Warner Books, September 2003
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
Sean King is haunted by the split second event in 1996 that destroyed his career. King was the Secret Service agent protecting presidential candidate Clyde Ritter, when Ritter was killed by an assassin. One law degree and eight years later, King has started over, but the kidnapping of John Bruno, another presidential candidate, and a dead body found in his law office brings King back into the media spotlight again.
Michelle "Mick" Maxwell is the protection detail leader for independent presidential candidate John Bruno. Bruno disappears during an unscheduled stop at a funeral home to visit his late mentor, Bill Martin. Against protective protocol, Michelle allows the candidate a moment of privacy with Martin's widow. It's a split second decision that threatens to destroy her career. Maxwell is suspended following Bruno's disappearance when one of her team's agents is found dead. But Maxwell isn't the type to let events sort themselves out, and she's troubled by the similarities between Bruno's disappearance and Ritter's assassination.
Maxwell contacts King, and the two discredited agents join forces to find out who set them up. Aided by one of King's former coworker and old flame, Joan Dillinger, King struggles to put all the pieces together. Working outside the Secret Service's sanction, and following a trail of dead bodies, they try to discover who the major players are and find the missing candidate.
David Baldacci, author of a long list of political thrillers like ABSOLUTE POWER, TOTAL CONTOL and LAST MAN STANDING, delivers another great read. SPLIT SECOND is part thriller, part mystery and action drama, an interesting mix and a believable plot. With snappy dialogue, Baldacci's characters come with a smart mouth and wicked sense of humor. Plus, to spice things up, there is an interesting romantic chemistry between Joan, King, and Maxwell. My only complaint is the suspense comes at the expense of a high body count, but it's well written with lots of complicated twists. This fast-paced thriller will keep readers turning pages late into the night.
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