David Baldacci is one of my go-to authors. I’ve particularly enjoyed recent Memory Man (Amos Decker) and Atlee Pine series and though his latest, Simply Lies, could be a standalone novel I suspect – for several reasons – we will also meet data analyst / investigator and former cop Mickey Gibson again.Simply Lies
by David Baldacci
Published by Macmillan
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
Following a disastrous divorce, former New Jersey detective Mickey Gibson is now employed by a global investigation company, ProEye, to track down some of the extremely wealthy who seem bent on not paying their debts. Mickey misses police work but it has no place for her new role as the sole carer of two small children.
When Mickey is asked by Arlene Robinson, a colleague from ProEye, to inventory an old mansion owned by a notorious former arms dealer, she discovers a long-decomposed body in a secret room.
As the police investigation begins, they discover that there is no Arlene Robinson working for ProEye. Nor is there a mansion allegedly belonging to Novak. And the dead man is named as local wealthy recluse Daniel Pottinger.
Now begins an unusual and compelling cat-and-mouse contest between the two women - revealing more about Gibson, but much more about the woman with no name, no morals and no empathy, who seems to be able to convince anyone of anything.
The first clue we’ll see more of Mickey comes in the form of her backstory. When we’re introduced to the single mother she’s uncovered a trail of hidden bank accounts and set in motion a range of actions to have them shut down. We learn she’s moved into the private sector after her husband disappeared leaving her in the financial lurch. And given Mick tracks down people and money for a living and has some serious white hat-like computer skills, the fact she can’t locate her husband is a sure sign there’s a LOT more to that story.
Mick’s tricked by Arlene (who we get to know as Clarissa) into getting involved in a murder investigation and hunt for missing money and the pair work in tandem – though separately… never the twain shall meet kinda thing. Clarissa is angry with Mickey for some reason, as if there’s a shared history and she’s determined to get one over on her.
My head did spin a little the first time Baldacci switches to Clarissa’s point-of-view as there’s really no signal until you start reading and the narrator talks about Mickey. From then on however Baldacci easily lets us know whose head we’re in. The person we know as Clarissa is a fascinating character and involved in several scams. She’s most certainly a blackmailer, but then we learn more about some of her other exploits, all of which points to someone who’s motivated, cleverly cunning and (quite frankly) morally corrupt.
Baldacci introduces some additional texture here via Mick’s parents (her dad’s a former cop) and of course there’s Clarissa and her agenda. He also gives us a lot of intrigue via money launderers, mobsters and life-in-witness protection.
I must admit I got a little lost amidst the talk of NFTs, blockchain, metaverses and digital samples of famous artwork but appreciate that Baldacci is able to easily reference popular technological advancements and move with the times. Even if I’m not.
Despite not fully comprehending the technology, the why and whodunnit come down to the basics, though Baldacci throws in some surprises. It’s a reminder to be careful who we trust and how easily we can be duped.
I really liked Mickey. In addition to her complex backstory there’s a reference early in the novel that she should set up her own business, so that along with the way this book ends has me fairly certain we’ll meet her (and her partner… *wink wink*) again.
Simply Lies by David Baldacci was published in Australia by Pan Macmillan and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.