No Man’s Land: David Baldacci
Paul Rogers has one goal in mind and that is to take out all of the people that created the monster he has become. A serial killer, mass murderer and yet thinking that what he has become is the fault of others who created the experiments that played with both his body and mind, he is determined to get revenge. Over 30 years ago five women were murdered and he was the one who committed the crimes but no ever knew it was him. Spending time making sure he remained fit and toned up he spent years planning his revenge timing it he hoped perfectly only to learn that no matter what anyone did to him in these experiments he would never be the same and all the revenge and retribution would not change it.
John Puller Jr. is a Chief in the CID and is reckless, smart and persistent when on a case. Thirty years ago his mother left him and his brother Robert, not telling them where she was going, leaving them with a babysitter and never coming back. Although her life was her children and her husband a four star general, cold and calculating, Jackie Puller would never desert her boys. So, what really happened to her? Why didn’t the military take action and find out? When John decides to pursue the case because someone accused his father in the present of the murder, he becomes involved in a conspiracy that goes way back to military cover-ups, lies, deceits and a place called Building Q. Within those walls you can still hear the screams, pain and anguish that the subjects underwent in order to create the perfect person that would live forever.
Josh Quentin and Suzanne Davis had a relationship that was not orthodox or usual. Helen Myers owned a bar called The Grunt and Quentin had his own special room to do as he liked with anyone he wanted. Thought to be a great scientist and yet having little knowledge he and Helen Myers and Clair Jericho were passing secrets to someone from the French Government dealing with whatever was happening in Building Q.
As the author reveals more about Josh and Helen we wonder just what the relationship really is and John gets some help from Veronica Knox and the two of them get along as well as oil and water. They clash, distrust each other and wind up hunting down Paul Rogers who is after the people who destroyed his life and him. Turning him into a killing machine and being tested over and over again with scars and much more that most would fall apart but whatever they did he became immune to pain and feelings.
The Atalanta Group is behind whatever is going on and although Puller never heard of him he has a link by the name of Anne Shepard. Pictures taken of technical drawings and formulas might be too advanced for John to understand but it from appearances looked like Josh Quentin had been passing secrets to Helen Myers at Grunt and she passed them off to someone else. Cell mutation and dealing with exoskeletons and liquid armor that would make someone impervious to harm. The catalyst who started it all and has the power to destroy everyone as she did Paul Rogers and turned him into a monster killing machine was Claire Jericho. Confronted by John she seem impervious to emotion and above the law threatening him with jail time and blackmailing him into doing what she asks.
When Puller comes face to face with the truth just how does this link to his mother’s disappearance and death? Chris Ballard holds the patents for all of the work being done and the information needed for the commercial applicants is sought after and is worth unbelievable amount of money. Ballard controls them all. But, somehow he appears to be running things as a young woman named Suzanne Davis seems to be his caregiver and wants everyone to believe that she and Josh have a special relationship. But, something about Paul gets to her and they become an unholy team and they seem drawn to each other. If Ballard dies his money and patents go to a charity all of it. The government contracts only cover military applications. The Atalanta Group has no control over or rights to the applications. Those revert or go back to the beneficiary if Ballard dies which would change it al for everyone involved. Jericho’s dealings with the Frenchman named Charpentier get cratered as the author puts it. But, Jericho is selling this man the commercial applications and they might find out and what she has been doing but can they stop her?
With the help of his brother Robert, and the information he can get that no one else can obtain can they work out a plan to take down the three who are dealing with what is happening in Building Q? As Veronica and Puller are shot out, almost killed when someone tampers his car, pulled out and saved by Rogers, but why, things take on a dangerous turn as author David Baldacci literally blindsides the reader with an ending that will send you wondering who are the good guys and who can you really trust?
When Helen Myers and Quentin are held hostage by Paul Rogers what happens in this scene is quite graphic and will either endear you to Rogers and hope for his salvation or make you wonder just why someone might take a blind eye to what he has done. But, murder is the answer and when Diane goes to the bathroom and Helen creates her own story to make John think she is going to come out shooting at them and carrying a gun, the scene plays out but just who winds up with the bullet and who walks away? Truths, lies and deceits come front and center as the truth behind his mother’s death will shock readers and the final ending will create a surprise you won’t expect. As everyone remembers John Puller Sr. and reveres him even though he has memory loses and is not always coherent, there are many who covered up what happened in Building Q, the fact that Paul Rogers killed five women and was scene burying the last could explain something vital to John. Who lives? What happens when Paul escapes again from prison? What happens at the end to let you know that there might be more to come for both Paul and Diane if they ever find their own common ground? Where does everyone wind up at the end and will John Puller find closure? Why did they want him off the case and why was he suspended? An ending delivered that will allow readers to know just why author David Baldacci is the primer mystery/thriller reader creating that perfect blend of surprise, suspense, intrigue and murder to a story that will make you shiver and bring chills down your spine as you the reader enters Building Q and learns the truth behind the research and pray that what continues on there won’t be the same. Paul Rogers got out of jail, broke probation, three away his papers, changed his identity and appearance coming back to take out Ballard and Jericho as they created their version of a Super-soldier program with highly classified but not completely secret. Just what role did John Sr. play and how was he connected you won’t believe it until you read it for yourself. Sometimes we live a life that is not entirely under our control and sometimes we have to rekindle the past to unlock the future and realize that people or humans need to depend on one another and cannot or should not manage all alone and therefore no man is an Island. No man stands alone.
What about Paul, John, and Robert? Which one will remain in No Man’s Land?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine