The Christmas Train, by David Baldacci (a re-read)

Eight stars

I love this holiday classic, even if it is totally cheesy. It is one of my annual reads at this time of year and I hope it can be added to a holiday TBR list for others as well.

Baldacci brings his readers a holiday classic sure to stoke the fires of the heart and keep the holiday season on track. Tom Langdon is on a mission, to get from New York to LA in time for Christmas. After a slightly intrusive and highly problematic search by airport security, Langdon finds himself on a red-flag list, still needing to get to the City of Angels. As a seasoned journalist, he tries to make the most of his issue and decides to take to the rails aboard Amtrak’s best and brightest, writing all about his adventures. His multi-day journey puts many interesting and unique characters in his path, as well as some highly humourous adventures and even a mystery or two. As the miles fly by, Langdon discovers that there is more to the train than a slower means of getting from A to B. When someone from his past appears on the journey alongside him, Langdon discovers true meaning of the holidays and how the heart is the best guide on any of life’s trips. A nice break for Baldacci thriller readers, the book is a wonderful addition to the annual holiday traditions.

I would be remiss if I did not agree with many that this book is not cut from the usual cloth Baldacci presents. That said, its hokey nature is offset by the wonderful story Baldacci tells and the humour he is able to weave into the larger narrative. I have read this book many time before and love it each time, finding some new aspect to cherish. Baldacci is a master at storytelling and this book is proof positive that his flexible ideas can stand the test of time and genre diversification.

Kudos, Mr. Baldacci, for this holiday treat that ranks right up there with shortbread and eggnog.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Daylight (John Puller #5, Atlee Pine #3), by David Baldacci

Eight stars

Never one to shy away from a great thriller, I turned to the latest in the Atlee Pine series, Daylight, by esteemed author David Baldacci. The story offers some great action and development in the Mercy Pine saga, though is overshadowed by a case headed by another Baldacci protagonist. Thankfully Atlee has no trouble sharing the ‘daylight’, though it does cast her in the shadows at times. A great book for Baldacci fans, even if patience and a John Puller storyline hijacking are two aspects for which the title does not prepare the reader.

Atlee Pine is a stellar agent with the FBI and knows how to track down a criminal with one hand tied behind her back. This might have something to do with the great support she’s offered by her administrative assistant, Carol Blum, but Pine is no slouch. When they take a leave from the Bureau to track done a lead in the Mercy Pine disappearance, both Atlee and Carol end up in New Jersey, hoping to put all the pieces together.

Arriving to speak with one Ito Vincenzo, brother to a high-ranking Mafia boss, Pine wonders if her sister’s kidnapping might have something to do with an act of revenge. Atlee’s mother apparently created quite the stir testifying and Ito may have wanted to take matters into his own hands.

Just as Pine arrives to extract some information, she stumbles into the middle of something and foils an ongoing investigation by Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID). The lead investigator, John Puller, is a little less than happy, but once he sees that it’s Atlee Pine, he softens a little. Pine and Puller have worked together before and, while another of the Vincenzo family has slipped away, the fact that it was in the hopes of finding Mercy Pine lessens the impact.

It would seem that Tony Vincenzo has been using his muscle to bring pills into Fort Dix, which is how Puller finds himself involved. With leads as hot as they come, Puller has little time to rest on his laurels, but does suppose that he and Pine might be able to work together, killing two birds with a single stone. They work their respective cases in tandem, trying to uncover leads and make progress however they can.

While Atlee learns little about her sister, she does discover that Tony Vincenzo’s narcotics reach may be only the tip of the iceberg, as there are people of some prominence caught in a larger web, reaching into the halls of Congress. However, without the big fish, it’s all a house of cards and will lead Puller nowhere. It would seem the sleuthing both Pine and Puller are doing has caused someone to feel the heat, as they are both targeted and almost killed.

Working the Vincenzo angle, much is discovered and Atlee inadvertently makes a discovery about where Mercy may have gone the night she was kidnapped. It’s not yet confirmed, but if it can be substantiated, things may finally be falling into place. With the truth out there, both Puller and Pine will have to watch themselves and step carefully, or fear never seeing daylight again.

I always enjoy what David Baldacci brings to the table and marvel at how he can keep multiple series on the go by himself. He has a way with words and keeps his readers enthralled. However, I think his interest in crossovers (this is the second in as many novels that has two protagonists working together) may have cost Atlee Pine the stardom that the book’s series tag suggests.

