Here’s something of a shock, Baldacci starts the chapter off with King consulting a “security firm”. Would you believe we’re not told why or what he wants from them? This is Baldacci trying to setup something he considers incredibly clever. Going by his past record, it’ll be so stupid no one reading will be able to guess what King has planned because everyone is smarter than Baldacci.
Here’s what we do know. King ordered it and wants it put in his house. The consultant he’s talking to asks if King is the guy who found the dead body recently. King says yes and here’s his response.
“Okay, but just so we’re straight, our warranty doesn’t cover stuff like that. I mean, if another dead body turns up, you don’t get a refund or anything like that. That’s like an act of God, okay?”
Call me crazy but I wouldn’t call finding a dead body an “act of god”. Also, any company that tells you dead bodies are explicitly excluded in their warranty have a reason. That’s the kind of line that seem almost as suspicious as a clause that indemnifies them against assault by a gorilla SWAT team.
A page break later, King starts thinking about telling Michelle what’s going on, Yes, please do. I’d like to know what’s going on too. King decides against it because fuck the audience and calls Kate. Kate’s roommate answers and says that she hasn’t been home. King tells her to call him if she turns up. Then we get the most exciting paragraph in the entire book.
He hung up and stared out the big window at the lake. Normally when in a funk, he’d go out on the boat and think, but it was too chilly and windy for that. He turned on the gas fireplace, sat down in front of it and ate a simple meal. By the time he’d convinced himself to call Michelle he figured the hour was too late.
Wow. This is exactly like that moment in the ‘A Study in Scarlet’ where Sherlock sits around and stares at a fire while thinking about doing something. Taking another cue from Doyle, Baldacci has King start thinking about the kidnapping of Bruno once again. It’s clear that Baldacci is paying a very strong homage to Doyle.
King thinks that maybe kate misheard the man talking to her father. That maybe he didn’t say “Thornton Jorst” but “Trojan horse”. That makes thinks so much more clear, Baldacci. Clearly it’s the Greeks who kidnapped Bruno in order to convince the American’s to bomb the city of Troy and win the war, albeit a few years late.
King then wonders why Kate mentioned that Berkeley let Ramsey get his PhD because he’s already earned it. Why had she mentioned it, King wonders. Because she was throwing things out there to shut you up? I’m half tempted to confess to the kidnapping if it’ll stop the narration.
King then locks up and goes to his room. He pulls out a sock, fills it with cottage cheese and imagines Michelle is seducing him. Or he shoves his dresser up against the door as added insurance. He also chambers a round in the gun Michelle gave him and puts it on the nightstand before going to sleep.
In which a person aims a gun through a window at a mass on a bed and fires. No really, that’s how Baldacci starts this one off.
It was 2:00 A.M., and the person at the window raised a gun, took aim at the bulky figure lying in the bed and shot through the window, the glass tinkling as it broke. The slugs tore into the bed, blowing feathers into the air from the down comforter.
Lucky for us Michelle was sleeping on the couch. If that bout of convenience hadn’t happened, we might have lost a beloved character. The internet would have exploded with protests and petitions. I wouldn’t risk that either, Baldacci. Michelle is awoken and fully alert by the gunshots so she draws her weapon and returns fire. She hears her attacker running away and wonders if it’s the guy she shot in the truck. Pfft, what are the odds Michelle?
So why did the chapter start with the unidentified shooter on the outside? If I wanted to make this more exciting, which would be hard because Baldacci is the master, I would have had it start with the gunshots. Start with Michelle’s point of view and at the moment she first tumbles out of bed because she hears the gunshots.
Michelle then wonders why they’re trying to kill her. She figures King had learned more than her and she starts to worry about him. She calls his number and he doesn’t answer. HE could be sleeping heavily but Michelle knows better. She decides against calling the police, probably due to genre awareness, and drives off in her truck.
Flash over to King who wakes up because of an “alarm”. He instantly wakes up because protagonists aren’t weak like us everyday people. He notices smoke everywhere and runs to the bathroom. He wets a washrag and holds if over his face because if he’s going to die from smoke inhalation it won’t be with clogged pores.
King tells whoever is listening that he’s armed while coughing like a geriatric slot jockey. He makes his way out of the bedroom and looks downstairs. He can see flashing lights through the windows and is relieved that there’s help there already. He calls out to the firefighters who ask him if he can get down. King says he can’t and they tell him to stay put and they’ll come to him.
This is the most casual house fire I’ve seen. I’ll excuse King not noticing that it’s suspicious as he’s panicking. He lies down and listens as people come running in and pick him up. They carry him out and into fresh air and strap an oxygen mask on his face. King then immediately passes out because it was all a trick.
The villains turn off the lights and sirens sounds along with the smoke machine. We get told how the fire was actually fake and that the “oxygen” they gave King contained a sedative. They rig the place to explode and drive off after “Buick man” tells King he’s waited a long time for this.
This is going to sound weird but I had a nightmare last night that you had decided to quit doing these chapter-by-chapter shreddings of bad books! i was so sad! Glad it was only a bad dream! Love your website!!!