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A Lengthy Investigation Procedural in an Espionage/Power-Wrangling Context
on December 16, 2010
"You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous." -- Deuteronomy 16:19 (NKJV)
In many police procedurals, good use of made of conflicts between fiercely independent detectives and their bosses. In more complex stories, the need to overcome the FBI is often added as an element. Since 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security often comes in as a fourth group of cross-interest.
Hell's Corner leaves all those "simple" plots behind by adding several more layers and levels of cross-purposes and hidden motives. It's enough to frustrate all but the most dedicated lovers of conspiracy theories. If you don't like such crosscurrents, this book may move in too complicated and slow ways for you.
In the earliest Camel Club books, the whole club is engaged in "saving" the United States from early in the story. In Hell's Corner, it takes almost half the book before the Camel Club begins to be fully active. Even then, the Camel Club is not the center of the story. The book is really about Oliver Stone (aka John Carr) and his conflict with arch enemies who have him covered. So if you really enjoy the parts of the series about the Camel Club members, this book may seem light to you in that regard.
Actually, the book is a throwback to the assassin versus assassin stories that were so popular in the 1970s and 1980s . . . with the complication of a strange mystery to solve.
The book does have some interesting qualities, beginning with an improbable series of events that have a most unexpected explanation. It takes a long time for the answer to be revealed, and the book becomes much more interesting and fast paced from that point on. I'll never look at Lafayette Park in the same way again.
Ultimately, I thought that the book was a little too complex and slow to get to the solution to the mystery to be fully satisfying. Then, the events toward the end were a little too dramatic . . . seeming to fit better with James Bond than with the Camel Club. It's as though Mr. Baldacci felt that a good story about the Camel Club wouldn't appeal to us, so he is taking the series off on a new tack where the fate of the world is at stake. The writing loses much of its charm in the process.
But it's certainly an imaginative story that kept me up late to finish it. I felt as if less would have been more in this case.
Once again, the Kindle price seems awfully high compared to the discounted hardcover price. Why don't publishers like people who own Kindles?