Monday, December 10, 2012

Divine Justice

By David Baldacci
New York, Grand Central, 2008
387 pages     Fiction

There is nothing like listening to a book to make the miles fly by! We began listening to David Baldacci’s Divine Justice as we drove to and from Michigan to Minnesota a week ago. When we got home, we still had two disks to hear. But we were home. What to do? Well, I went to the library and got the book, and we read it aloud to each other at the breakfast table until we finished it this morning. Ah…satisfaction.

Frankly, I had never read any David Baldacci and didn’t know anything about the Camel Club who are the supporting cast in the continuing series about John Carr, alias Oliver Stone, a paid assassin for the United States government. It is not necessary to have read the other books in the series because you get caught up pretty quickly, although I had some questions about why Oliver Stone was on the run that didn’t get answered until the very end of the book. Must have happened in a previous book. 

The setting is interesting—a small town in Appalachia. The town of Divine, where Oliver Stone unintentionally ends up has some immediate weirdness to it. It is too prosperous looking for the drugged out coal miners who inhabit the place. The fact that there is a maximum security prison on the outskirts of the town makes it even more foreboding. One reader thought the setting was rather strange for an Oliver Stone novel. I had no basis for comparison, except to note that very few spy-type novels happen in Appalachia. But I guess if you were a spy-assassin on the run, Appalachia might be a good place to hide. 

There is a lot to like about formulaic books; mostly the comfort factor. And Baldacci has the formula down pat. I particularly listened for the ends of chapters. He knows exactly how to end a chapter—the reader is left with enough questions that you turn the page quickly. You know, as well, in a formulaic book, it will all end well, despite the required number of deaths.

The characters are interesting and very visual. I knew what they all looked liked. It helped that the audio book reader was very effective in creating the characters (not so much when my husband was doing the reading after we got the hard copy to finish the story). The villains are really villainous; Oliver Stone is appealing as is John Knox, the agent who is out to get him. They, of course, have a great deal of humanity to them. Just like in most formulaic action books, the characters are never fully developed beyond the basics; you will never become terribly attached to the character because that isn’t what the book is about. It is all about the plot.

So, then, why read David Baldacci. He is a master at this kind of fiction. You know that you won’t be disappointed. I like to read authors like Baldacci because I am so intrigued about how an author can figure out a way to create books that people will keep buying. One reviewer called Divine Justice “a thumping good read.” And I believe that is high praise. One other reviewer says about Baldacci, “(Baldacci) helps set the standard for thriller readers with his fast pacing, intricate plots, twists and double crosses.” 

David Baldacci has published 24 novels. The books in the Camel Club series include, The Camel Club, The Collectors, Stone Cold, Divine Justice, and Hell’s Corner

David Baldacci’s website:

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