Another book in the Amos Decker series. But this one is rather disappointing.

David Baldacci is one of those authors whose books I wait for, so I was really chuffed to be able to read this new title via the BorrowBox library. Walk the Wire is Book 6 in his Amos Decker series – Decker being the slightly-savant FBI consultant whose extraordinary memory and deductive skills make him one of their top operators, albeit that he’s difficult to work with. He has a female sidekick called Alex Jamison

What makes this book slightly different is that Baldacci also brings his two professional assassins, Will Robie and Jessica Reel, into the story. When Robie made his entrance, I thought he’d bring a great extra layer to the plot because I love the Robie series. But in fact, I think it was a mistake to try to combine what are essentially track-and-kill thrillers (Robie and Reel) with FBI investigations. The two worlds don’t meld together well on the page. And for all that the book held my attention it turned into a rather ridiculous and over-complicated plot.

The background
The story is set in London, a fracking town in North Dakota that’s miles off the beaten track but thriving because of the oil and gas. Decker and Jamison have no idea why they’ve been sent to investigate the murder of a woman known as Irene Cramer, only that the circumstances of her death are weird. Her body was discovered miles from anywhere, naked but having been autopsied. In other words, she had been killed off-site, cut open after death and then sewn back together before being moved to where she was found.

The town of London is mostly controlled by two feuding families: the Dawson’s, who own nearly all of the property, and the McClellan’s who own most of the oil and gas fracking operations. And on the outskirts of the town is a religious community called The Brothers, a sect of the Anabaptist Hutterites (similar to the Amish), who farm the land alongside an Air Force station, which is an eye-in-the-sky base for satellite tracking.

As things unfold
As Decker and Jamison begin to investigate there are more killings. And into this mix comes Will Robie, who’s been sent by his organisation to watch Decker’s back. Reel joins him later.

The FBI have sent Decker and Jamison to London with no back-up or organisational support. So Robie and Reel are the link with the politics and big players in Washington DC because, naturally, this isn’t just an ordinary murder story.

There is a pretty big cast of characters to untangle. The locals, of course, but also Air Force and military personnel, secret service, politicians, lobbyists, mercenaries and more. There’s also a pretty confusing mix-up of clues and story lines, so the concluding chapters jump all over the place as the loose ends are tied up.

In my view
I’m a big fan of Baldacci but this isn’t one of his better books and I found it contrived. It’s not a bad novel to read, and if you like Baldacci you’ll probably still enjoy this. The plot rattles along, there are guns and fights and the bad guys certainly get their come-uppance. But there’s very little subtlety or nuance in the plot and reading it just felt as if I was being marched to the conclusion. I liked it enough to read it through to the end, but it never grabbed me in the way most of his other books have.

All the characters felt poorly-drawn. In this story, Jamison is a ghost who contributes almost nothing; and Robie and Reel are cardboard cut-outs. Equally, Decker, who should be the star of the show, isn’t written with the same insight or attention to detail that he’s given in the other books of the series.

If this was Baldacci’s first novel I might be more forgiving but it isn’t and I was disappointed, so I only give it 3.5 Stars. It’s a real shame.
Review by: Cornish Eskimo