Split Second Chapters 28 & 29

Chapter 28

Did you know we’re not even halfway through this book? It’s that obnoxiously long. I’ve given Paolini a lot of crap for wasting time but Baldacci is gunning for his trophy. If I had to place him somewhere on the scale of wasting time, he’d be right between Paolini and Meyer. With Meyer on the heavier end of boredom.

Michelle and King are being interrogated. And when this narrator says interrogated, you know that means they’re zip-tied to a metal bed frame, having a few million volts shoved through them. Or they’re being asked questions and not allowed to leave. Pretty much the kind of thing you might expect when you’re taken into custody.

They tell them that there was another man in a truck and that Michelle believes him to be Bruno’s kidnapper. They laugh and then Michelle’s boss appears. Being the chief, he gets right up in her ass while yelling and screaming. He says she’s being stupid, investigating things that don’t concern her and hanging out with King. Then he calls Sean king of the losers and this pisses King off.

“Careful, Walt,” said King. “I won a libel case and I can win a slander case, and the pleasure it would give me to pickle your teeny–weeny dick in a jar, I can’t begin to tell you.”

“I’ll have your soul!” Bishop roared.

I like Bishop’s attitude. Maybe it’s the constant yelling at protagonists I hate or maybe it’s his desire to collect souls. Either way I’d like to follow him around for awhile. They argue and insult each other for a bit before Bishop starts telling Michelle that he told her not to leave her jurisdiction. Michelle says she didn’t she just went to North Carolina in her truck for a vacation.

Michelle then says they helped them catch “those convicts”. I assume she means those henchmen she knocked out earlier. Then the local Sherriff starts talking, saying they haven’t had a murder in their county since Clyde. He says she admitted it was her money stuffed in Loretta’s mouth. King jumps in, asking what the motive is, because everyone knows you can’t murder without an obvious motive. He can’t really come up with on, says they have her statement and says she can go.

King asks a few pointless questions of the Sherriff about the hotel and then asks for the name of the security company that works out there. Rural Sherriff is confused and king quickly ignores it and moves on, asking Parks how he got down there so fast. Parks says he has men following King which he says must be boring. Parks says it is and then King asks if he’s gotten enough evidence to arrest him yet.

Michelle says that there’s something she has to tell him about this case that’s important. Namely, that the guy she saw driving the truck was the same guy she saw at the funeral home. Parks says to tell it to the FBI as it’s their case. Michelle won’t do this because only named characters are competent enough to do anything about it. Then Parks tells King to stop mouthing off as he already has enough evidence to arrest him and asks if King is heading back to Virginia. For those in suspense, King is actually headed to Tahiti.

Chapter 29

After an amazingly short sojourn to the Caribbean isles, King and Michelle are headed back to Virginia. Michelle says that no one believe her but she saw what she saw and she’ll make them all pay one day, damn it! King says he believes her because a Secret Service agent never forgets a face. Right up until they do, and then it’s because they’re in disguise or something incredibly stupid.

Page break to King’s house where Joan is pacing in front of his house. Pacing is one of those things I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen anyone do. Maybe it’s the kind of thing people used to do, back before TV and smartphones provided handy distractions and the only books around were all in Latin. Whatever the case, it just seems a bit silly that Joan would be marching back and forth in front of King’s house in the warmer months when there are biting bugs about. Personally, I’d be sitting in my car reading a book or thumbing a magazine.

Michelle says “Ms. Dillinger” doesn’t look happy. You know, I might have missed it but, thankfully, we have Michelle’s USSS training and sharp wits to interpret it for us. Other authors have to show us subtly how someone’s annoyed but Baldacci can skip all that troublesome work and tell us flat out. ‘My character is upset, also they don’t like tacos.’

They get out and Joan immediately starts demanding to know where he was and badgering him. King says he had somewhere else to be, being evasive the whole time. Then Michelle steps out and Joan begins eyeballing her like Michelle just grabbed the last free donut. Which is weird, considering that Joan had to have noticed that King got out of the passenger seat and that, clearly, someone else had driven. I wonder if this is supposed to be an example of the eagle eyed stare of a former USSS agent.

Now, being as we have two women with names they have to passively fight over King. To be fair, Michelle isn’t really fighting over King but Joan is making weak, catty remarks and Michelle is letting them get a rise out of her.

“Uh–huh.” Joan touched Michelle on the elbow. “Michelle, would you excuse us? I have something to talk about with Sean that’s very important.”

“Oh, no problem. I’m pretty beat anyway.”

“Sean has that effect on lots of women. In fact, he could even be considered hazardous to some people’s health.”

The two women engaged in a stare–down. “Thanks for the tip, but I can take care of myself,” said Michelle.

Why, Baldacci? I get that King is a bit of an avatar for Baldacci and the idea that more than one woman in the world that would touch his junk, without the incentive of cash, is flattering. People like to be found attractive, it’s a desire that crosses men and women both. That’s why Zoey is pursued by every guy in the series and King is about to start a cat fight. But I can still hate it.

It makes all the characters look incredibly stupid. Like Joan couldn’t just accept that, hey, it’s been eight years and maybe King moved on. Or Heath never realizing that maybe Zoey just isn’t the girl for him. Or that they can’t possibly get along with someone who could end up screwing the person they want to sleep with.

After more snide remarks that aren’t clever in the slightest, Michelle drives off while King and Joan go inside. Joan wants to know what’s going on with Michelle and doesn’t believe it’s any coincidence that she showed up. King says he was at the hotel and Joan figures that they were investigating the assassination of Clyde. They argue for a moment wondering what it all means and decide to ignore it for the time being as will we.

King asks about what details they have if he joins the team. Joan decides to share information even though he hasn’t technically said yes. There’s a list of people they have to talk to including a Sidney Morse. I forget what his role in the whole thing was, because Baldacci build such strong worlds, but he was somewhere in authority in the USSS and now he’s in an asylum. King says they should probably verify that and asks her about theories. Joan says they have some and that he may already be dead. King says that complicates things and Joan says not really, they get paid either way.

There’s some talk about enemies but they finally come around to wondering if it wasn’t done for the fun of it. I guess assassins and kidnappers do it for the lolz. They figure there must have been someone in the Secret Service who was helping out the kidnappers. King says they’ll have to explore those leads after he’s had a shower. He goes upstairs and opens the door, noticing that it’s feels heavier than it should. When he investigates, he notices that his ex-wife has been stabbed and mounted to the door. And so Baldacci ends the chapter there, leaving us with a dead woman just hanging out in King’s bathroom. Hurray for cliffhangers.

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