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No longer at his earlier heights?
on 22 January 2008
I have read of lot of Baldacci, including one prior Camel Club effort. I have rated most of them highly, but I can't help feel that there's been a slide in quality. (I did not read the prequel to this one, however, so it may have lost some of its intended impact on me). Judging by other positive reviews, however, I am not going to bring the average rating down too much here with this somewhat negative review.
There are two sub-plots, one a conspiracy involving the past of one of the Camel Club members, and another involving the aftermath of a con-job executed by a Camel Club friend. They are unrelated, so I suspect both were there to make sure Baldacci could produce 400 pages - neither would have satisfied that test on its own.
It is an easy read without a great deal of real depth - but it has short, punchy chapters, some twists, and a lot of action to produce a good ride. But there are holes in the sub-plots, inaccuracies (which Baldacci admits to, to be fair) and a lot of coincidences to keep the plots moving. And there are bad guys at the highest levels of government, as usual, in an attempt to sustain interest. The writing is nothing special and there is little characterisation, although readers will have established favourites from the prequels.
In view of a couple of things that happen, the Camel Club will be different if Baldacci keeps it live. To me, however, the theme is wearing thin and Baldacci is struggling to come up with new ideas to keep the members actively engaged.
Here, I would say, he has just used too much licence to create his story and I suspect he will do more of the same next time. I would feel a lot better if Baldacci started with a new sheet to allow him to get back where he once was (then again, just prior to reading this book, I had finished a far-fetched Andrew Gross novel, and perhaps two of similar ilk, in a row, is one too many!). 7/10