Atlee Pine is a gritty woman and strong beyond belief. Her background in MMA fighting and push to reveal the truth about her sister’s disappearance prove to be a key aspect to the protagonist’s overall development throughout this piece. While the Mercy Pine mystery proves a thread throughout this piece, Pine seems to take second chair to John Puller and his needs, thereby relegating her to losing true character development in this novel, which is unfortunate.

Baldacci’s use of strong supporting characters is on display here again. While I won’t call him supporting, John Puller’s presence is refreshing in this piece. He has a lot worth discussing throughout the piece and his appearance does complement Pine well, though, as I have said multiple times, he steals the show. Others help to shape the plot and keep the story moving forward, with banter and plot twists that are sure to keep the reader intrigued.

Baldacci’s writing is strong and proves to fit his usual outline of two strong, central characters, one male and one female. I have long used audio to read Baldacci, so I am used to the intertwined voices and characters that appear throughout. A mix of chapter lengths help provide the reader with the momentum needed to devour thgis book in short order, even if Baldacci’s plots alone serve this purpose. I remained curious throughout and the Mercy Pine revelations left me wanting more, hoping that Atlee will keep up her search for the truth about the sister she lost three decades ago. The final half dozen chapters prove essential to understanding advances in the Mercy Pine saga.

If I had to offer a critique, it would be the Puller hijacking of the book. While I am no author, I think Pine deserved her limelight and that John Puller could have been introduced later in the piece, thereby providing him a cameo/crossover spot and not taking things over. Might Pine have been chasing down the Vincenzo lead and stumbled upon something inside Fort Dix, the story could have blossomed from there. Pine could alert the authorities, subsequently dispatching Army CID and Puller to the scene, it may have allowed her to wrest control of the plot and not make her storyline seem secondary. Still, the book was exciting and Mercy Pine’s mystery does advance. Then again, I am but a single reader/reviewer and I have not seen others comment on this in their own summaries of the book.

Kudos, Mr. Baldacci, for another winner. While I have been somewhat critical, it is from my reviewing ivory tower. I love the writing and was thoroughly entertained.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Walk the Wire (Amos Decker #6), by David Baldacci

Eight stars

David Baldacci is back with another of his powerhouse Amos Decker novels, which never ceases to impress. Decker and his team are sent to the small community of London, North Dakota to investigate the murder of a woman. Her skull has been hacked open and her brain removed, as well as the evisceration of her stomach. Decker cannot make much sense of it, but soon learns that the victim was the teacher on a religious colony just outside of town. When not teaching the minds of tomorrow, she was entertaining the men of the community with her sexual prowess, which is another angle that Decker feels might play a part in her death. London is not the bucolic town it might seem, as a military installation appears to be quite busy on the outskirts, something that Decker learns is related to satellite monitoring. However, something seems off and so the investigation turns in that direction, as odd vehicles appear and planes are in the vicinity at odd hours. While Decker pushes forward, there are some who seem to take offence to this and he lands in a spot of trouble. Just when things get at their most tense, a mysterious figure shows up to cast some light on the situation and save Decker’s hide. More bodies turn up, some mysterious suicides and others outright murders. It would seem there is more to this small town than meets the eye, something some within the US Army want to keep secret. While Decker wants to find the killer, there are bigger fish to fry. Why, then, would someone like Will Robie be here and how will that impact the case? A great piece with some strong cross-over elements to one of Baldacci’s other series. Recommended to fans of his work, as well as the reader who needs a little thrill put back into their day!

I love a story that pulls me in from the opening pages and does not let up. Baldacci does that here from the outset, with his strong mix of characters. That the story was set in North Dakota only added to things for me, as I grew up a few hours away, over the Canadian border. As always, Amos Decker is a wonderful protagonist and his way of thinking keeps me on my toes throughout. His thought process and somewhat rational way of coming to some conclusions makes the story all the better, keeping the reader wanting more. There was definitely a softer side that emerged in this piece, as Decker connects with siblings from his past. Might there be a turn towards the more amenable side of this rock-hard man? The others who emerge in this piece help to complement Decker’s work, as well as keep the action moving. Will Robie’s cross-over appearance here left me wondering if Baldacci wanted to bring one of his past protagonists back, seeing as there have been some new projects taking precedence. Decker and Robie work well together and the race to the answer is found with their teaming up. The story was strong, as usual, and the plot kept evolving throughout, with twists that Baldacci explains to those who pay attention. I am happy to see some cross-over work and would be keen to see if Baldacci tries it again, as it seemed seamless to me. Now to wait for the next book, which is always the hardest part.

