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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review - Hell's Corner

This week I am reviewing the latest in the intrigue packed Camel Club series by best selling author David Baldacci. There is a fascination with the underdog and this capitalizes on that idea.

The Spring Blog Carnival is below.

Author:  David Baldacci

Copyright:  November 2010 (Grand Central Publishing) 448 pgs

Series:  5th in Camel Club Series

Sensuality:  Mild, but action fight scenes occur

Mystery Sub-genre:  Suspense

Main Character:  Oliver Stone, prior "Triple 6" CIA assassin John Carr who is believed dead.

Setting:  Modern day, Washington D.C.

Obtained Through:  Library - audio book

The Camel Club refers to a group that originally gathered regularly to discuss political conspiracies - they considered themselves a conspiracy watchdog group.  They are lead by a man with the alias Oliver Stone.

Oliver Stone, formerly known as John Carr the CIA assassin, has been called by the President back into service to stop supposed Russian drug cartels operating in the U.S.  The central event in the book is an explosion that takes place in Lafayette Park in the renowned "Hell's Corner" area.  Stone/Carr is teamed up with a MI6 agent, Mary Chapman, since it is thought the explosion was intended for the British PM who was scheduled to be in the park at the time of the explosion.

Much is made of how an explosive could have made it into the park with all the dog patrols and various government agencies covering the park.  At first Stone/Carr attempts to keep his good friends, The Camel club, out of events for their safety.  Nobody is who they seem and eventually he needs to have people he can absolutely trust to assist him and turns to the Camel Club which definitely brings danger to the members and one may never recover. It begins to look more like a Mexican drug cartel is involved and wants it to look like the Russians.

I have to say that this series works beautifully as a book on tape.  The plot twists and action are ideal for listening. As a book it is so action packed that it would be hard to put down and like many suspense/thriller novels it pushes the envelope as political agendas are utilized to the fullest.  I will warn the reader that the cast in the novel is extensive and the many different government agencies can get confusing.  Sometimes the believability aspect is stretched. I felt those moments weren't so overdone that I couldn't enjoy the novel but I think each person may react differently to that.

Oliver Stone is enigmatic as the mythical assassin jaded when a hit was done on his wife and child for his wanting to leave the service.  He had gotten his revenge on the persons responsible for that in the book "Stone Cold".  But in this novel he seems to make tactical mistakes - that being one of the flaws in believability. What makes the series is the eclectic mix of characters in the Camel Club who are loyal to a fault to one another:  Caleb (Library of Congress nerd), Reuben (decorated Vietnam veteran with attitude),
honorary members Annabelle (greatest con-artist of the age with a soft heart),  Alex Ford (Secret Service agent), and Harry Finn (DHS security expert)  - read "Stone Cold" to find out what happened to original Camelite Milton (wealthy genius OCD member).  The characters are intricately developed and in many instances ARE the story and even break the serious action with humor.

This series capitalizes on action and this book continues that. But the core concept is a group of underdogs who have plenty of baggage individually, but who make a formidable force together. On its own it is a good book with enough plot twists to keep the reader interested, but it isn't the strongest entry in the series.  Murder Mountain is employed for a suspenseful confrontation again but the ending had an intriguing showdown indicating that Oliver is targeted by a U.S. Government official who wants him dead that will no doubt be in the next installment.

I am a Camel Club fan but I realize that such suspense action books may not be for everyone. I do highly recommend the Camel Club audio for any long drives or monotonous work and you will probably be hooked.  One of the things I particularly like is that there aren't many graphic violent scenes such as other comparable suspense titles (The Emperor's Tomb comes to mind with horrific scenes of castration etc.) and are plotted better than any Brad Meltzer books IMHO plus the character development is better than most suspense novels. The Camel Club is a great series to try out if you haven't read suspense action books and would like to give them a try. 

Camel Club books in order: The Camel Club, The Collectors, Stone Cold, Divine Justine, Hell's Corner

Here is sample of the audio book that starts with Oliver in his caretaker cottage at Mt Zion cemetery:

David Baldacci discussing the book:

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Mystica said...

A new series for me.

A.F. Heart said...

I started listening to the series a few months ago at work and quickly got hooked.

Unknown said...

I've become addicted to the Camel Club's exploits. Great review of a great author.

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