I adore David Baldacci’s Amos Decker (Memory Man) series. I was also excited when he introduced a new protagonist, FBI agent Atlee Pine, last year in Long Road to Mercy.
The book ended up delving a little into conspiracies and spies and the like, so my excitement waned a little (as it’s not a topic of interest to me) but I really liked Pine and the support cast offered in the first of that series. There were a few changes to some of the key players in the new release, A Minute to Midnight, which I enjoyed more than its predecessor. I still loved Pine… and found the plot itself more engaging.
A Minute to Midnight
by David Baldacci
Series: Atlee Pine #2
Published by Macmillan
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Crime Fiction
Atlee Pine has spent most of her life trying to find out what happened that fateful night in Andersonville, Georgia. Her six-year-old twin sister, Mercy, was taken and Atlee was left for dead while their parents were apparently partying downstairs. One person who continues to haunt her is notorious serial killer, Daniel James Tor, confined to a Colorado maximum security prison. Does he really know what happened to Mercy?
The family moved away. The parents divorced. And Atlee chose a career with the FBI dedicating her life to catching those who hurt others. When she oversteps the mark on the arrest of a dangerous criminal, she's given a leave of absence offering the perfect opportunity to return to where it all began, and find some answers. But the trip to Andersonville turns into a roller-coaster ride of murder, long-buried secrets and lies.
And a revelation so personal that everything she once believed to be true is fast turning to dust.
I re-read my review of Long Road to Mercy before starting this and liked that Pine was not a petite little thing, and (on top of that) very athletic. There’s less mention of her bigger-than-usual frame here, other than reference to her athletic prowess and how she differs from her waif-like mother.
Again the book opens with Pine visiting the serial killer she thinks may have kidnapped her twin sister almost thirty years earlier. Her sister’s abduction was touched on in the first book and Pine obviously bears the scars and baggage from that time and later fallout involving her family. But here she dives right in along with her trusty admin worker (who I’m sure would give most FBI agents a run for their money) Carol Blum.
Pine is kicking over the past to see what comes loose when she (almost literally) stumbles across a murder. Although on holidays, Pine’s pulled into the investigation which becomes more complicated (and dare I say interesting… in a macabre way) when others are killed. A link is soon identified between the victims but the ‘why’ is the question.
In the background Pine and Blum are talking to the few people left in Andersonville who remember her parents. It’s only then she realises her own memories of the night her sister was abducted could be faulty and that her parents weren’t exactly the people she’d thought them to be.
I like the backstory Baldacci gives to Pine. Not just that she was almost a Olympic class weightlifter, but we learn here more about her waywardness when she was young, but then feeling an obligation to be her best self – in honour of her missing sister – and becoming quite the perfectionist.
I hadn’t remembered she’d worked at the FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU) but an old colleague pops up here to help with the (new) local deaths and we learn a bit about her time there as well.
Just a little spoiler alert… this disappearance of Mercy is progressed (significantly) but not resolved here so there will be more and I’m looking forward to more from Pine. (And Blum, as it happens!)
A Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci will be published in Australia by Pan Macmillan on 29 October 2019.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.