Kudos, Mr. Baldacci, for another great Amos Decker instalment. I love how creative you can be, given the opportunity.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

A Minute to Midnight (Atlee Pine #2), by David Baldacci

Nine stars

Continuing some of his masterful writing, David Baldacci returns with a second novel in his Atlee Pine series, which delves even deeper into a mystery three decades in the making. After a dust-up while on duty in Arizona, FBI Agent Atlee Pine agrees to take a vacation of sorts. As she is still trying to piece together clues about her twin sister’s disappearance thirty years before, Atlee heads to rural Georgia with her Bureau assistant. When they arrive in Andersonville, Atlee sees that things are mostly as she remembers them, though her presence has brought people out of the woodwork. Filling in some gaps in a narrative that Atlee had created, the disappearance of Mercy Pine remains a massive mystery. Remembering that she and Mercy were excitable six year-olds at the time, Atlee wonders if her mind was slightly foggy about how the mystery man got into their room. Discussing the matter with some who knew her parents at the time, Atlee begins to see that much of the story she knew hinges on misconceptions, though she is not yet ready to give up. While there, the body of a woman turns up, someone that none of the locals can identify. Could this be a coincidence, or is someone trying to send a message? Atlee begins working the case, though must follow the lead of an investigator with whom she has a poor history, as she is visiting in an unofficial capacity. When more bodies turn up, Atlee must wonder if there is some symbolism to the entire experience and whether someone in Andersonville might have played a part in Mercy’s disappearance while her parents were clueless and incapacitated. Atlee has no intention of leaving the Deep South without answers, but the one who is most forthcoming might be locked away on the other side of the country. A strong story that keeps the reader engaged until the final reveal, with a wonderful cliffhanger, Baldacci has found new and exiting ways to mix story and character development in this piece. Recommended to those who love a good police procedural with a great deal of investigating, as well as the reader who has long been a Baldacci fan.

I have long been a fan of David Baldacci’s work and enjoy his constant new ideas for series that seem to come out of his publications as fast as I can read them. I remember enjoying the debut novel in the Atlee Pine series and found this one to be just as enjoyable, as the tensions mount surrounding Mercy Pine’s disappearance in 1989. The story uses Atlee’s ongoing curiosity about her sister’s disappearance to permit the reader to see some of the backstory that she brings to the novel. What Baldacci has done by sending Atlee to Georgia is offer up more backstory and fill in gaps to create a fuller and more complex Atlee Pine for the reader to enjoy. There are numerous moments of revelation that even Atlee could not have predicted, which thickens the plot. Her development in the present is tested as well, as she tries to define herself as an FBI agent while seeking answers for a past that remains so shrouded. Others who make appearances in the novel prove to be just as exciting and allow the reader to better understand the larger picture. Be they friends of the parental Pines or those who have crossed paths with Atlee in her adult life, Baldacci leaves no path untraveled and this enriched the story for me. I loved the concept of the return to Georgia. While a friend of mine on Goodreads ‘pined’ (pardon the pun) for a full-on investigation into the Mercy disappearance, the fact that another case takes centre stage pleased me. While I want to know everything about Mercy Pine and her kidnapping, I think it is too soon in the series to solve this electrifying mystery. Readers need more Atlee Pine chipping away, as she is greatly defined in the novel as “the sister who was not taken”. I feel Baldacci is doing well by stringing the reader along for a while longer. The dialogue and characters are both believable and worth investing the reading time to discover, as Baldacci never lets things go flat. The dedicated reader will likely come out of this reading experience happy they took the time to read this book, if only to learn more about Atlee Pine and the struggles with which she wrestles daily.

