Murders, kidnappings, international conspiracies, internecine warfare between alphabet agencies, mad scientists and, oh yes, buried treasure, as Baldacci pours it on.
Michelle Maxwell and Sean King, once of the Secret Service, but now, reductively, P.I.s chasing the industrial security buck, return in Baldacci’s 13th (The Collectors, 2006, etc.) to face a sea of troubles. For one thing, Michelle may be cracking up. We know this because in the opening scene she ventures into exactly the wrong Washington D.C. bar and picks a fight with exactly the wrong Neanderthal. She’s almost killed, which, it turns out, might well have been the aim of the game. Instantly, Sean nudges her into a “facility” where she can be restored to mental health by world-class though unconventional psychologist Horatio Barnes, Sean’s old friend. (We know how far from hidebound he is because he wears jeans and black t-shirts and drives a Harley.) Restoring Michelle to mental health does not come cheap, so Sean takes on a gig that connects him to a certain high-powered and mysterious enclave in Virginia called Babbage Town. Baggage Town is high-powered because the scientists who work on its behalf are super bright, and it’s mysterious because no one really knows what they’re working on—except that a breakthrough could bring “the world as we know it to a screeching halt.” There, Sean finds the adorable Viggie, an 11-year-old girl genius (mathematics) who is targeted by various nasty types attempting to exploit her. Soon the customary battle ensues. Fortunately, Michelle recovers sufficient mental health to blow the facility and resume the partnership, arriving in time to earn again the thanks of a grateful…make that world.
Lamer than usual. Has the formula at last run thin enough to keep Baldacci off the bestseller list?