Saturday, June 25, 2022

Hell’s Corner by David Baldacci



by Joan Tailele

Copyright by Columbus Rose, LTD, 2010 New York

Oliver Stone served his country in Vietnam before he became an assassin for the most powerful country on the planet, and he thought all of that was behind him. A summons from Pennsylvania Ave would bring him out of retirement, but it was not the mission that ended up putting him back in harm’s way. A pleasant evening in Lafayette Park literally imploded in his face.

Stone’s keen senses alerted him that something was awry when he observed four unrelated people lingering in the park. It was unusual for that time of day in the park. Suddenly gun fire ran out and a bomb exploded, lifting Stone off his feet and threw him against something hard.

How could someone plant a bomb in a park directly across from the White House with all the security in place? But Hell’s Corner, as the park was called by those sworn to protect it, was a quandary. The park itself was the responsibility of the park service. The side walk belonged to the Secret Service and the street, Pennsylvania Ave., belonged to the D.C. metro police.  Add in the NIC, CIA, ATF and the FBI, plus the British M16; it was all I could do to stay on top of what was going on. If you are into acronyms, this book will be your cup of tea, as the Brits would say.

Stone’s new mission was to find out who was behind the bomb and the gun fire in the park. Was it an assassination attempt on the British Prime Minister whose motorcade was just entering the vicinity? If so, how could have such an elaborate plan been so far off its target that a middle aged jogger in the park was the only casualty? Thrown into a unwelcome partnership with Mary Chapman, the M16 British agent assigned to protect the prime minister, Stone and Chapman form an alliance that takes them from one dead-end lead to another.

The Camel Club, a strange mix of men and women all closely tied by their secretive lives as protectors of our country and each other, joins forces with Stone and Chapman to uncover the traitor among the ranks and tie him to the Russian drug cartel and possibly the Russian government itself. The characters are well defined and the deeper into the plot you get, the more insight the reader gets into what makes them tick.

Spies, double agents, bureaus that mistrust and counteract each other’s efforts – the story moves rapidly through the paces, but almost too many dead-ends frustrate the reader as well as the protagonists. A good spy novel, but I think the 103 chapters mystery could have been solved in 85 chapters or less.

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