Split Second Chapters 2 & 3

Chapter 2

Maxwell—I’ll give into Baldacci’s method and refer to them all by surnames now, that’ll keep away confusion when I quote—is pacing outside the door. She’s complaining about the music, saying that it would drive anyone who wasn’t already sad, depressed or suicidal already, to that end. She paces and keeps asking the other guys if they’re sure it was clean inside. They say yes and so she knocks on the door.

After waiting a bit more she went over to the door and knocked. “Mr. Bruno? We need to get going, sir.” There was no answer, and Michelle let out an inaudible sigh. She knew that the other agents in her detail, all of them her senior in years with the Service, were watching her intently to see how she’d handle herself. Only seven percent of the approximately 2,400 field agents were women, with very few in positions of authority. Yes, it was not easy.

Uh, no one suggested it wasn’t, mister narrator. But I’ll give Baldacci that, it’s a better bit of prose. It actually drives home that Maxwell is probably uncomfortable being a rare woman in the USSS. Let alone the scrutiny she gets for being young and already ahead of people that probably resent her a little. She knocks again and says if she doesn’t get a response they’re coming in.

Bruno’s voice says “just a minute” and she waits another two minutes. Then she asks another agent, Dickers, to try the door because it’s locked and he’s not responding. Dickers says that they’re off schedule and really need to get going. He gets the same response he would from a can of peas. This causes our brilliant agents to get slightly concerned. Then Maxwell decides that something needs to be done.

Again Michelle’s stomach muscles tightened. Something wasn’t right here. She motioned Dickers away from the door and knocked again. “Mr. Bruno, why did you lock the door, sir?” No answer. A bead of sweat broke on Michelle’s forehead. She hesitated for an instant, thinking rapidly, and then suddenly yelled though the door, “Sir, your wife is on the phone. There’s been a serious accident involving one of your kids.”

I can see why Maxwell has been advancing so fast. Everyone else hasn’t figured out you can lie to get a response from people. The response was, assuredly, “chilling”. Bruno says “Just a minute” again and Maxwell starts telling them to break down the door. If she hadn’t told them otherwise, they might have sat out there for another three hours while the recording inside told them “just a minute”.

They break in and to nobody’s surprise, they find no one in there but the deceased. That is to say, the dead man Bruno was coming to pay his respects to in the first place. I bet he’s just hiding underneath the corpse. He does that whenever he hears thunder.

Chapter 3

Michelle comes bursting out of the front door telling anyone who will listen that she wants the area locked down. Now Baldacci is referring to her as Michelle and not Maxwell. She start yelling about calling in reinforcements from anywhere and getting the FBI on “the horn”. Also, there are suddenly a bunch of reporters appearing because it would have been a great photo-op for Bruno.

Michelle grabs a random security guard and tells him to stop the funeral procession that’s leaving. I’ll give her style points in that she actually asks him if he’s security first before just ordering him around. He seems confused and she has to explain that, hey, maybe a funeral procession would be a good way to sneak out a kidnap victim.

He counters that there’s a dead guy in the hearse and she patiently explains to him, again, that would be a great place to hide someone who’s unconscious. Which is great, they’re not in a hurry or anything. You’d think an author who specialized in thrillers would know that having characters, even disposable ones, stop to chat really slows down any action.

With the dumbest security guard outside of a teen movie off to stop cars on foot, Michell grabs some guys and heads back inside. She goes back to the viewing room and asks the guy in there how it could have happened. He doesn’t get a name, by the way, but he’s a “vereran with the Service, a good agent”. I guess just being a veteran makes him a good agent? He says the place was clean, “Mick”, clean. Michelle says she often goes by Mick at work to make her seem like one of the boys. What? No jokes from her underlings saying “you gotta cut me Mick”?

They drag the funeral director in and he gets more description than Clyde did, paler than even a mortician should be. She asks if he’s sure that was Martin’s widow in there and he says he never saw her come in. She says she’ll need the number for his widow and that no one leaves until the FBI arrives. Michelle sends him away and they start looking around the room.

They finally start examining the coffin and the stand it’s on. There’s a hollow space that could have concealed someone and Michelle says she’s blown it. Then another nameless agent comes waltzing in with “some sort of digital recorder”. They figure that’s how they “generated” Bruno’s voice and that they, the kidnappers, must have recorded it somewhere. Then Michelle tells him to put it back where it was because she doesn’t need a lecture on the FBI about maintaining the integrity of the crime scene. Says the lady who dragged the mortician into it and hasn’t bothered to restrict access yet.

Another nameless agent finds a passage hidden behind some wall upholstery and that must have been their exit. They wonder why they didn’t hear anything and Michelle says how could they with the “death music” blaring out of the speakers. They go out the passage then drag the mortician back into the room and ask him about it. He says he didn’t know about it because they’ve only been there a few years, they couldn’t keep using their other building because it had been condemned, blah blah blah.

While I want to give Baldacci crap for this, I’ve seen people in interviews with authority figures. They tend to vomit all sorts of meaningless info when they’re nervous so I’ll give it a pass. She asks if he saw anything suspicious, he says no, and then she asks if anyone else saw anything.

He says he’ll check and Michelle says no, she will ask. He says he can assure her that this is a very respectable establishment, which is weird because no one said otherwise. Then she says they’ve got secret hallways and exit doors, aren’t they worried about security?

He looked at her blankly and then shook his head. “This isn’t some big city. There’s never any serious crime.”

Look, I don’t care how little crime goes on in your town, I’d be worried to find out my place of business had secret passages. She gets the phone number for Martin’s widow, calls it and receives no answer. She closes the chapter by standing alone in the room and saying that all her hard work has gone down the drain and she’s upset she didn’t get to take a bullet for her charge. I wonder if her and King—or will Baldacci call him Sean?—will bond over their similar trouble?

This entry was posted in Baldacci, Recap, Spork and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Split Second Chapters 2 & 3

  1. Pingback: Quick – Chapter 2 | Black Rose

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s