David Baldacci's KING AND MAXWELL

I took a break from writing to read David Baldacci's King and Maxwell. I like his series about the former Secret Service agents.

This one begins during a storm on a dark road. King and Maxwell find a young man running in the rain with a gun. This rescue leads to a new case where everything is not as it first seems. The boy's father and a lot of money have disappeared during a secret mission in Afghanistan. The private eyes learn that the scandal goes all the way to the White House.

King and Maxwell battle a paramilitary group and multiple government agencies with all kinds of letters in their acronyms to solve the crime and find out what happened to the missing man and the money.

This is my favorite of Baldacci's series. I love that parts are set in Virginia. Baldacci is a good storyteller with strong male characters. His female characters are often caricatures. It reminds me a lot of how Hemingway portrayed females in his work.

King and Maxwell is well worth the read. There are enough plot twists to keep the reader guessing all the way to the end.

FACEOFF - Edited by David Baldacci

I downloaded the International Thrill Writers' anthology, Faceoff, edited by David Baldacci. Most anthologies have some sort of theme. This one is interesting because it pairs multiple writers and their protagonists in each story. It also introduced me to several new-to-me authors, and I look forward to reading their novels.

My favorites included Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly's "Red Eye," set in Boston. Both characters are looking for the same kidnapper. One is because of a recent abduction, and the other is chasing a lead from a cold case in California. Steve Martini and Linda Fairstein's characters meet at a lawyers' conference in "Surfing the Panther." I also liked the twist in Heather Graham and F. Paul Wilson's "Infernal Night," set in New Orleans. "Pit Stop" by Raymond Khoury and Linwood Barclay encapsulates an action-packed car-jacking in the limited space of a short story. I also liked "Good and Valuable Consideration" by Lee Child and Joseph Finder. Jack Reacher stories are always a great read.

And the beauty of a short story anthology is that if you don't like a particular story, you can always move on to the next one. There is something in Faceoff for all tastes.