David Baldacci Month #1: Split Second, Hour Game, Simple Genius, First Family

SPLIT SECOND

Both Secret Service agents made a mistake and the people they were protecting ended up dead or kidnapped. Now they are tied by the red string of fate and the truth they uncover together shows that the violence that discredited them as agents was planned for a long time and is far from over.

This book was a decent enough read. However, the novel wasn’t as flowing as some of David Baldacci’s other works. His writing seemed almost unsure in some places and in other places it just felt off. The pace starts off fast and engaging, then you just want to put the book down because nothing is happening that makes you want to keep reading. There are some parts to the book that are just plain unbelievable, such as trying to create a connection between the two Secret Service Agent’s fall from fame. However, that could be forgivable since the imagination can take us where-ever we want it to.
I want to take a quick look at the villain. This particular villain in this book seems like he could have developed so much more than he did. This villain very one-dimensional, unlike some of the villains David Baldacci has created. I couldn’t connect to the character like I could with some of the other villains. It just felt like the character was put there because there had to be an antagonist.

Would I recommend it to someone? I would say maybe. If you’re a hardcore Baldacci fan, then yes. If you’re looking for a good mystery and suspense novel, probably not. My rating on the book is a 3 out of 5.

HOUR GAME

This book had me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire read. I couldn’t figure out who the killer was and when I did, I personally couldn’t believe it. When you first start reading it, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, the two disgraced Secret Service agents from Split Second, are hired to solve a burglary and prove a man’s innocence. While trying to solve this case though, they find several secrets that drag them into a case of someone imitating the killing styles of former serial killers.

The very first thing I’m going to say is that I found the title very misleading at first until I read all the way through the book. Even then, the title can still be confusing since when you read a mystery and suspense novel that has the word “Game” in it, you expect it to be very fast paced and time constrained. I found this to be almost the exact opposite though. While the writing style is significantly better than that of Split Second, there were still places where the pace made me want to groan and give up reading the book. However, the one thing that kept me reading through it was the fact that I wanted to know who the killer was and who the burglar was. The fact that Baldacci thought of incorporating other killing styles into the killer’s style is what made it intriguing. However we never find out who the actual burglar was. We only find out who the killer is. If he did mention who the burglar was, it went over my head.

There was another reason why I wanted to put this particular book down too. Baldacci, though his books are amazing, attempted to make this book something spectacular. While I think it’s great that he was pushing to expand on his writing skills, it made it hard for the reader to follow. The plot line and motivations became twisted together in a mess. So when you try to remember a motivation for one thing, you have to go back to whatever page it was stated to remember and then go back to the page you were on. The relationships were also very complicated and I found myself getting a headache. If you don’t mind this though, I would definitely recommend the book. If for nothing else, read it just for the villain. I give this book a rating of 4 out 5.

SIMPLE GENIUS

Entering into a dark world of mathematicians, codes and spies near the world’s most unusual laboratory and a secret CIA training camp due to a murder, Sean King looks for answers which leads to violence and a genius autistic girl. Now Sean King and his partner, Michelle, have to find the killer, and solve the mystery that threatens the nation.

Wait…did we just read that right? A dark world of mathematicians? I always knew math was evil… Putting my (bad) jokes aside, the thing that made me pick up this book wasn’t the fact that it was written by David Baldacci. It was the fact that the words “…an autistic girl of extraordinary genius” was on the summary of the book. It was close to home for me, but I was happy when I started reading the book. As a fan of David Baldacci though, I have to ask…what was Mr. Baldacci thinking when he wrote this? Without giving too much away, the plot is very far-fetched. Secret codes that need to be broken, drug deals, detainment’s that aren’t legal, etc. are just a few things that Sean King finds out and since there are a lot of books that have been doing that lately, it just makes this book fall flat. At the same time, Michelle Maxwell isn’t actually involved in the investigation. At the beginning of the book she has a breakdown which makes her go out of commission for the majority of the book. To me, that makes the book fall even more since those two have the perfect chemistry when working together. Also, the protagonists which I could connect to in the first two books had suddenly lost their spark. They lost what made them interesting. It’s almost like David Baldacci gave up quality so he could extend the length of his book.

Would I recommend this book? Since it gave me a conspiracy theory type vibe, I would only recommend it those who like that type of stuff. My personal rating for the book is a 3 out of 5.

FIRST FAMILY

A kidnapping takes place at the presidential retreat and the president’s wife, the wife of a man Sean King once saved from a political disaster, is pressing for their help. Michelle is still struggling with her past, both of them are pushed to their limits and it’s impossible to tell who they are trying to defend or fight.

Before I get started…I have to ask what David Baldacci was thinking when he named the presidential retreat Camp David. Was he out of ideas or was he just trying to get himself involved? Maybe it was just the first thing he thought of or maybe there is a presidential retreat called that. I don’t know. Either way, I found that very amusing. Now, with the book. After the previous books, I had pretty low standards when reading this and I think it was probably for the best that I did. His writing was much better from the previous three books. However, there were still a lot of places that could have had improvement. First of all, inside the main plot there are several sub-plots that make the book hard to follow at times. The main plot though is interesting and, as long as you can keep up, you find yourself trying to figure out who the kidnapper was and their motivation out like Michelle and Sean are. There are a lot of twists and unexpected turns to keep you on your toes that the other books didn’t have and that’s what makes this book better than the other three. There were times that Baldacci started to do what he did in Simple Genius though and start going down the unbelievable route before he refocused his writing to something more realistic.

The characters that are involved are either very interesting or they just seem like they were cut out of cardboard and put there because he felt like someone needed to be there. The main characters still had their quirks and I don’t think they fully recovered their loss of appeal from Simple Genius. I had a hard time reconnecting with them. I mean, we all have our own demons in life so it should make it easier to connect with Michelle right? I think that’s what David Baldacci was going for but instead, he made it harder for me to connect with her. I could connect with Sean better but even that was still difficult.
Would I recommend the book? Yes. I would. You don’t want to assume you have everything figured out in this book because the likelihood that you do is actually pretty slim. He still could have improved on his quality of writing, but out of the four books in the King and Maxwell series (which these four books fall under), this would have to be the best. My rating would have to be a 4.5 out of 5.

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