Multimillionaire Nickolas Creel, head of a defense conglomerate known as the Ares Corporation, is looking to create the impression that an armed conflict is imminent in order to further his own agenda. No one is better suited to the task then former White House staffer and spinmaster Dick Pender, now a perception management consultant who prides himself in being able to make the public believe anything. Truth falls by the wayside as Creel pushes for an accelerated arms race for profit while Shaw, a shadowy figure without a last name, travels the globe in an effort to sift fact from fiction. While dreaming of retiring to a quiet life with his beautiful German girlfriend Anna Fischer, Shaw’s employer isn’t about to let him leave the ultra-secret international law enforcement organization, using drastic measures to guarantee his complete cooperation. After a tragic assignment in Afghanistan, Katie James returned home an alcoholic barely capable of handling the obits column. A chance encounter finds Katie teaming up to assist Shaw in his efforts and lands her in the midst of what could well be the biggest story of her life, provided he can keep them both alive.
In his latest work, Baldacci introduces a new cast with a better plot then seen in the Camel Club books but that doesn’t quite make up for the superficial character development or over abundance of tired clichés. Efforts to show how today’s media can and does manipulate the facts to suit their own special interests or the interests of outside parties, come off as too heavy handed to be credible although it is an issue we should all be aware of. For fans of Baldacci’s work, this falls well short of Absolute Power and moderately better then Stone Cold.