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A Minute to Midnight: An Atlee Pine Thriller

Review

A Minute to Midnight: An Atlee Pine Thriller

One year ago, David Baldacci introduced readers to FBI Agent Atlee Pine. To say that Atlee came with baggage would be a gross understatement. When she was just six years old, someone broke into the room she shared with her twin sister, Mercy. Atlee was left with a fractured skull, while Mercy disappeared. Their parents were allegedly out of it, having overindulged in beer and marijuana.

This took place in Andersonville, Georgia. Small towns hold no secrets, and the rumors quickly spread, pointing a finger at Atlee's father, Tim, as the one who assaulted Atlee and killed Mercy. This caused the family to pull up stakes and leave Andersonville in the middle of the night, never to return or speak with anyone from that town again. Unfortunately, it is impossible to run away from your troubles, and another victim of that old crime was claimed when Tim hung himself. Meanwhile, Atlee slowly became more and more estranged from her mother to the point where she currently has no contact with her at all.

"Baldacci has produced another remarkable novel with plot twists galore that let the pages practically turn themselves. His writing style allows readers to immediately enter the action and then forces them to strap in for another wild ride."

A MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT opens with Atlee visiting infamous serial killer Daniel James Tor as he sits in prison awaiting eventual execution. It was Atlee who was responsible for putting him there, a series of events that took place in LONG ROAD TO MERCY. Atlee chased down Tor not only due to the horrific murders he committed, but because some of his crimes took place not far from where she grew up, and she suspects that he might have had something to do with her sister’s disappearance.

Still hoping that Mercy might be out there somewhere, Atlee takes a much-needed vacation. Actually, it's a “working vacation” as she brings along her assistant, Carol Blum, for a trip back to Andersonville to reconnect with the locals and see what she can sniff up a few decades after her departure. Atlee and Carol referred to themselves in the previous novel as a sort of “Thelma & Louise” road-trip duo, and they get the opportunity to hit the road again --- this time traveling from their offices in Arizona to Andersonville, a small town that looks like time has stood still.

Their visit, though, is interrupted by a very real murder. A young woman is found dead in an alleyway, with a wedding veil draped over her face. Atlee teams up with local law enforcement to see if this is an isolated incident or part of something bigger. Of course, she sees beyond any coincidence and knows that it relates in some way to her and her search for answers concerning her family’s dark past.

Atlee reaches out to Jack Lineberry, a billionaire business owner and an old friend of her parents. She knows that Lineberry can provide answers to her burning questions; not only was he the one to find her father dead from suicide, he professed to be in love with her mother. Additionally, she meets with an extremely odd couple --- Myron and Britta Pringle --- who also knew her parents. The Pringles lost both their children under tragic circumstances, which has scarred them mentally and physically. Atlee learns that Myron broke up a fight between her father and a man named Barry Vincent the morning after her sister disappeared. Vincent had accused him of killing Mercy.

Baldacci keeps readers on edge as he seesaws between Atlee's quest and the local killings --- which now includes a murdered man and young foster boy, both of whom were found in strange clothing and placed in some sort of tableau. Everything will eventually snake together in nightmarish fashion, and Atlee will find herself in the middle of it all with her life in serious jeopardy.

Baldacci has produced another remarkable novel with plot twists galore that let the pages practically turn themselves. His writing style allows readers to immediately enter the action and then forces them to strap in for another wild ride. He saves the biggest surprise for last in a moment that will provide an unexpected cliffhanger, which will have his audience eagerly awaiting the next entry.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on November 22, 2019

A Minute to Midnight: An Atlee Pine Thriller
by David Baldacci

  • Publication Date: November 19, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1538761602
  • ISBN-13: 9781538761601