Verdict: 4 Stars
There can be a lot of pressure on an author when his characters take center stage for a wider audience. It’s one thing when reader fans become attached to a story line, but it’s something else altogether when television or movie audiences also latch onto the story line and the players.
Even before Baldacci put pen to paper (well, you know what I mean) to write this latest book in his popular series about two Washingto, DC private eyes, he faced the challenge that mystery and thriller fans tend to be a hard demographic to impress. Some of the greatest and most well-known authors in the genre, including Baldacci but also names like James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell, routinely maintain three- and four-star average ratings for their books. It tends to feel like the readers have very high expectations, and if they’re not met to the tiniest detail, the readers are quick to point it out.
In this case, the author faced a growing audience who fell in love with the June debut television series, and readers quite possibly compared this book to the quite-brief by comparison TV episodes. Personally, I struggled a little bit through the choppy sentences and the attempts at stereotypical PI wit, but overall, the book did not disappoint.
What made up for the surprising writing was the eerie and timely plot. We live in an era where citizens trust the government possibly less than ever before, and a story line in which a soldier dies in Afghanistan and later manages to contact his son can grab anyone who watches the evening news. When the son, a mere teenager, hires the two investigators to look into his father’s death, what they learn is fodder for every conspiracy theorist’s dreams.
King & Maxwell is available now, although the corresponding television series was cancelled in September.