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No Man's Land


No Man's Land

“Paul Rogers was waiting for them to come and kill him.”

This is one of the best and most effective first lines I've read in a thriller in a long time. It shows David Baldacci's talent as a writer and his ability to create tension and interest with the simplest lines. Thus we are introduced to Paul Rogers, a man who will play a pivotal role in this latest installment of the John Puller series.

Rogers thinks that first line while within his prison cell. He has received his parole after doing time for murder. That he is being released at all is not the most shocking thing about him. He is on a mission that exists within the deepest recesses of his brain. While in prison, Rogers was the alpha dog among inmates. Regardless of the fact that he was in his 50s, he was one extremely dangerous person, and there was not a prisoner or guard who would physically challenge him.

"Baldacci ramps up the thrills and chills, with Puller and Rogers on their way towards a head-on collision like two runaway freight trains."

In the meantime, Special Agent John Puller is dealing with his own private mission. His father is quite ill and his mind all but gone. It is the fact that he wants his father to be able to die without any suspicion that drives Puller into the most serious case he has ever worked. You see, Puller's mother, Jackie, walked out of their home one night and was never seen or heard from again. This 30-year-old cold case is the mission Puller is seeking to solve since his father has been accused by some of killing her.

Those closest to Puller have never spoken with him much about his mother's disappearance, but it always has eaten away at him. When his friend and sometime colleague, intelligence officer Veronica Knox, shows up to help him, he is initially impelled to push her away and handle this very personal mission on his own. It is only when Knox reveals some key facts involving his mother's case that he relents and accepts her assistance.

Meanwhile, Rogers is leaving a path of bodies in his wake. He kills with his bare hands and possesses a fighting ability that is unmatched by any person he comes up against. What is the reason for this superhuman strength? That is the mystery at the heart of his mission. As more and more layers are pulled back to allow readers to see what makes Rogers tick, it is easy to see that there will be an inevitable showdown between himself and Puller as their destinies are indeed linked.

Puller and Knox have a long list of people to question regarding his mother's disappearance, but finding anyone with the ability to shed light on something that happened three decades ago is not easy. When Puller learns about a handful of women who were all murdered in and around the time and place of his mother's disappearance, he faces the fact that she may have been an unknown additional victim of this alleged serial killer.

Baldacci ramps up the thrills and chills, with Puller and Rogers on their way towards a head-on collision like two runaway freight trains. There are more than enough startling revelations that change the direction of the story, and this will keep the most astute thriller reader on his or her toes. What amazes me about Baldacci --- aside from the fact that he is incapable of writing a bad story --- is that he puts out so many books each year and currently has six recurring series going. NO MAN'S LAND is a very consumable thriller, and I have to rank the Puller series right up there with the King & Maxwell and Camel Club novels as his finest work.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on November 18, 2016

No Man's Land
by David Baldacci

  • Publication Date: March 21, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1455586501
  • ISBN-13: 9781455586509