Stone Cold
David Baldacci
A Camel Club mystery
Grand Central Publishing 2007
Hardcover 400 pages

Stone Cold is the third Camel Club mystery novel by David Baldacci. It follows the closing chapters of The Collectors after Annabelle Conroy pulled a con on casino owner Jerry Bagger and opens up a whole new can of worms in Oliver Stone's past. A pretty solid mystery and thriller, Stone Cold is best served after warming up with the last chapters of The Collectors as the Conroy story is central to this one.

I tend to dislike mystery novels that are not stand alone. Stone Cold loses a lot of its interest if you are not familiar with the Annabelle Conroy secondary story in The Collectors as it is, here again, the secondary story in this mystery thriller. Stone Cold is pretty much built along the same lines as The Collectors: a very clever killer is knocking off important people in Washington. This time around, the victims are retired CIA agents who were part of the same secret Triple Six unit Oliver Stone was a member of.

The killings force Stone to reexamine and reveal his past to members of the Camel Club. Stone's true identity and name are revealed after someone starts using him as target and hound to flush out the fox doing the killings. Meanwhile, Annabelle Conroy decides to square off with Jerry Bagger as the only way she has to survive his relentless pursuit.

Although I pretty much read The Collectors and will make the effort to get a copy of The Camel Club, the first book in the series, Stone Cold by David Baldacci was a bit of a letdown and required more of an effort to get back to. Baldacci has one too many balls in the air at the same time. He is somewhat aware of that himself as he conveniently has some secondary members of the Camel Club walk off stage left for quite a few chapters to conveniently get them out of the way as characters.

Another peeve with David Baldacci's Stone Cold is some turn of events are a little Hollywoodesque and require a solid dose of willing suspension of disbelief. Swallowing that dose pays off but I doubt this third Camel Club mystery will be the series' fans' favorite.