Split Second
David Baldacci
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Buy *Split Second* online

Split Second
David Baldacci
Warner Books
512 pages
September 2004
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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Click here to read Luan Gaines' take on Split Second.

Secret Service agent Michelle Maxwell’s skyrocketing career comes to an ignominious screeching halt when a presidential candidate under her watch is kidnapped. As every law enforcement agency in the country gets involved in solving the case, there is another small but equally significant drama being played out nearby. Ex-Secret Service agent Sean King’s carefully rebuilt life as a flourishing small-town lawyer goes to pieces when an employee of his is found murdered with King’s own gun.

The case soon garners intense media attention not just because the man murdered was in witness protection, but mainly because King is that infamous agent whose momentary inattention led to the assassination of a highly controversial presidential candidate some eight years previously. Finding disturbing similarities in her case and King’s, Michelle joins forces with King to investigate both the incidents, together with King’s unpredictable ex-lover. But the diabolical mastermind behind all this always keeps one step ahead of them all, leading to a nail-biting and intense finish.

David Baldacci has long established a coveted niche in the world of mystery and suspense writing. While interesting and very absorbing, it has to be said that Split Second is not only a bit lightweight but also surprisingly clichéd, especially when compared with Baldacci’s excellent previous works. Overall, the book is good; there is a good build-up of suspense, the mystery is well-developed and perplexing, the characters are sufficiently frazzled and put upon, there are things blowing up, rising body count and chase sequences like in the best of action movies. The author also does a commendable job in showing the reality behind the life of being an elite Secret Service agent, and his research into this little spoken-of subject is laudable. While all the right elements are there in copious amounts, there is no escaping the fact that Baldacci lost his creative muse towards the end, and as a result, the ending is quite a letdown. Still, readers new to Baldacci will undoubtedly enjoy this book.

© 2003 by Rashmi Srinivas for Curled Up With a Good Book

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