Split Second by David Baldacci – Book Review [Bane of Kings]


Bane of Kings reviews Split Second by David Baldacci, the first in the King and Maxwell series, published by Pan in the UK and the Grand Central Publishing in the USA.


“Split Second starts off fantastically!” ~The Founding Fields


I brought Split Second on a whim in September after hearing good things about David Baldacci’s work, and wanting to expand my reading in genres that aren’t Fantasy or Science Fiction, thus I didn’t really know what to expect. Would Split Second live up to my expectations, and would it convince me to pick up the next instalment in the King and Maxwell series, Hour Game?

Normally, with novels like these where you don’t have to read right from the start to understand what’s happening, I tend to jump right in at the deep end, but this time, seeing as I had the option of starting at the start, it would be a bad decision to turn that option down.

Seeing as I don’t want to make up my own plot summary when there’s a fantastic one already out there, here’s the blurb taken direct from David Baldacci’s website:

Michelle Maxwell has just blown her future with the Secret Service. With heavy reluctance, she let a presidential candidate out of her sight to comfort a grieving widow. Then, behind closed doors, the politician whose safety was her responsibility vanished into thin air.

 Living a new life on a quiet lake in Central Virginia, Sean King knows how the younger agent feels. He’s been there before. In an out-of-the-way hotel eight years earlier, the hard-charging Secret Service man allowed his attention to be diverted for a split second. And the presidential candidate Sean was protecting was gunned down before his eyes.

 Now, Michelle and Sean are about to see their destinies converge. She has become obsessed with Sean’s case. And he needs a friend — especially since a series of macabre killings have brought him under suspicion and prompted the reappearance of a seductive woman he’s tried hard to forget.

As the two discredited agents enter a maze of lies, secrets, and deadly coincidences, they uncover a shocking truth: that the separate acts of violence that shattered their lives were really a long time in the making — and are a long way from over…

 With an adrenaline rush on every page and a plot that springs one jaw-dropping surprise after another, David Baldacci’s new novel will plunge you into a dangerous realm of rage, desire, betrayal and revenge.

The premise certainly did look interesting, after all – with a blurb like this, it leaves many possibilities ranging from an epic crime thriller to a boring book that will leave you feeling as though you’ve wasted your money, and should have brought that Kiss the Girls by James Patterson that you’ve been trying to get for a while instead.

I’m pleased to say that, although not being an earth-shattering novel, Split Second is certainly a very entertaining opener to the King and Maxwell series, although that only seemed like it was for the first half of the book. After that, it just seemed to wither away, and quickly dropped from what would have been a five star rating to a mere three at best and a two point five at worst.

Throughout most of the book, the thrills and mystery is enough to keep the reader turning as you want to find out what interlinks our two main characters, but you will no doubt find yourself disappointed as you reach the end, with the villain appearing to be your bog-standard, one-dimensional maniac that will leave the reader thinking that the character should have been done so much better, and judging by what I’ve heard about Baldacci’s work, it should have been so much better.

Sure, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the first half of the novel. It grabbed me right from the get go, with the three main protanagists (Michelle Maxwell, Sean King and King’s old flame Joan Dillinger), start off as interesting and well-developed, with a great potential for a love triangle, but even that is not as good as it could have been.

I’d like to talk about the ending of Split Second now, and this is what really let it down for me. The plot is far-fetched and the big-reveal is well, dull and cheap, despite the fact that it had so much potential to be more.

 However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Split Second’s opening is awesome, and even though you will gradually lose interest in the book as it goes on, the start is still worth reading. The start was good and it just kept building from there, opening with a bang and until I reached halfway through the novel I believed that it was going to end good as well.

An interesting part about Split Second is that you get an insight about how the American Secret Service works, which was something that I didn’t have any idea about before I read the novel, so I was intrigued in that aspect, even if this was fiction and the author may have taken a few creative liberties. Well, you know that saying; you learn something new every day, don’t you?

I can sadly say that I will not be picking up another King and Maxwell Thriller, although judging from the reactions to Baldacci’s Camel Club series; I may have to look into that though. But I’m not going to go in with high expectations as I did with this one, and that was probably another reason why I didn’t enjoy this as much as I would’ve done.

Verdict: 2.5 – 3 /5

 More King and Maxwell: Split Second, Hour Game, Simple Genius, First Family, The Sixth Man.

 More David Baldacci: The Camel Club, The Collectors, Stone Cold, Divine Justice, Hell’s Corner, True Blue, The Christmas Train, Last Man Standing, Wish You Well, Saving Faith, The Simple Truth, The Winner, Total Control, Absolute Power.  


Bane of Kings is one our most senior book reviewers here at The Founding Fields, based in England. He’s a prolific reviewer that has contributed to many things here and around the internet.


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