“A Minute to Midnight: an Atlee Pine Thriller,” Grand Central Publishing, by David Baldacci
David Baldacci made his literary debut in 1996 with a political thriller, “Absolute Power.” He has since written novels with blinding speed, many of them action thrillers featuring men with military backgrounds.
With his latest, “A Minute to Midnight,” the author changes gears and offers a murder mystery that spooks and horrifies.
The drama begins as FBI agent Atlee Pine comes upon a registered sex offender trying to abduct a little girl. She overpowers the man and pulls the girl to safety, but she doesn’t stop there. She beats him until he is unconscious. In her mind, the man has become confused with the still unidentified individual who came into her bedroom when she was 6 years old, almost killing her and running off with her twin sister Mercy.
Ordered to take a vacation for having used excessive force in the incident, Pine returns to her hometown in Georgia and attempts to solve the crime that happened nearly 30 years ago.
With the help of her assistant, Pine interviews her former neighbors, family friends and a man who now lives in her childhood home. Many remember the horrific incident, but no one can shed any new light on it. Meanwhile, a woman’s corpse in a wedding veil turns up, followed by another in a tuxedo and yet another in an American Civil War costume.
Pine manages to solve these new cases and even discovers some surprising secrets about her parents, but the answer to her old case still evades her. For Atlee Pine fans, this is good news because it means Baldacci has another thriller about her in the oven.