Split Second Chapters 62 & 63

Chapter 62

One of the more common cheats in suspense stories is hidden knowledge. It’s not uncommon in any genre, really but it becomes the meat and potatoes in shitty thrillers and mysteries. The author will have the character see something, like a person or a bit of evidence, but the author saves it for what they think is a clever reveal.

That’s not to say that any time the author withholds information that it’s a cheap ploy. The audience can’t know everything at all times or there wouldn’t be any suspense. It’s all in the presentation.

In this case, having King find the inscription was fine. King is a detective, he should be detecting things at a potential crime scene. But if it so transparent that you can’t show the audience, then it doesn’t exactly speak to the intelligence of your characters. Baldacci could have made it work if he’d made it a cryptic clue that only King could have figured out.

After finding nothing in the bunker, King and Michelle drive back. King sulks and goes silent so that Michelle will pester him and get him talking. She gets upset when he transforms into a clam and says she thought they were partners. King stops her from leaving and asks if she has access to the USSS database.

“I think so. I had a friend of mine slow–walk my admin leave papers. Actually, after they let me take my vacation time, I’m not sure what my status is. But I can find out quickly enough. I have my laptop back at the inn; I’ll log on and check it out. What do you need to know?” When he told her, she looked very surprised. “What does that have to do with anything?”

Great, so now the two protagonists know what’s going on. How long until we get to know Baldacci? Are you going to hold that back until the cleaning staff at the Whitehouse know as well? Michelle says it’s worth a shot and then asks if King has a gun. When he says he doesn’t, Michelle hands him one.

King then goes to his old office and we get a facefull of description about the place. Here’s some news for you, Baldacci. If fucks were currency, I’d make Scrooge look like he was bleeding cash from every pore.

So what’s King doing at his old office? Stealing some old supplies or maybe taking a crap on his old partner’s desk for screwing King over? He’s looking for a list of lawyers in California and finds exactly what he’s looking for, again, while keeping it secret. This had better not turn out to be an elaborate birthday surprise.

But wait, there’s more! King then goes to a university library and talks to a librarian. They have an online service which he can use to do more research! Research that King doesn’t share with us. Could you get anymore vague, Baldacci? Here, I’ve got the next chapter all done for you. ‘King did some stuff which didn’t further the plot but did inform him. He also shared that info with other characters but not with anyone else because screw the audience.’

King is almost sure but he calls Holmgren to confirm that this guy is who he’s looking for. We finally learn that he’s looking for the defense lawyer who cut Ramsey a deal. Because there’s nothing more dangerous than a lawyer who can cut a plea bargain.

Chapter 63

Rejoining Michelle, she’s back at the “inn” and looking over the files of Scott. And here I thought that it was clear they weren’t the right files. Or that they were only a portion of the right files which explains the warrant.

Michelle watches the server come in with her hand on her gun. The room is very “sumptuous”, by the way. After Baldacci gets done beating off his keyboard like a thirteen year old who just discovered lotion, Michelle sits down to do her research.

She sat cross–legged on the floor, hooked up her computer to the very new–looking data phone line in the wall behind the reproduction eighteenth–century writing desk and went to work on King’s unusual request. As she’d predicted, the answer to his query wasn’t on the Secret Service’s database. She started making calls to Service colleagues. On the fifth try she found someone who could help. She gave the man the information King had given her.

Look, Baldacci. If I wanted to watch people jack off on their computer, I’d go to Starbucks. Michelle doesn’t find what she wants in the computer system so she starts making calls. On the fifth call, she gets the information she’s also looking for. Would you guess that Baldacci gives us the finger and we don’t learn anything? That’s because you haven’t been digging for nose gold with an ice pick unlike Baldacci.

Michelle then calls King and we learn a little bit more. That the wall carving was the name of a village where “he” was held in prison in Vietnam. Then the big reveal is that it was Bob Scott, the man they were looking for. Wow, that was so…stupid. Now if Baldacci had had the brains to put a red herring in the beginning to make us suspect Scott, that would be news. As it stands, that was incredibly pointless.

Michelle then goes over Joan’s notes. This makes Michelle speculate about Joan and King’s relationship. Michelle feels a little bit of jealousy and then starts examining the notes more closely. She notices Denby’s name and decides that Joan wrote him off too soon.

Then Parks calls and they talk about how Scott was probably held prisoner in his own home. They decide to meet later to talk some more and then we focus over to the villains. They’re relistening to Michelle’s conversation and then Buick tells them they have to do “it” tonight. Please, Buick, kill Michelle so hard that her name is erased from every page on this book.

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