Book review: At the top of his game, Baldacci introduces readers to Atlee Pine in new thriller

  • "Long Road to Mercy" by David Baldacci

    "Long Road to Mercy" by David Baldacci Associated Press/Grand Central Publishing

By Jeff Ayers
Associated Press

"Long Road to Mercy: an Atlee Pine Thriller" by David Baldacci; Grand Central Publishing; 416 pages

David Baldacci introduces readers to FBI Special Agent Atlee Pine in his latest thriller, "Long Road to Mercy," that hopefully is the start of a new series featuring her adventures.

Atlee Pine has a tumultuous past, but the memories of a particular day when she was 6 years old have not only isolated her from trusting people, but have also given her the strength to become an excellent agent. She has taken the most remote assignment imaginable, running the Shattered Rock, Arizona, office of the FBI. Part of its jurisdiction involves working with National Park rangers to protect the Grand Canyon. When one of the mules used to transport riders down the canyon is found stabbed to death, Atlee is called in to investigate.

For what should have been a loud incident, nobody in the nearby camp heard anything. The man who rode the mule down to the bottom has vanished.

When she starts questioning the campers and the rangers in the area, Atlee is removed from any further inquiry. Two potential ranger witnesses are suddenly transferred to another park. It becomes clear that if she continues to pursue the truth, her career will be over. Her supervisors don't know Atlee Pine at all. She has to overcome her loner mentality and work with others to stop a horrible conspiracy. Hopefully she has the time.

Baldacci excels as a storyteller when it comes to FBI agents with baggage. He also knows how to craft a complex and compelling case for his stellar heroes to solve. Baldacci is at the top of his game here. The final reveal is both exciting and shocking. Readers will fall in love with Atlee, and hopefully Baldacci will bring her back soon.

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