Monday, September 15, 2008

Stone Cold by David Baldacci

Stone Cold by David BaldacciStone Cold
Author: David Baldacci
Format: Softcover

Baldacci's recurring Camel Club uses its special talents to help a scam artist in distress.

Beautiful, brainy con woman Annabelle Conroy, who took megamobster Jerry Bagger for $40 million in Baldacci's The Collectors (2006), is still in hot water. Bagger, quite understandably, wants his money back.

He also wants to tear Annabelle apart, piece by piece, limb by limb. He will stop at nothing to work through that list of tasks.

Annabelle, feeling the heat of Bagger's wrath radiating from his Atlantic City casino, drops in on old acquaintance Oliver Stone in Washington. Annabelle's not exactly asking for help from the ex-CIA hit man, but she's open to suggestions.

While Stone, who used to be John Carr when he was in the government's employ, works out a plan that will utilize the oddly skilled circle of friends that comprise the Camel Club, mild-mannered suburban dad Harry Finn is working through his own task list.

He's carrying out the serial execution of the squad of CIA assassins who staged Harry's father's fake suicide years ago. He thinks he's more than halfway done because one of the killers on the list is John Carr, who is supposedly buried in Arlington Cemetery.

Finn's day job is testing security measures, mostly for Homeland Security, a career that puts him in cargo holds with fake bombs and allows him to bypass all the anti-terror nonsense we regular mortals endure at the airport. Those singular professional skills give him an edge with his murderous task, a job in which he is egged on by his mysterious mum.

The two plots merge when Stone figures out what Harry is up to and why. It all has to do with the evil scheming of the former head of the CIA and a Southern senator who believes he would make a dandy president. Baldacci (Simple Genius, 2007, etc.) can do this stuff in his sleep now, but it's still entertaining enough. (Kirkus Reviews)

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