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No Man’s Land by David Baldacci
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is not the Author’s best work by far. The thesis behind the novel is excellent and I was absorbed with that once we got to the actual story. The first 200 pages are very slow in setting up the story. In fact, so slow, that this section of the of the 479-page novel could have been covered with more concentrated action in about 50 pages without losing anything. I found myself skipping through the boring parts. After those first 200 pages the pace picks up and our protagonist, John Puller and the apparent arch-enemy, Paul Rogers, get down to business near Ft. Monroe and the affairs of secret building “Q” on that base. I would have liked a better description of Rogers’ bone and muscle enhancement job as well as the brain manipulations done by the mastermind Claire Jericho to make Rogers into a warped human super warrior, but that was not to be. Other than the initial boredom factors, my main reasons for downgrading an author as strong as Baldacci were his flaws in what should have been simple technology and physics. First, in a tale in which someone can take over the ignition, steering, and acceleration of your car to the point of causing a fatal crash, one would think that having Puller use his cell phone and computer to do research and to contact big brother, Robert, would be a dead giveaway on locating our hero to knock him off. This never happens and it isn’t until about p. 400 that our author acknowledges the easy traceability of cell phones. Yet, having noted the flaw, he never goes back and has Puller using a landline, library computers and other more clandestine methods to conceal his whereabouts. The second error which really floored me was the author’s lack of understanding of the basic physics of water pressure on a sunken car and that by letting the water rise above the door level, one can quite easily open the car door and simply swim to the surface. The hilt of a Ka-bar knife is also pretty efficient at breaking a windshield on a car if necessary in an emergency of doors not opening. Even so, I still enjoyed the read and will continue to go back to those older well thought out novels by Mr. Baldacci and look for more fertile efforts. All in all, I like his style of writing.
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