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27 October 2016

David Baldacci: No Man's Land (John Puller Novel 4)

Reality check needed when Baldacci ventures into "No Man's Land"
There are two stories, both of which started nearly thirty years ago.

John Puller's mother disappeared mysteriously then and despite an intensive search and investigation, she was never seen again. New evidence has just come to light that Puller's father, now a retired 3 star General suffering dementia, had secretly come home to Fort Monroe from overseas on the day his wife disappeared and is now a suspect in her disappearance.

John Puller is now a crack CID investigator with the Army and would be officially barred from working the case and face a court-martial if he disobeys orders. It is not in his nature to do nothing in a case affecting him and his family. When intelligence operative Veronica Knox, his old "friend" and ally on other cases turns up he knows that the case has far more ramifications than he realised.

Also thirty years ago something terrible happened to Paul Rogers which changed his life forever. As part of a top-secret project, based in Building Q of Fort Monroe, his body was altered to give him extreme strength, and resilience to pain so that he could perform superhuman tasks, including killing without any conscience. Rogers has just spent the last 10 years in jail for murder and with his parole determines to seek out and deliver vengeance to those who were responsible for his condition.

The stories involve huge coverups at the highest level which are continuing to the present day. Puller and Knox get pulled into the middle of this highly sensitive arena while Rogers is trying to hunt down the people who harmed him so long ago.  Baldacci carefully weaves together the stories until they converge.

I have read most of Baldacci's books and enjoy his writing. But this time I think he has stepped too far out of reality to get a top rating. You certainly need a need a reality check to enjoy some of the fantasy that Baldacci has created. IMHO the book has also been poorly edited as there are a lot of things that happen, especially at very high levels of government, that are not explained by the end of the book - maybe a consequence of meeting tough publication deadlines. In previous books in the John Puller series, there was an interesting personal relationship between Puller and Knox which was hardly an issue in this one.

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