Kudos, Mr. Baldacci, for another winner. I could not read this one fast enough and am eager to see what’s coming next.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

One Good Deed, by David Baldacci

Eight stars

In his latest standalone thriller, David Baldacci captivates readers while taking them on a voyage back in time. It’s 1949 and the War is over, as is the short time Aloysius Archer has spent in prison. Heading west, Archer settles in Poca City to serve out his parole. Seeking employment, Archer is approached by Hank Pittleman to help him retrieve a debt. Archer seems happy to help, as long as his parole officer considers this above board. However, as Archer soon discovers, the debtor is anything but happy to repay what is owed and spins a tale of a lost daughter he wishes to protect. Working his verbal magic, Archer feels he might be making headway, until a murder shakes him to his core. The authorities are happy to look at the ex-con for the crime and the evidence points in Archer’s direction. Trying to clear his name and work with the locals to solve the case, Archer uncovers some interesting secrets that sees the investigation widen. Armed with this news and trying to stay one step ahead of the noose, Archer will do whatever it takes, using the sleuthing he heard in his favourite mystery novels while incarcerated. A wonderful novel that has the potential to begin a new series. Baldacci has done it again and I can recommend this to those who love his work, as well as the reader who finds joy in crime thrillers.

I always enjoy new ventures by established authors, as it pushes them out of their comfort zone while allowing readers to see just how vast their abilities tend to be. David Baldacci has done this many times over the years, taking a standalone and, upon rave reviews, builds it into a new series, letting some of his past collections fade into the background. This novel surely has the potential for that, as it is not only well founded, but its characters are interesting and the narrative flows with ease. Aloysius Archer proves to be a wonderful protagonist, seeking to reinvent himself after fighting in Europe and doing a stint in jail. This backstory alone draws the reader to him, but there is more. As he arrives in town—almost Reacher-esque—knowing no one in particular, Archer soon connects with some of the locals and finds himself in the middle of a feud. His skills as an investigator are second to none and this is utilised effectively throughout, allowing Archer to grow and become even better liked by the reader. Supported by a handful of other strong characters, Archer finds himself trying to stay one step ahead of the law without disappearing entirely. The secondary characters are strong and serve to keep the story moving, though their interactions with Archer cannot be dismissed. There is some strong potential, should Baldacci continue the series, though it is apparent that certain storylines will dominate any future plots. Well written with a perfect mix to keep the reader engaged, Baldacci may have a major success on his hands, should he move in that direction.

Kudos, Mr. Baldacci, for another great novel. I cannot wait to see what you have in store for readers down the road.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Redemption (Amos Decker #5), by David Baldacci

Eight stars

In another thrilling novel, David Baldacci places Amos Decker in the middle of a case that will require all his attention. While visiting his daughter’s grave, Amos Decker is approached by a man he put away for murder over a decade ago. Released for compassionate reasons, the man professes that his conviction was wrong and that Decker needs to reevaluate the work he did when serving with the local police department. Now, armed with a task and reunited with his former partner, Decker is trying to piece together the narrative from the murder. When the original accused is murdered himself, Decker can only surmise that someone is trying to silence an attempt to find justice. The further he digs, the more Decker uncovers, though some of it is surely as painful for him as it is for the families of the victims and the accused. When others die, Decker refuses to let that deter him and forges ahead at full speed. The town of Burlington, Ohio may have changed after all these years, but there are still secrets that linger, including one that could destroy its bucolic nature. Can Decker save all that he holds dear without allowing his past to fade into oblivion? Another wonderful novel by Baldacci, who has been keeping the Decker series fresh and insightful for fans. Recommended for those who love a good mystery and have followed the series from its inception.

I have long been a fan of David Baldacci and his work, having seen him through many series over a number of years. I became curious about Amos Decker from the start, as the premise caught my attention from the outset. With a well-established backstory, Amos Decker would appear to have little to offer the reader, though his past is always coming back to work its magic and old cases receive new life. As the story begins with Decker returning to Burlington, the reader is taken back and discovers some of the pain the series protagonist has been holding onto over the past number of years. Others add depth and intrigue to the story and propel Decker forward to make key choices that not only move the mystery in a key direction, but also help to give the characters entertaining. Moving into the fifth novel in this series, there is little lag as Baldacci continues to offer fresh and interesting directions for his protagonist. With a mix of short chapters and those with more depth to build suspense, Baldacci pulls the reader in from the outset and shows why he is at the top of his game. I cannot wait to see what else he has in store for his fans and what sort of directions things will go in the foreseeable future.

Kudos, Mr. Baldacci, for never letting up and keeping this series full of twists for those who like to be surprised.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Christmas Train, by David Baldacci

Eight stars

I love this holiday classic, even if it is totally cheesy. It is one of my annual reads at this time of year and I hope it can be added to a holiday TBR list for others as well.

