Monday, October 27, 2008

Stone Cold

Title: Stone Cold
Author: David Baldacci
Date Finished: October 26, 2008
Pages: 544

David Baldacci is one of those authors that I have been meaning to pick up for quite a while, but always seem to end up reading something else. I was looking through our work library the other day and happened upon one of his books. So, I quickly picked it up and carried it to my desk. I usually try to find the first book that an author has written so that I don't miss any character development, but this time, I just decided to jump in wherever the book took me. Although this book does pick up in the middle of a series, I did not feel like I was missing any pertinent information that would hinder me from understanding what was going on. David Baldacci does a great job of character development and keeping the reader informed.

This book involves the elusive Camel Club members who are headed up by none other than Oliver Stone. This however, like several characters in this book, is not his real name. So many secrets are kept in this book, not only between friends, but between families as well. If government secrets, assassins, and mystery solving are of interest to you, I would highly recommend picking up this book.

Let me take a step back. The Camel Club consists of Oliver Stone, Milton Farb, Reuben Rhodes and Caleb Shaw. Each of these individuals plays an important role in the Club and are a unique piece of the puzzle. Some other star characters are Alex Ford (a Secret Service Agent), Annabelle Conroy, her father Paddy (who are both con artists), Carter Gray, Roger Simpson (both political figures), Ray Solomon (deceased), Harry Finn (complex individual living a double life), and a casino owner named Jerry Bagger.

Caleb works at a rare book store and gets a visit from Jerry Bagger while he is trying to find Annabelle. Caleb recognizes Jerry, but does his best to keep his cool and appear aloof. Meanwhile, Milton and Reuben are sent to Atlantic City to sniff out Bagger, not knowing he is in Washington D.C., on his own mission. Milton and Reuben, although trying to stay inconspicuous, end up drawing quite a bit of attention to themselves, and barely escape Atlantic City alive.

The Triple Sixes were a group of US Assassins, who in terms of public knowledge do not really exist. Some of their key members were Ray Solomon and Oliver Stone. The other members of this elite killing squad are being individually picked off and killed. What is the reasoning behind them being killed and why is the last thing they see a picture of them as a whole group? Carter Gray's house is blow-up a few hours after Oliver left. It is widely known that they are not on friendly terms, but did Oliver have something to do with the devastation? Did Carter really parish in the fire? A grave is dug up in Arlington's Memorial Cemetery and the name on the headstone is John Carr. Why is this significant to the Triple Sixes and what does this mean for Oliver?

While the Camel Club is trying to solve this mystery, they are also being used on another front to help Susan (whose real name is Annabelle) hid from the casino boss, Jerry Bagger that she just stole 4 millions dollars from. What past event drives Annabelle to put together such a detailed scheme again Jerry Bagger? Is there something in their past that links the two people together? Enter Paddy Conroy, Annabelle's father, who also conned Jerry Bagger in his past. Why does Annabelle hate her father and will they be able to make amends before one of them is taken away?

Although Oliver is the one who asked Annabelle to stay and fight back, he ends up having to abandon her when his own issues appear. Feeling bad about not being able to keep his word, Oliver calls his trusty friend and Secret Service Agent Alex Ford to come in and help her. There are not many people who know the true story behind Oliver Stone, but Alex does. They have worked together before and would trust their lives in the hands of each other, which in their world is a huge leap of faith. A Secret Service agent and a Con artist. You know that has to create a little bit of drama!

Harry Finn (also not his real name) has been brought up hearing bits and pieces about his fathers death. His mother, a Soviet spy, is hiding out in a nursing home, speaking incoherently when other are around, but speaks perfect Russian to her son. What caused her to go into hiding and what secrets does she know and has she told any of them to her one and only child? When a Soviet spy and an American spy get married, and you toss love into the mix of training, loyalty and honor, who converts to the other side and becomes a double agent? Could this have been the cause of his death? Treason is punishable by death in most places, back during this time.

Dirty politicians taking matters into their own hands. Nothing like that would ever happen, right? Ha! Both Carter Gray and Roger Simpson were involved in the spearheading of the Triple Sixes during and after the Vietnam war. Who used their political power to accomplish their own personal goals? Were the higher ups aware of what was playing out under their noses? Although this book poses lots of questions, each one of them is answered in due time. The drama that unfolds will leave you turning pages as fast as you can to find out what will happen next.

I will definitely pick up another one of David Baldacci's books, but I'll try to get them in order next time!

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