Warner, Sep 2003, 26.95, 404 pp.
In 1996 Secret Service Agent Sean King guards presidential candidate Clyde Ritter during a rally when his attention is diverted for the longest second of his life. In that moment a killer assassinates Ritter. Though King kills the murderer his career died on that day. He since accepts leg work for a legal firm that pays well, but is quite boring.
In 2004 Secret Service Agent Michelle Maxwell protects presidential candidate John Bruno until he heatedly demands she and her entourage give him a moment to pay his respects to the widow of a close friend. Michelle does but John vanishes. Michelle's fast track to the White House is now a one way ticket to the out house. Former agent turned security guru Joan Dillinger is retained to locate the abducted candidate.
The cases are similar in many respects. King and Maxwell reluctantly join forces to find who distracted Sean and who set up Bruno (even as a Buick tracks their progress) as both wants to regain their shattered reputations. As they follow clues across the country, neither can picture what is going on and if they do they will become victims too.
Though quite exciting as expected by a David Baldacci thriller, SPLIT SECOND lacks an acceptable full blooded villain. Instead the culprit seems more of a caricature than a real challenge to the terrific trio working the case. The tale is powerful when the good guys interact as sleuths or in a romantic triangle. Though not quite LAST MAN STANDING, readers will enjoy this fast-paced, action-packed tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner