Opening with assassin for hire, Roger Seagraves killing the Speaker of the House the story moves on to the strange death of the Library of Congress’ director of Rare Books, Jonathan DeHaven. When his employee Caleb Shaw, one of four aging misfits introduced in Baldacci’s “The Camel Club”, discovers DeHaven’s body in the library they find themselves drawn into a complex investigation. This one involves rare books, state secrets and spies that eventually place them in the line of fire. Once again, Oliver Stone plays a key role along with the club’s honorary member Alex Ford, a long time Secret Service agent.
Intertwined with this mainframe storyline is the tale of an enormous swindle masterminded by the dead librarian’s ex-wife, Annabelle Conroy. Beginning with a couple of smaller cons which serve to bankroll while providing experience to the younger members of the hand picked team, Annabelle intends to pull off a long con. Her mark is Jerry Bagger, a shady casino operator in Atlantic City for nothing less then 33 million dollars in retribution for the death of her mother.
Rare books and Seagraves activities serve to tie the main stories together as they hurtle towards a climatic showdown. This is a complex yet captivating piece of storytelling that does well right up to the final few pages where one gets the feeling the loose ends were dealt with as expediently as possible. The additional characters will undoubtedly play an active role in upcoming titles as this improbable group of crime fighters take on the big boys.