Readers who have been holding their breath since the end of Stone Cold (2007), the previous Camel Club novel, can inhale: Oliver Stone did survive his plunge into the water. For the uninitiated, Baldacci’s Oliver Stone isn’t the noted film director; he’s a former government assassin who has made a risky living foiling government conspiracies. Now, having eluded capture after committing a pair of necessary assassinations, Stone (or John Carr, if you prefer to use his real name) is on the run, hiding out in rural America, where he discovers that small-town intrigue is at least as intricate and dangerous as anything he’s come up against previously. Combining the Camel Club series’ wit and fast pace with a Fugitive-like story (casting Stone as Richard Kimble, the man on the run who risks his life to protect the lives of strangers), Baldacci shows once again that he is a sort of thriller Renaissance man: a master of plot, dialogue, and character. It’s fascinating to observe how Stone operates when he’s entirely on his own, too. Not only is he evading his pursuers, especially Macklin Hayes, whose obsessive determination to capture Stone may be based more on personal reasons than professional ones, but he’s also cast himself adrift from his comrades, who are working feverishly behind the scenes to find him and keep him safe. A rousing success, although this should come as no surprise to faithful Baldacci readers.
This review originally appeared in Booklist, October 2008.