A series of brutal murders darkens the Wrightsburg, Virginia countryside. The killer, replicating notorious murders of the past, seeks to improve them, while taunting the police by leaving watches on the victims set to the hour corresponding with their position on his hit list. When Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are called to join the case, they are already investigating a crime involving an aristocratic and dysfunctional Southern family. But, as they soon discover, the two cases may be connected. The tension is further increased by a second killer who is copying the crimes of the first. King and Maxwell must discover their identities before the body count increases even more.
This was actually the second of three books of Baldacci’s I’ve read, the other two were good, but The Hour Game was easily my favorite. My dad was the one who recommended that I read these three, and I was surprised because never in my life had I seen him read a mystery. The books were actually given to him by my uncle who is a follower of Baldacci’s novels. The book was about 700 pages long, but it only took me three days to read, which must say something about how much I enjoyed it.
I think the way this book was written is the key to why I was so attracted to it. Baldacci has a fairly unique and captivating writing style. He always keeps his reader interested with sudden twists, and never allows one thing to drag, or he doesn’t dwell on one subject longer than necessary. Something is always happening in the novel. Another thing I admired in his writing was that he allowed his reader to create their own conception of what the characters and scene looked like. A lot of times when I read, the author will have these long descriptive paragraphs on what a tree looks like or how someone walks. Baldacci gives a very basic description that allows him to characterize, but still leave room for his reader’s natural assumptions of what someone may look like.
The characterization of the people was another thing I thought was very interesting. Certain chapters of the book were seen through the serial killers eyes, where we could learn what he was thinking in doing, but without actually learning his identity. This allowed the author to characterize him without revealing who he was and ruin the mystery. It made it very fascinating when the identity of the killer was revealed, and we found that it was another character that had been involved since nearly the beginning. After that it was actually difficult to think about, because it was like combining the personalities of two people who have suddenly become one.
One thing I did not like about the book was the details of the mystery. In each of the three I read the whole story came together near the end, where all the pieces were suddenly coming into place, but it is written so that the reader cannot possibly solve it since certain things are left out. It makes one think that they might have it solved, but an extra fact or person is introduced right before the mystery is solved. Although I didn’t like how that was done, it didn’t make me think anything less of the actual story.
The Hour Game is one of my favorite books now. Reading it made me realize how important the particular styles of writers are to my enjoyment. Finding a good book to read is usually a problem for me, but if I find a writer that I really like, then it is a lot simpler. One of the things I worry about in British literature is that I won’t like, or be accustomed to the way these authors write. Even if a book has a good plot, it can be ruined by a poor delivery of this story. I feel that older styles of writing will be more difficult to follow, and I won’t get as much out of the book as I should have.
Make no mistake, The Hour Game is, by high standards, a paint by numbers book. From the way I see it, it has a great heart. It's a guilty pleasure. Not because of sappy romance, but its cliched style, not because of its willful body count, but because of the innocent prose, not because of its sexual murders (there aren't any here), but because I'm confident that Baldacci tried to write in a different hand and couldn't quite pull it off.
The most distinctive trait of this book is that the chapter endings are so lame. I may have missed some double entendre, but I won't bet on it. The book is very pious considering the subject matter. It seems like an old book from the 70's or so. What removes this illusion is the characterization of its main villain. Some of his motives seem nonsensical, but he as a person rings true. Having said that, I luckily did see through the mystery in a flash of lucidity. As for the second murderer, I can take no credit for that as it was very plainly obvious. This was the exceptional book where a cruel murder hasn't taken place in fine Baldacci style. This is why I think the author was experimenting to stay fresh. As a fan, I think he did accomplish much of his intent.
PS - You know, it's frustrating to write a book review after outputting more than 300 of them. Especially if you look like you're going downhill quality-wise. Choosing which book to read is almost as perilously cerebral. Nothing can be guaranteed. I thank my readers(all two of them!) of their interest in my reviews. I await next year with languorous trepidation.
