to listen to long before now and I just had not gotten my hands on the Audio version. I finally did and loved it!

This is a second installment of the Camel Club adventures. The first book, aptly titled The Camel Club, suffered a bit getting off the ground but had recuperated by the end of the book. What was important about that book is that it introduced us to a group of characters that stuck with you and after reading this one you just love these guys!

The Camel Club is comprised by four older men that at first seem not to have anything in common but when they get together they are a force to be reckoned with - they seek to uncover the truth hidden among those that promise to serve the country in Washington, DC.

Oliver Stone (whose real name is John Carr) is the head of the group, he has a mysterious background that we know has a lot to do with killing for his country. Milton Farb is the one with the photographic memory, a computer genius that can get into any system out there. Ruben Rhodes, the muscle among the group and Caleb Shaw, a reference specialist in the Library of Congress who swims among the sharks and brings the information home.

The Collectors starts off with murder and keeps the bodies rolling, page after page. First to go down is Senator Bradley, the Speaker of the House and third in line to the presidency, but although that assassination was public and claimed as an act of terrorism, the Camel Club finds that it is connected to the death of Jonathan Dehaven, the Director of the rare book division in the Library of Congress. When Caleb is proclaimed the literary executor of Jonathan's personal rare book collection, the Camel Club needs to find the link between these murders to insure that Caleb is not found dead as well.

As the team investigates the murders, more bodies keep piling up and ever page brings us closer to uncovering an espionage ring that is selling off America, one secret at a time.

A side story brings Annabelle Conroy to join the ranks of the Camel Club. She is the greatest con artist of her time and has taken on as an enemy Jerry Bagger, one of the most dangerous casino owners in Atlantic City by stealing 40 million from under his nose. The con was a personal one since he had murdered her mother when she was a child. She is now on the run but when she hears about Dehaven's death (who was her ex-husband) she heads to Washington and joins Oliver and the gang in their investigation.

Baldacci has a talent to bring to life a montage of characters, all with their distinct personalities and melt them into a cohesive plot that keeps us glued to the story, page after page. We know the players up front but the how did they do it and can they get away with it, drives the story forward.

The book leaves a big loose end (on purpose) which has me scrambling to find a copy of the next book in the series, Stone Cold. In a sense I'm happy I had not found this book until Stone Cold was published because I would be killing someone if I could not find out what is going to happen next.

Grade: A
Format: Audiobook


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