Long Road To Mercy by David Baldacci

Long Road To Mercy by David Baldacci
Publisher: Pan Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Catch a tiger by its toe.

It’s seared into Atlee Pine’s memory: the kidnapper’s chilling rhyme as he chose between six-year-old Atlee and her twin sister, Mercy. Mercy was taken. Atlee was spared.

She never saw Mercy again.

Three decades after that terrifying night, Atlee Pine works for the FBI. She’s the lone agent assigned to the Shattered Rock, Arizona resident agency, which is responsible for protecting the Grand Canyon.

So when one of the Grand Canyon’s mules is found stabbed to death at the bottom of the canyon-and its rider missing-Pine is called in to investigate. It soon seems clear the lost tourist had something more clandestine than sightseeing in mind. But just as Pine begins to put together clues pointing to a terrifying plot, she’s abruptly called off the case.

If she disobeys direct orders by continuing to search for the missing man, it will mean the end of her career. But unless Pine keeps working the case and discovers the truth, it could spell the very end of democracy in America as we know it…

FBI Special Agent Atlee Pine is the only officer in a remote outpost near the Grand Canyon. She covers an enormous range of the desert in Arizona but that’s exactly how she likes it. When one of the tourists down in the Canyon goes missing and their mule is gutted Atlee is puzzled but soon drawn into far deeper waters than she could have ever imagined.

This is the first book in the series revolving around Atlee Pine and I thoroughly enjoyed it. While I felt the pace of the book was a little slow to begin with, I feel Baldacci did an excellent job setting the story up – both with the multi-layered characters and the scenery itself. I soon found myself heavily invested in Atlee and the case in general, the plot clearly having multiple levels to it and I found it deliciously twisty – not something I could easily unravel early on in the book.

The story ends up having a strong political line, but I don’t think that’s uncommon with Baldacci stories. I was particularly pleased that while definitely political, the writing and plot itself didn’t feel preachy or like the author’s personal agenda or beliefs were skewing the story one way or the other. I feel the action and plot itself drove most (if not all) of the politics and I’m quite happy with that in a story. I also feel there was enough turns and layers to everything that it would surprise me if a reader guessed too far ahead of how events would unfold until well past the halfway mark.

Readers can easily pick this book up as a standalone. While it’s very clear Agent Pine’s personal story (especially the kidnapping of her twin sister when they were young children) will evolve and grow further as the books progress the plot, characters and overall feel of the book was very well contained in this story with a definite – and I feel satisfying – conclusion at the end. I am very eager to move on to the next in this series and feel most mystery/suspense/political thriller style readers will enjoy this book. Recommended.

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