This book brings back Secret Service Agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell. Only this time they are former agents who have founded their own Private Investigation firm. They are hired to prove the innocence of a man that has been charged with burglarizing the wealthest family in town, the Battles. But rather quickly you will see that this investigation takes a back seat. For our two detectives are brought in as deputies to help solve a quickly growing number of murders by a serial killer.
I found the investigation to be run in an authentic manner. And a good level of detail. There is some misdirection in the book, that makes it hard to detrmine the killer ahead of time. But I was able to determine the who at the very end before the detectives mentioned it, but not the why. But Baldacci does a good job of tying up all the loose ends. Though the book screams for a sequel. Have a good read...I did.
Two disgraced Secret Service Agents team up to investigate a burglary. The plot quickly evolves into a series of copy-cat murders. If you pick this book up, cancel your plans. You won’t put it down until you reach the surprise finish.
The story starts out with King and Maxwell near the end of a long dry spell for work. A local handy man is accused of robbery and K & M are hired to find out if he's innocent. Shortly after that several grisly murders are discovered in the area and since it is a relatively small town and Maxwell found the first body the local Sheriff asks them to help in the investigation. What is interesting is the two unrelated cases seem to have more and more in common as time goes by. But at the same time the body count continues to rise, more pressure is put on everyone and the populace of the little town is starting to panic. Who's next on the killer spree? Can K & M catch the killer/s before he/she strikes again?
Overall I enjoyed this book it really kept up the pace and helped the miles fly by while I was driving. I wasn't real sure who the killer was until near the end but the likely suspect list was rather short. I didn't rate this as a great book because it wasn't, even Baldacci's 'The Camel Club' books are a step above but it was still a gripping read none the less.
A woman is found murdered in the woods. It seems like a simple case but it soon escalates into a terrible nightmare. Someone is replicating the killing styles of the most infamous murderers of all time. No one knows this criminal's motives...or who will die next.
Two ex-Secret Service agents, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, have been hired to defend a man's innocence in a burglary involving an aristocratic, dysfunctional family. Then a series of secrets leads the partners right into the frantic hunt that is confounding even the FBI. Now King and Maxwell are playing the Hour Game, uncovering one horrifying revelation after another and putting their lives in danger. For the closer they get to the truth, the closer they get to the most shocking surprise of all.
David Baldacci's Hour Game, the second in the King and Maxwell series, starts off like that. In fact, it looks like the killer might be a Zodiac copycat but that theory goes out the window when another body appears using another infamous murderer' M.O.
But this is not the case ex-Secret Service Agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, who have started a P.I. business together have been hire to investigate. Their case is investigating a burglary at the house of a very prominent Southern family called The Battles. Honestly, King and Maxwell are trying to reinforce if the suspect for the burglary did the actual crime.
Now, does this home invasion crime connect with the serial killings going on? Yes! Yes they connect, converge, and overlap into 500 pages of an intense old fashioned murder mystery. The character of Sean King definitely reminded me of Columbo multiple times during this book.
Baldacci knows how to captivate and draw me into his narrative. He did it with Split Second and achieved it again with Hour Game. These books are big but so addicting they go by quickly. I knew things were going to get very intricate and complex when I had to draw my own Battle Family map along with acquaintances. Everybody who was introduced was somehow connected with the Battle Family.
My only complaint is that I wish Michelle had more to do. I know from the duo that she's the braun so have her be exceptional at it like King is exceptional at being the brains. Her abilities seem to have backpedal from Split Second.
The book is a bit aggravating at first, as Baldacci throws in three separate story lines. When all of these plot lines converge, the story turns into an action packed, twist-laden mystery/thriller that brings out Sean and Michelle's completely different personalities. The story is filled with quite a few surprises and the characters are a bit over the top, but it was lots of fun too. The plot was well done and just the right amount of action. It's a fast read that will entertain you for a few hours.