David Baldacci doesn’t waste any time in his latest mystery novel The Collectors. Right off the bat you know whodunit and even before the killer pulls the trigger you know Baldaci knows what he is doing. Just the paragraph on the fictional but very plausible evil version of EBay where killers can buy their supplies and sellers get customer satisfaction ratings should be taught in any creative writing workshop still using the mantra write what you know. It would be facetious to say The Collectors starts off with a bang (the killer uses a silencer) but the first chapter sure makes you want to read the rest of this rather thick mystery novel. For those unfamiliar with this novel’s predecessor, The Camel Club, Baldacci even writes an elegant couple of paragraphs on who’s who that just slip by.
The strength of The Collectors by David Baldacci is this sucker moves. I like a writer who does not waste time describing the location, giving a weather report, or writing a history 101 essay on some aspect of some thing. Much like his killer Roger Seagraves -this is not a spoiler-Baldacci believes in getting in and getting out as quickly and cleanly as possible. Much like his con, Annabelle Conroy, Baldacci believes in the intelligent set-up before the pay off. Baldacci juggles the story of his killer, the cons, and the Camel Club, but never loses the reader or his or her interest in this mystery novel.
The Collectors has, in part, to do with rare books. Baldacci manages to make the information on the subject interesting, something other writers, John Dunning for example, fail to do. Still, this mystery writer, no matter how good he is, is not above a cheap trick or two. How he connects con artist Annabelle Conroy and the Camel Club is a bit of a whopper and most certainly heavy-handed deus ex machina time. He does set it up nicely, and it is sort of believable, but most mystery novel fans will definitely think give me a break but still be willing to give the novelist a break just to see what happens next.
Whopper (or Big Mac aside depending on your culinary tastes), this thriller is a smooth, easy though not facile read. The plot is complex and the cast of characters and the story threads numerous. Baldacci never once fumbles the ball and gets the reader lost, even this rather lazy reader.
The Collectors is a lot of fun but
The Collectors’ ending foreshadows the next novel in The Camel Club series and thus leaves part of the story unfinished. So, guess who is looking forward to the next Camel Club mystery novel?
Warner Books 2006
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