5 stars out of 5
Sometimes, I want to kick back and read a book or two just for the pure pleasure of it. Such is the case now, when the notion of cooking Thanksgiving dinner for two groups of relatives on two different days has had me stressed out for a month. So, I put my ever-growing stack of free-for-review books aside and turned to new entries by a few of my favorite authors.
And oh, what a relief it is! This is the fourth in the John Puller series, and I've been looking forward to reading it ever since I learned the release date. Now I admit it's a bit on the technologically far-fetched end of the spectrum (especially considering the backstory happened 30 years ago), but it came so close to the realm of possibility that I wasn't bothered at all. In fact, I hated to put it down, and on the day before the first of the two crowds was to arrive, I even put off making my delicious (if I do say so myself) deviled eggs for the half-hour I needed to finish it.
In the beginning, chapters flip between scenes from two story lines. In the first, a criminal named Paul Rogers is released after 10 years in jail; clearly, he's hell-bent on revenge for something that happened to him 30 years ago that turned him into nothing short of a monster. And just as clearly, he'll stop at nothing to get it. Meantime, Puller is notified that the case of his mother's disappearance back when he was 8 years old will be reopened. She was never found, and now it seems someone has accused Puller's elderly three-star-general father of murdering her.
Puller, an Army special agent, and his brother Robert, an Air Force major, don't believe the accusations and want to learn the truth. The government, though, doesn't make it easy, putting roadblocks and cease-and-desist orders at every turn. But even though his brother's hands are tied and he's unable to follow through, John throws caution to the wind and refuses to give up (turning to his capable and attractive friend Veronica Knox for help).
As expected, the two story lines begin to converge; the Puller brothers' mother, Jackie, disappeared when the family lived at Fort Monroe, Virginia. And at that time, Rogers was at the Fort as well. The deeper Puller digs into the past, the closer it brings him to Rogers. It's a high-stakes race with an inevitable clash at the end - and the resulting fallout could be deadly. But for whom?
Honestly, I'd love to spill the beans, but I'm out of time. Gotta get that turkey in the oven stat!
No Man's Land by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing, November 2016); 432 pp.