David Baldacci is hailed as one of the masters of the detective novel. He is excellent at weaving together a complicated and intriguing plot and inhabiting it with interesting characters. In Split Second, he also becomes a bit Shakespearean by including some mistaken identity as the story winds its way to a stunning conclusion.
Sean King, small town lawyer and former Secret Service Agent, is reluctantly drawn into a case that parallels one that caused his exit from the Secret Service eight years earlier. His protectee, a candidate for the US Presidency, was assassinated in broad daylight at a political rally. Though there were many factors involved, the blame fell on King.
Michelle Maxwell, a young Secret Service agent on the fast track, has her protectee, also a presidential candidate kidnapped. Agent Maxwell’s investigation reveals similarities to Sean King’s case and she contacts him for some consolation and advice.
King and Maxwell are drawn together as the investigation proceeds because the crimes ended their careers in the Secret Service and they become convinced that the two incidents are somehow connected. They are also surprised to find that although the incidents occurred eight years apart, the same background cast of characters seems to be involved.
The pair grinds their way through a plethora of possible suspects, theories of the crimes, dead ends, red herrings and mysterious people. There are other murders along the way and both Sean and Michelle barely escape life threatening attacks during the investigation. The culprits are finally revealed along with their surprise accomplices and the motive behind the perpetrator’s actions.
Although I generally like Mr. Baldacci’s books, in my opinion he has overloaded Split Second with too many plot intrigues and superfluous characters. I found it difficult to keep up with who was doing what to whom. I sometimes, in frustration, put the book down after getting lost in the mélange of people being tossed into the plot pot. Many times, I had to reread parts of a chapter in an effort to keep track of the complications.
Mr. Baldacci has his many fans but Split Second is not an easy read. If you like a gang of characters and a twisted plot that frequently goes awry; you will probably like Split Second. However, when I finished the book I was exhausted. I was simply thankful that I had been able to endure to the end to discover “Who Done It”.