Baldacci brings his readers a holiday classic sure to stoke the fires of the heart and keep the holiday season on track. Tom Langdon is on a mission, to get from New York to LA in time for Christmas. After a slightly intrusive and highly problematic search by airport security, Langdon finds himself on a red-flag list, still needing to get to the City of Angels. As a seasoned journalist, he tries to make the most of his issue and decides to take to the rails aboard Amtrak’s best and brightest, writing all about his adventures. His multi-day journey puts many interesting and unique characters in his path, as well as some highly humourous adventures and even a mystery or two. As the miles fly by, Langdon discovers that there is more to the train than a slower means of getting from A to B. When someone from his past appears on the journey alongside him, Langdon discovers true meaning of the holidays and how the heart is the best guide on any of life’s trips. A nice break for Baldacci thriller readers, the book is a wonderful addition to the annual holiday traditions.

I would be remiss if I did not agree with many that this book is not cut from the usual cloth Baldacci presents. That said, its hokey nature is offset by the wonderful story Baldacci tells and the humour he is able to weave into the larger narrative. I have read this book many time before and love it each time, finding some new aspect to cherish. Baldacci is a master at storytelling and this book is proof positive that his flexible ideas can stand the test of time and genre diversification.

Kudos, Mr. Baldacci, for this holiday treat that ranks right up there with shortbread and eggnog.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Long Road to Mercy (Atlee Pine #1), by David Baldacci

Eight stars

There is something to be said for an author who can juggle writing multiple book series at the same time, and even more for those who are able to see these collections continually hit the top of the charts. David Baldacci has been able to do this—without collaborators, I might add—and keeps the stories crisp, while never losing his reading base. I approached Baldacci’s latest work with some trepidation, as I am comfortable with the two strong series he actively writes and worry about diluting the quality of his published works. Atlee Pine is an agent with the FBI, but her unique backstory and location add new depth to her character. Pine grew up in Georgia, but moved out West to enjoy the open spaces, as well as some distance from others. When she is called to the Grand Canyon to help with an investigation, she jumps at the opportunity, though is highly confused when she arrives. Ben Priest was part of a group travelling through the Canyon by mule, but he has gone missing. The mule’s been found, gutted and with an odd message carved into its flank. As Pine begins investigating, she contacts Priest’s brother, who has much too say about Ben. Just as Pine locates the missing Priest, she is assaulted and both Priest brothers are abducted by someone on a military chopper. Now, the mystery thickens and Pine is called off the case by those back at FBI HQ. Refusing to stand down, Pine enlists the help of her assistant, Carol Blum, and they begin their own investigation into events, which takes them across the country. Dodging FBI officials and some of the scummier folks seeking to stop their progress, Pine and Blum uncover that there may be a plot that puts America in great danger. Neutered by orders from on high, there is no one to whom Pine and Blum can turn, until they get solid evidence. Time is running short and international entities appear to be gathering momentum, forcing Pine to make a sacrifice for her country. Baldacci has crafted a winner here, in a series that begs to continue in some way. Fans of Baldacci’s work will likely enjoy the piece and it comes highly recommended to those who are drawn to stories of action.

I have long been a fan of David Baldacci and his work. Be it thrillers, holiday heartwarming stories, or something with political implications, Baldacci usually knows how to convey his point through well-developed novels. This story is no exception, as it mixes the thrill of the hunt with a female protagonist ready to solve the world’s problems. Atlee Pine is not only a strong FBI agent, but also harbours a deep backstory that is sure to be handled over a few novels. Having lost her twin sister at the age of six to a kidnapper, Atlee has been trying to remember the night Mercy was abducted. This underlying thread keeps the story moving along, as Atlee seeks to avenge the powerlessness she suffered as a child by capturing the worst criminals who cross her path. She lives an isolated life and wants few to see her inner scars, though seems destined to share when the time seems right. Baldacci has scattered enough crumbs to keep the reader wondering and one can hope that the series will continue to give more depth to the character and her inner turmoil. Those around Atlee Pine help support her and strengthen the story in their own way, as the reader pushes through this series debut. Some will surely return in the novels to come, while others are vessels for this plot line. Either way, they come to life and offer the reader something entertaining. The story itself is not entirely unique, but it is the way that Baldacci tells it that keeps things fresh and energetic. Geo-politics has become the latest craze in the genre, which is on offer here, but there is an interesting way the characters work to hash out the specifics that kept me wanting to know more. Perhaps this is the way of the future, leaving traditional terrorism as a theme of the past, allowing new and exciting threads to be developed by top-rated authors, such as Baldacci. I’ll keep reading, as the stories remain of high caliber. I can only hope there are more novels in the works!

