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THE SIXTH MAN by David Baldacci

THE SIXTH MAN

By David Baldacci

Pub Date: April 19th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-446-57310-8
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

To keep al-Qaeda zealots, megalomaniac North Koreans with nukes and other bad guys at bay, gigabytes of real-time intelligence stream to the Wall, there to be collated and conceptualized by one man, the Analyst.

The Analyst, once an anonymous IRS bureaucrat with an eidetic memory and a strangely powerful intellect, now sits mute in a federal supermax prison, an accused serial killer. Baldacci (First Family, 2009, etc.) drops Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, Secret Service agents turned private investigators, into the mess. King has agreed to investigate the murders at the behest of defense attorney Ted Bergin, his beloved mentor. On their way to meet Bergin at the prison in Maine, King and Maxwell happen upon Bergin sitting in his vehicle on an isolated road, emergency lights flashing, murdered. Baldacci's realistic plot blends patriotism and naked ambition, greed and paranoia and bureaucratic infighting. With the Wall providing a singular source of accurate information, the government's alphabet departments are losing funding, especially Homeland Security, the fiefdom of manipulatively ambitious Ellen Foster. Peter Bunting, chief of a private-security company, is the genius behind the Wall and the Analyst. Mason Quantrell, owner of a rival company, is more interested in fat contracts than useful intelligence. Then there are the Analyst's sister, Kelly Paul, a woman with her own secrets; James Harkes, an agent without a badge but with a propensity for unleashing violence; and finally, Edgar Roy, the Analyst, brilliant, shy, lonely and deeply troubled about his part in the death and destruction generated by the Wall. This novel is action-adventure, the plot ricocheting between isolated Maine woods and Washington power corridors, with stops in Virginia and New York. It's Baldacci's fifth book in a series featuring King and Maxwell, and one that further explores their complex and sometimes thorny relationship.

Authentic scenario, mystery piled on misdirection and more double-crosses than a tic-tac-toe tournament.