Ray Palen's Reviews > A Minute to Midnight

A Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci
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It was just about a year ago at this time that author David Baldacci introduced readers to his latest character --- FBI Agent Atlee Pine. To say that Agent Pine came with baggage would be a gross understatement. When she was just six years old, someone broke into the room she shared with her twin sister, Mercy. The end result was Atlee being left with a fractured skull while her twin just disappeared. Mom and Dad were allegedly out of it downstairs from where this crime took place, having overindulged in both beer and marijuana.

The small town where this took place was called Andersonville, Georgia. Small towns hold no secrets and the rumors quickly spread pointing a finger at Atlee's father, Tim, as being behind the crime and supposed murder of Mercy. This caused the family to pull up stakes and leave Andersonville in the middle of the night, never to return or speak with
anyone again from that town. Unfortunately, it is impossible to run away from your troubles and another victim of that old crime was claimed when Tim hung himself. Meanwhile, Atlee slowly became more and more estranged from her mother to the point where the FBI Agent currently has no contact at all with her.

A MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT opens with Atlee visiting the infamous serial killer known as Daniel James Tor as he sits in prison awaiting eventual execution. It was Atlee who was responsible for putting him there and that action took place in the prior novel, LONG ROAD TO MERCY. Atlee not only chased down Tor because of the horrific serial murders he committed but also because some of his crimes took place not far from where she grew up and she could not get past the fact that he might have had something to do with the disappearance of her sister.
Still hoping that her sister, Mercy, might still be out there somewhere causes Atlee to take a much-needed vacation. Actually, it's a 'working vacation' as she brings along her assistant, Carol Blum, for a trip back to Andersonville, GA, to reconnect with the locals and see what she can sniff up a few decades after her departure. Atlee and Carol referred to themselves in the last novel as a sort of 'Thelma & Louise' road-trip duo and the pair get the opportunity to hit the road again --- this time traveling from their offices in Arizona to Andersonville --- a small-town that looks as if time has stood still there.

The research visit to Andersonville will very shortly be interrupted by a very real murder. A young woman is found murdered in an alleyway near the only restaurant on Main Street, Andersonville. The body was obviously posed in some form of tableau that at that moment only made sense to her murderer. She was found with a wedding veil draping her face. Now, Atlee will team up with local law enforcement to see if this was an isolated incident or part of something larger. Of course, Atlee sees beyond any coincidence and knows that this murder in some way relates to her and her search for answers to her own families dark past.

Atlee reaches out to Jack Lineberry, a billionaire business owner and old friend of her parents. She knows Lineberry can provide answers to her burning questions since not only was he the one to find her father dead from suicide but he also professed to be in love with her mother. Additionally, she meets with an extremely odd couple --- Britta and Myron Pringle --- who were also friends of her parents. Myron, an extremely paranoid person, also was employed by Jack Lineberry. The Pringles lost both of their children in tragic circumstances which has obviously scarred them mentally and physically. Atlee also found out that Myron broke up a fight between her father and a man known as Barry Vincent the morning after her sister disappeared. The story Atlee was told was that Vincent was accusing her father of killing Mercy.

Baldacci keeps readers on edge as he see-saws between Atlee's quest and the local murders --- which have now stretched out to include a murdered man as well as a young foster boy --- each of which found the deceased in strange clothing and placed again in some sort of tableau. Everything will eventually snake together in nightmarish fashion and Atlee will find herself in the middle of everything with her life in serious jeopardy. Things will all end in violent fashion against the ideal setting to hide a murder --- the annual Civil War Reenactment event in Andersonville.

What David Baldacci does in A MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT is create another remarkable read with plot twists galore that let the pages practically turn themselves. His writing style allows readers to immediately enter the action and then forces them to strap in for another wild ride. He saves the biggest surprise for last in a moment that will provide an unexpected cliff-hanger which will have readers eagerly awaiting the next entry in this series.

Reviewed by Ray Palen for Book Reporter
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Reading Progress

November 15, 2019 – Started Reading
November 15, 2019 – Shelved
November 21, 2019 – Finished Reading

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