Hour Game by David Baldacci

November 30, 2011

Plot summary (from the publisher): He’s copying famous serial killers and the game has just begun.
A woman is found murdered in the woods. It seems like a simple case but it soon escalates into a terrible nightmare. Someone is replicating the killing styles of the most infamous murderers of all time. No one knows this criminal’s motives…or who will die next.

Two ex-Secret Service agents, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, have been hired to defend a man’s innocence in a burglary involving an aristocratic, dysfunctional family. Then a series of secrets leads the partners right into the frantic hunt that is confounding even the FBI. Now King and Maxwell are playing the Hour Game, uncovering one horrifying revelation after another and putting their lives in danger. For the closer they get to the truth, the closer they get to the most shocking surprise of all.

Warning: Spoilers below!

Liked:

  • The copycat serial killer angle was interesting. I found myself looking up a few of the killers that were emulated, and wondered why Baldacci didn’t just do that for readers to begin with. He had to have known we’d be curious!
  • I was kept guessing as to the killer’s identity for almost the entire length of the book. Was it the character Baldacci clearly set up to be the bad guy? Was it the briefly mentioned accountant with a hidden agenda against the Battle family? The clues were there and an attentive reader probably could have figured out that Eddie Battle was the one causing all the mayhem, but I failed to pick up on it until the answer was fairly obvious.
  • Having a couple other murders thrown in as red herrings was a good twist as well. That subplot also kept me guessing for a while. I eventually did peg the medical examiner Sylvia as Bobby Battle’s killer, but I was nowhere near the right track as far as the motive went.

Disliked:

  • The beginning of the book started off with a good hook, but the middle just dragged on and on and on. Seriously, this thing was at least 100 pages longer than it needed to be, and I had to slog through several dull interludes to make it all the way to the end.
  • The part where Eddie had a fake vein in his arm with lock picking tools concealed therein was just way, way, WAY beyond belief. That was so ridiculous I actually yelled, “Yeah, right!!” pretty loudly, earning a concerned look from my husband in the process.
  • All the crap about the Battle family’s history got boring after a while. Yeah, we get it… they’re just another fucked up, privileged bunch of rich white folks. No need to drill that point home over and over again.
  • Some of the minor characters were just dropped like a hot potato once they outlived their usefulness. Lulu Oxley? What happened to her? Mason? I hate when that happens.
  • So who killed Kyle (the medical examiner’s office assistant who was stealing and selling drugs)? Was it established that it was Sylvia? I thought she denied that when questioned by Sean. Was that just a run-of-the-mill denial, or was the person telling the truth? I guess I just wanted the book to end because at that point I wasn’t even paying much attention.

Rating:

Hour Game by David Baldacci was good in places, but dragged far too much and was too long to be considered anything other than average by me. The Sean King/Michelle Maxwell series still has potential, so I’ll continue reading the books when I have a chance, but they’ll never be a priority. I give this one 3 stars out of 5.

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