In David Baldacci’s Hell’s Corner, John Carr, aka Oliver Stone-once the most skilled assassin his country ever had-stands in Lafayette Park in front of the White House, perhaps for the last time. The president has personally requested that Stone serve his country again on a high-risk, covert mission. Though he’s fought for decades to leave his past career behind, Stone has no choice but to say yes.
Then Stone’s mission changes drastically before it even begins. It’s the night of a state dinner honoring the British prime minister. As he watches the prime minister’s motorcade leave the White House that evening, a bomb is detonated in Lafayette Park, an apparent terrorist attack against both leaders. It’s in the chaotic aftermath that Stone takes on a new, more urgent assignment: find those responsible for the bombing.
British MI-6 agent Mary Chapman becomes Stone’s partner in the search for the unknown attackers. But their opponents are elusive, capable, and increasingly lethal; worst of all, it seems that the park bombing may just have been the opening salvo in their plan. With nowhere else to turn, Stone enlists the help of the only people he knows he can trust: the Camel Club. Yet that may be a big mistake.
In the shadowy worlds of politics and intelligence, there is no one you can really trust. Nothing is really what it seems to be. And Hell’s Corner truly lives up to its name. This may be Oliver Stone’s and the Camel Club’s last stand.
David Baldacci’s authoritative legal thrillers operate on the irresistible notion that a sinister undercurrent threads through the country’s most powerful institutions.
While his stories hinge on the complex machinations behind the presidency, the FBI, the Supreme Court and other spheres of influence, Baldacci (a former Washington, D.C.-based attorney) finds his way into a mystery through the eyes of the innocents. Semi-innocents, at least: small players who often don’t realize they’re players at all end up hunting down answers, and their hunt becomes the reader’s.
According to Baldacci, reading John Irving’s The World According to Garpconvinced him that he wanted to be a novelist. Absolute Power — in which a thief finds himself accidentally connected to a murder involving the president and the ensuing coverup — was hardly Irvingesque; but it did begin Baldacci’s friendly relationship with the bestseller lists, which has continued over his writing career.
Baldacci’s style is brief and plot-driven, but he’s not afraid to linger on macabre and vivid details, such as a rosary clenched in a plane crash victim’s hand, or hard-learned lessons from a sniper’s life (pack your food so you can find it at night, by touch). These small but memorable — indeed, almost cinematic — details give his books another layer that distinguishes them from the average potboiler.
Although the author has occasionally departed from his usual fare (examples include the tenderhearted coming-of-age tale Wish You Well and the holiday-themed adventure The Christmas Train), it is high-octane thrillers that are his true stock in trade. Whether it’s a taut stand-alone or a new installment in his Camel Club series, readers know when they crack the spine of a new Baldacci book, they’re in for an action-packed page-turner.