Book Review: Long Road to Mercy by David Baldacci

Long Road to Mercy is the first book in the Atlee Pine thriller series by David Baldacci. Atlee is a special agent with the FBI who moved to a remote location in the Grand Canyon wilderness where she lives and works as the sole representative of the FBI.

I have read so far almost all the David Baldacci books, and I have to admit that Atlee Pine might just become one of my new favorite series with Atlee being one of my favorite characters created by this author.

When she was around 5, she was in her bedroom with her sister, Mercy. One night, an intruder assaulted her and took Mercy, whom Atlee never saw again. Ever since, she has felt strong survivor guilt for the wrong sister to have been taken.

Mercy was always the good sister, the good daughter, and she deserved to live on. At least, that’s the feeling Atlee grew up with.

Also, she became an FBI agent to hunt down those like the guy who took and probably killed her sister so many years ago.
57-year-old Daniel James Tor is a convicted serial killer who is incarcerated and who – based on what Atlee believes – has also taken her sister, although there has never been actual proof of this particular crime. Atlee, nevertheless, wants Tor to spill the beans and confess, so she visits him in prison, although the result is not quite what she expected to get out of that particular encounter.

In the book, two stories are told in parallel, although they don’t quite intersect: Atlee’s persistence in getting the information from Tor about her sister, and the case of a dead mule which might have been mutilated from the looks of it.

Initially, I was hoping that her personal story is a bit more extensive in the book, but the author only touches upon it a bit at the beginning and at the end. Still, the case Atlee is working on is interesting on its own.

The mutilated mule’s owner, Benjamin Priest, is also missing, Atlee and her park rangers are almost convinced he must be dead as well. Things go really strange when Atlee’s superiors at the FBI are trying to push her to stop her investigation. Of course, she still persists despite the warnings.

I did like Atlee’s character. She is strong, a loner, a person with strong morals who knows her stuff and is not easily intimidated. Tall, muscular, she always lands on her feet. Although she is not located at the headquarters – or any other quarters for the matter – she is a real FBI agent who never forgets her roots or her job.

This story was quite interesting and I didn’t see the surprising end coming. At some point, the crime mystery turned into an action-packed adventure with a hint of political intrigue, which I really enjoyed. The way things are today in the world, something like this is not only possible, but it could be also probably – especially if American’s enemies read David Baldacci’s book.

Still, I would have Atlee’s personal story with her missing sister to have more time in the story. Hopefully, more will be revealed in the second book of the Atlee Pine series.

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