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King and Maxwell is the 6th in the Sean King & Michelle Maxwell political thriller series by David Baldacci. In fact, it is also the latest book written by the author so far, and having just read the book that I got from NetGalley to read and review, I can honestly say that Baldacci hasn’t lost his touch.
Many authors show signs of burn-out after having written half a dozen books, but reading the David Baldacci books in order even after his 26th novel, the story, the setting and character development are as fresh as in his very first book, Absolute Power.
Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are two ex-secret service agents, turned private investigators. However the cases they usually take on are not the typical PI cases (you know, a cheating spouse, some embezzlement, or protecting a celebrity or two). Their cases are always tied to the national security, their clients are either high profile or surrounded by deep and dangerous secrets, and nothing is easy about what they do every single day.
In this last novel, Michelle is recovering from a close encounter with death in the past, and Sean is looking after her like an old and trusted husband. In the meantime, the action is somewhere else: in Afghanistan where Sam Wingo is on the way to deliver a safely guarded cargo only to be ambushed by a group of CIA employees (or at least that’s what their cards show) with the task to steal the cargo from Sam and make him disappear forever.
Sam, quick on his feet, escapes his fate, however by doing so he leaves the cargo behind, as this is the only way for him to get away in one piece.
From here on starts a dangerous cat and mouse game between everyone who wants to find Sam and him trying to prove his innocence.
After a chance encounter between Sam’s son, Tyler, and the Sean/Michelle team one night on the road, Tyler hires them to look into the disappearance of his father. He doesn’t really believe Sam is dead, not after him sending him an email…after the date he supposedly died.
There is a lot of action and suspense in this book, which is something that I always expect from this author. There is often a sitting at the edge of your chair type of suspense, like when Sean and Maxwell survive a bombing attempt but for the grace of God – or Sean who is really quick on thinking and acting.
Despite the serious topic, the book doesn’t take itself all that serious, however. There are plenty of chuckling moments which I really enjoyed, especially when it came to Edgar, a savant who takes everything literally and doesn’t really understand jokes. I really enjoyed Edgar and I hope I will see more of him in the future. Although the way the book ended, that might just happen even without me asking 🙂
All characters are well fleshed out. Sean and Michelle are like an old couple, always bickering, but of good nature. Sean can’t stand Michelle’s disinterest in keeping her car or office clean. She, on the other hand, makes fun of him every step of the way. Especially when Michelle teams up with Edgar in doing so. I could literally see Sean’s brain cell leaving his body in front of my eyes, lol.
They’re really a classy duo, complementing each other very well. While they’re not in a personal relationship at the moment (they did try it a long time ago, but gave it up so that they can keep their partnership intact), all signs point to the fact that they do love each other.
Even Sean’s ex-wife, Dana is aware of that and gives Michelle her woman-to-woman advice in very clear terms.
Dana is an interesting character which stumbles into trouble because she still cares about her ex and knows that she really wronged him in the past. But she also loves her current husband, who, well, that’s for you to read and find out.
Finally, the agents from the various offices (FBI, CIA, DIA), and even the president are shown as real humans with their flaws and their good parts as well.
As for the bad guys, the main villain of this story is shown more like a person with a very troubled mind and mission. We get to see why he is doing what he is doing, what are the real reasons behind his evil acts, and to what lengths he is ready to go (even sacrificing his family) to get what he wants. And no, greed, it isn’t. He is not a 2D cartoon character, but a real person with his demons that push him a little harder than the rest of us.
Having just finished the book, I can’t find one negative thing to say about it. The writing is great as usual, the characters are alive and very likable and the suspense and action don’t let go until the last page of the book. Hence a genuine 5 stars from me.
King and Maxwell by David Baldacci
Series: Sean King and Michelle Maxwell #6
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Source: Review Copy
Also by this author: No Man’s Land, End Game