16 January 2011

Book Review: Deliver Us from Evil by David Baldacci

Deliver Us From Evil Shaw works for the Agency, an organisation which does the things “civilised” countries don’t want to tarnish their reputations by pursuing through official channels. His current job: Snatch Canadian businessman Evan Waller during his holiday in Provence. In exchange for talking about his plans to traffick enriched uranium to terrorists, Waller will be allowed to return to his other sideline - trafficking underage girls. Shaw isn’t at all happy with this deal, but he isn’t in a position to complain.

Unbeknownst to the Agency, Evan Waller is actually fugitive Ukranian war criminal Fedir Kuchin. As Kuchin, he’s attracted the attention of a British vigilante group which has run out of Nazis and now hunts any monster it can find. Leading their team on the ground is Reggie Campion, a talented assassin who’s not about to let anything - or anyone - stop her killing Kuchin during his holiday in Provence.

I have a serious case of location envy. Provence sounds wonderful. Art exhibits in caves, fields of lavendar and sunflowers, colourful markets, a village filled with buildings rendered in the local ochre, sunshine... Can I just pack my bags now?

Okay, the book. You could read it without having read the preceding novel, The Whole Truth, and part of me wishes I had. It’s so hard to review and rate it on its own merits, and not compare it to the one before. But then, I never aimed to be an impartial reviewer, just to say what I thought and and give the grade best reflecting my opinion.

I couldn’t help comparing. And I thought it lacked most of what had me ploughing through most of The Whole Truth in a single night. It didn’t have the emotional impact. I didn’t like Reggie as much as I did the women in the previous book, and thought her reason for following her unusual career was rather hackneyed. And Waller/Kuchin is your garden-variety psycho, doing evil things because that’s just the way he is. Certainly some of his acts are memorable, but there’s little to make the man himself stand out from the general population of thriller-novel psychos.

But it’s still an entertaining read; perfect for the holidays and a holiday for the brain. I’d like to know more about Reggie’s boss/mentor/Svengali/whatever, Professor Mallory; there’s clearly more to him than has been seen so far. Katie James made a welcome reappearance; it’s such a refreshing change to see a platonic relationship between two main characters of opposite genders. I enjoyed seeing a softer side to Frank Wells.

And I defy anyone to read the introductory description of Alan Rice and not think of Julian Assange.

Rating: B-

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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776