Rating: 4 Water Towers
Stone Cold by David Baldacci is the third installment of the trials and tribulations of “The Camel Club”, an eclectic band of fighters for truth and justice. This is an excellent, briskly paced, story that seamlessly weaves several plot lines together while adding additional depth to the Camel Club characters.
The Camel Club members are: Oliver Stone, a 62 year old cemetery caretaker who is an ex-CIA assassin, Caleb Shaw a rare book specialist working at the Library of Congress, Milton Farb a nerdy computer whiz, and Rueben Rhodes a tough dockworker and ex-Vietnam war hero and intelligence agent. Alex Ford is a Secret Service agent and honorary member, and the newest member of the Camel Club is Annabelle Conroy a con artist whom we met in “The Collectors”.
Plot Line 1
The opening of the book introduces us to Harry Finn. Harry is a solid citizen with a wonderful family. Harry attends the kids school functions and sporting events, and regularly visits his aging mother in the nursing home. A good guy. Harry is a Homeland Security contractor whose job it is to find holes in the security of airports, shipping companies, etc. Harry is an ex-Navy SEAL…….and a cold blooded killer.
As we find out, Harry is systematically knocking off the men he feels are responsible for the death of his father. He has terminated three so far and among the men he is still searching for include former CIA Director, Carter Gray , Senator (and possible future Presidential nominee) Roger Simpson and, our hero, Oliver Stone. Before killing the people, Harry makes sure they see a picture of his father so they understand why they are about to die. One night, Carter Gray received that picture and shortly thereafter his house blew up.
Plot Line 2
In The Collectors, Annabelle Conroy’s ex-husband, a Library of Congress employee and Caleb’s boss, was murdered in a rare book scandal. Attending his funeral Annabelle meets the members of the Camel Club. Before arriving at the funeral, Annabelle had just scammed her mother’s killer, Jerry Bagger, a casino owner in Atlantic City out of $40 million. Needless to say, Jerry wants Annabelle dead. As the story picks up in “Stone Cold”, Jerry continues his search for Annabelle who, in turn, seeks the help of Oliver and the Camel Club.
On a trip to Maine to uncover evidence to use against Bagger, Annabelle and Oliver run into Annabelle’s father, Paddy. Paddy scammed Jerry out of $10,000 and lost his wife because of it. He is now dying and he, Oliver, and Annabelle come up with a con to trap Bagger once and for all.
Plot Line 3
Oliver’s secrets are revealed and now he is being hunted by Harry and the U.S. Gov’t neither of which want him alive. To protect himself and the others, Oliver must pass the protection of Annabelle off to Alex and the remaining Camel Club members while he goes underground to stave off the attacks by learning as much as he can about the situation.
Plot Lines Merge
All three plot lines comes together when Oliver figures out why Harry is killing the ex-members of the CIA Triple Six assassination team, and also who in the government wants Oliver dead. Fearing that the other members are in just as much danger with him gone Oliver rejoins the others to put an end to this madness once and for all.
The action that follows is fast and furious and not all members of the Camel Club come out alive (very sadly).
The end of the book turns into a summary by Baldacci covering the next several months culminating in the elimination of the worst of the enemies by a very determined and skilled assassin.
As you may know, David Baldacci is one of my top “must reads”.
“Stone Cold” is another great book by one of the best Thriller writers of our day.