Kudos, Mr. Baldacci, for another thrilling ride. I look forward to what 2019 brings and how you’ll dazzle your fans next!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Fallen (Amos Decker #4), by David Baldacci

Eight stars

David Baldacci’s latest Amos Decker novel touches on some timely material while keeping the reader enthralled throughout. While vacationing in rural Pennsylvania, Amos Decker and his partner, Alex Jamison, seek to unwind with Alex’s sister. When Decker stumbles across a murder scene, he is unable to divorce himself from his sleuthing ways. Two men are found murdered in a home presumed to have been abandoned. This is not the first murder in Baronville of late, which has seen half a dozen bodies piling up over the last few months. While Jamison is happy to let the locals handle things, Decker pulls her into the middle of the investigation as his mind races at light speed. It would appear that someone does not want them poking around, as they are caught in a situation that leaves Decker’s mental abilities tarnished. When tragedy befalls Jamison’s family, she is happy to set the case aside, but Decker is determined to get to the bottom of everything going on, including trying to learn more about the town pariah, a man whose family has influenced the community since its inception. As Decker investigates, the dire the consequences of the opioid crisis come to the surface, where towns across America are being destroyed by new and lethal drugs on a regular basis. When Decker makes a solid connection between these drug deaths and someone in town, he will stop at nothing to reveal the full picture, even if it costs him everything. Baldacci has another winner with this novel, which keeps the reader guessing while addressing some of the poignant topics making their way into news headlines around the world. Recommended to series fans and those who enjoy a well-paced thriller that has a little of everything.

I have long enjoyed Baldacci’s work, which is as varied as his handful of central characters. He has the ability to place his protagonists in interesting predicaments while also pulling news from the headlines to make the novels even more relevant in a genre that seems supersaturated with books. Paring down the series characters, Baldacci focuses on Decker and Jamison, allowing both to develop some more of their backstories/personal sides and offering the reader something on which they can relate. It would seem that the opioid crisis is an ongoing hot button issue and Baldacci finds a way to spin it in a unique fashion to offer his own perspective without getting overly preachy. Baldacci’s subtle use of characters to portray opinions permits the reader to feel at ease throughout this controversial topic. With chapters that keep the narrative flowing effectively and keeps the reader wondering what’s coming next, Baldacci has another winner with this novel in an established series. Perhaps not the best of the novels, but still one well worth the time to read it, I can only wonder what else Baldacci has in store for his fans.

Kudos, Mr. Baldacci, for another wonderful book. I know you have plans for new and exciting series in the fall, but I hope you will not forget this series, which has been gaining momentum since its inception.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Christmas Train, by David Baldacci

Nine stars

I love this holiday classic, even if it is totally cheesy. It is one of my annual reads at this time of year and I hope it can be added to a holiday TBR list for others as well.

Baldacci brings his readers a holiday classic sure to stoke the fires of the heart and keep the holiday season on track. Tom Langdon is on a mission, to get from New York to LA in time for Christmas. After a slightly intrusive and highly problematic search by airport security, Langdon finds himself on a red-flag list, still needing to get to the City of Angels. As a seasoned journalist, he tries to make the most of his issue and decides to take to the rails aboard Amtrak’s best and brightest, writing all about his adventures. His multi-day journey puts many interesting and unique characters in his path, as well as some highly humourous adventures and even a mystery or two. As the miles fly by, Langdon discovers that there is more to the train than a slower means of getting from A to B. When someone from his past appears on the journey alongside him, Langdon discovers true meaning of the holidays and how the heart is the best guide on any of life’s trips. A nice break for Baldacci thriller readers, the book is a wonderful addition to the annual holiday traditions.

I would be remiss if I did not agree with many that this book is not cut from the usual cloth Baldacci presents. That said, its hokey nature is offset by the wonderful story Baldacci tells and the humour he is able to weave into the larger narrative. I have read this book many time before and love it each time, finding some new aspect to cherish. Baldacci is a master at storytelling and this book is proof positive that his flexible ideas can stand the test of time and genre diversification.

Kudos, Mr. Baldacci, for this holiday treat that ranks right up there with shortbread and eggnog.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons