A burglar in the bedroom of a mansion has his work interrupted by the arrival of the mistress of the house with the president of the U.S. The couple have a fight and she is killed. The burglar flees, taking along a blood-stained letter opener as evidence, but is spotted by presidential bodyguards. The White House chief-of-staff, an ambitious woman, has him tracked and killed, but not before the burglar has told his story to a lawyer. The lawyer realizes he is next, but how to save oneself from the government? A first novel.
The thing is, I couldn't wrap my head around the basic premise. A cat burglar, Luther Whitney, is trapped in a vault with a one-way mirror when people unexpectedly arrive at a mansion he was robbing. Two people enter the bedroom--and one is the charismatic president of the United States, Alan J. Richmond. Whitney watches as the married president begins to have sex with a woman not his wife. Sex that turns into an assault that turns into an attack on the president that ends with his calling for help bringing in two Secret Service agents who shoot and kill the woman. Do they call the police in? No, both agents participate in a cover up.
And you know what? I don't buy it. Do I buy the Secret Service would kill to protect the life of the United States President. Sure. It's their job. Do I buy an American president could be involved in an extra-marital affair and the Secret Service stays silent? Sure. They're supposed to keep the president's private life private. Do I buy his Chief of Staff and other political hangers on might cover up anything including murder? Sure. Just look at recent history and headlines about American presidents and candidates and aspirants to the office such as President Richard Nixon, President Bill Clinton, Presidential candidate John Edwards and president wannabe and ex-governor Eliot Spitzer. But Secret Service agents aren't political hacks. They don't work for the man, they work for the office. They'll take a bullet for the president--they train to make it muscle memory. But would they risk covering up a killing? Not just one, but two on the scene? (And would they really not check out every single place a potential assassin could be hiding like that vault?) Well, a better writer might have sold me on it, but as a premise for what's otherwise routine potboiler? Well, two hours watching the movie with a Clint Eastwood is one thing. But I didn't want to devote over 12 hours to a book where the premise from the start just struck me as screwy and the writing was less than stellar.
The woman is with her lover and the sex begins to get rough. The man cannot perform due to his intoxication and when the woman ridicules him, there is a struggle. She picks up a letter opener and as she approaches the man, two other men break into the room. When the Secret Service men see she's about to stab the President, they shoot and kill her.
They attempt to sanatize the room but overlook the letter opener which Luther noticed, the President had touched so has his prints on it. Luther takes this and escapes.
The Secret Service realize they don't have the letter opener and they rush back to the room to get it and see it's gone.
David Baldacci ratches up the mood as the Secret Service tries to cover their tracks and Luther attempts to set something in motion that will expose the President's hand in the murder and the political corruption.
We follow the hunted and await the death knell as the realistic characters collide in their attempt to hide, or for others, to unearth the truth.
A crime takes place in the beginning of this novel that involves the President, the Secret Service, and the Chief of Staff. As the story unfolds these people will do anything and stop anyone that would jeapordize the presidency. Since Luther Whitney somehow is the only witness to the unfortunate event he finds himself not sure who to confide in. His daughter Kate is an attorney for the Commonwealth, but since their relationship has been strained for so long he wouldn't know where to begin explaining what happened. Kate was engaged to a nice young man named Jack Graham who was also a lawyer. Luther found a respect for Jack that gave him the courage to leave a trail for Jack to learn about the President's actions.
Before Luther and Kate are dropped back into Jack's life, everything seems to be going perfect for him. He is engaged to Jennifer, who happens to be the daughter of one of the most powerful and wealthiest families in Washington. When Jack sees his future father-in-law rubbing elbows with the President of the United States he somehow knows deep down that he will never fit into the same social circle that Jennifer is a part of. When Jack starts to help Luther Whitney with his dilemma he finds himself drawn to the simple, but yet happy life that he led when he was with Kate.
We learn a lot about the many characters within this story. The Secret Service men involved in the crime both seem to be good men, but victims of political circumstances. Burton is the family man that has been married for over twenty years and has two kids at home. When he finds himself having to take control of the situation he doesn't know how he can ever face his family again. Collins is an agent who has put his life on the line before and will not hesitate to do it again. He somehow loses sight of his goals as he becomes entwined in a passionate affair.
There were so many unpredictable twists and turns in this audiobook that I really was unsure of how it could possibly end. If you are interested in listening to an action packed political thriller then this book would be a great choice for you! I've also just started paying attention to who is narrating audiobooks, and I have heard many bloggers mention Scott Brick as being a fabulous reader. Well you can add my name to that list of bloggers because while I was listening to this book I found his voice very engaging and WOW, does he build suspense! Please keep in mind that this rating is for the audioversion.
Thrillers like these will always keep you turning the pages. Pure and simple entertainment.
I loved this part-thriller, part-police-procedural, part-court-room-drama (and all parts equally well done); this was my first Baldacci, and definitley won't be my last.
Five stars aren't enough!
Book summary interested me and I rarely read this type of book but like to switch things up every now and then.
Luther has broken into houses and had served his time. Once he gets out he does it again a place where he was in before, with others.....
Interesting to learn of all the devices and technology for home security, but it's no barrier to Luther. he was there to get the diamond necklace but he found the mirror glass that looked into her bedroom.
Story also follows Jack, a lawyer and his fiance, Jennifer. Political groupies and the president is the one who takes care of the whores that run to him. Problem is this time things didn't go as planned. His body guards did come to his aide.
They weren't the only ones to see the scene or the actions as they happened....the president is a married man and the woman was married, but not to him.
Story follows those in charge as they try the case and the proceedings that happen...Luther has taken it upon himself to gather the evidence and given it to another who, after his death will mail the items to his lawyer.
A lot of people are put in harms way....lots of action and adventure.
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).
Luther Whitney is a master burglar. For the last twenty years, he's tried to keep his nose clean. But he pulls one last job for an old friend. He breaks in without incident, but is suddenly forced to hide when the owner and some others come home. He is stunned when the unthinkable happens - even more unbelievable is the perpetrator - the President of the United States.
Luther turns to lawyer Jack Graham - the ex boyfriend of his estranged daughter.
What a great premise for a story! And Baldacci does it masterfully. The plotting is tight and the action non stop. I enjoyed discovering Baldacci's 'beginning.' He has made the secret service/White House thriller genre his own.
But the reader in this case was fantastic. Scott Brick is an award winning audio book narrator. His voice is rich and resonant, conveying the suspense of this novel, keeping me on the edge of my chair. His voice conveys so much, from the malevolence of the bad guys to the uncertainty of a bewildered daughter.
There was a bonus short story included on the last disc (17!) of this set. I didn't realize that this book had been made into a movie starring Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman in 1997.
The book starts with an aging burglar, Luther, breaking into a billionaire's well protected mansion. He is suprised, but not caught by none other than the President of the good ol'USA. Who happens to be with the billionaire's young wife. Luther who is hidden in a safe with a two-way mirror, watches as the President starts to beat on the young woman. The woman in an act of self preservation, grabs a letter opener and stabs the President. The ensuing struggle and yell from the President, brings the very effective Secret Service Agents into the room. Where they shoot and kill her.
The scheming Chief of Staff hatches a quick course of action to start a cover up. But no one is aware of Luther who has watched the whole horrid affair. The story begins to pick up speed when Luther decides he has do what is right and set things straight.
You can tell this is Mr. Baldacci's first book. But worth the read. I read Total Control first, and find that book of a much higher quality. I think he will only improve with each book he writes. There were parts in this book where I just had to read one more section before I put it down.
In and of itself, the premise and setup are great. The various overlaps of characters will obviously have everyone circling one another. But this audiobook has broken my reading rules and not gotten going soon enough for my liking. Others may find it more rewarding, but I just found it to have too much exposition.
Highly recommended - and I'll be seeking out other books by this author.
Baldacci doesn't let the pace up in this crime novel about the President and Secret Services trying to cover up a murder.
The story unfolds as the thief who it turns out has a good heart if not a bad habit tries to bring to justice the individual who committed the murder. The subplots of the thief's life and the personal relationships that unfold hold together fairly well and become a story unto themselves and not just page filler. The turn of events that lead to the conclusion will leave you wanting more after the final page is turned.
The author has not in my opinion captured the suspense and excellent writing he developed in this story. If there is just one book from this author to read I would highly suggest this title.