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Book Critique - The Sixth Man (King and Maxwell #5)

For review of all books in the series, go here.

Stars: 5 / 5

Recommendation: A fast paced thriller taking the readers through the myriad of conspiracies tied to the intelligence work in government and involving the various alphabet agencies, Baldacci kept the readers on their toes with the twists of mis-directions and turns of sudden reveals. A very entertaining book for all mystery lovers.

The Sixth Man is the fifth book in the King and Maxwell Series by David Baldacci originally published in April of 2011. In the continuing series of Sean King & Michelle Maxwell, Baldacci takes us on a case that leads them to a government conspiracy that goes way high up the ladder.

Sean King & Michelle Maxwell, two former Secret Service agents, now work as private investigators after retiring from the service. Each case takes them back to their former lives, sometimes pushing them closer to losing their lives. Yet they continue on in the pursuit of justice, case after case.

Ted "Teddy" Bergin, a defense attorney representing the alleged serial killer Edgar Roy, hires Sean King and Michelle Maxwell to investigate for him on the case. However on the way to meet Bergin in Machias, Maine, they find his dead body instead. Now Sean and Michelle take upon themselves to represent Edgar Roy and crack the case.

Baldacci spins a huge conspiracy involving high officials in the Government; a power fight between two companies dealing with intelligence field and it's various machinations; and a turf war between various law enforcement agencies. He takes us into a world where when a mind is used to it's maximum capacity, one can be tempted to play God.

Although his characters charm us, keep us grounded to the plot and some even irritate and frustrate us, Baldacci always manages to justify them to the role they play. However, two characters from this plot, raised my eyebrows. 

One is Kelly Paul. She is addressed all through the book as Paul as opposed to being called by her first name (only a handful of times it happens). It made her look more mysterious than she already was, but I felt that an odd trait in characterization by Baldacci.

Another one is James Harkes. A strong personality with darker shades worms his way into the readers hearts and takes a steady position more than the actual protagonists. It almost made me wonder if Baldacci would expand his character further and create his own line of books. He certainly warrants that.

These two characters also ended up driving the plot than the hero and heroine of the book - King and Maxwell. That was also slightly different from how Baldacci's books go.

As always when I read a thriller, I try to imagine who the antagonist would be. Although I couldn’t identify all of them until Baldacci revealed himself, aside from the two obvious ones, I was spot on in figuring out at least one other antagonist. 

Towards the end of the plot, it looked very clear that Baldacci was coming to a closure in the series. Having not read the next and final book, I sincerely hope that Baldacci gave them a fitting finale considering what all they went through.

A fast paced thriller taking the readers through the myriad of conspiracies tied to the intelligence work in government and involving the various alphabet agencies, Baldacci kept the readers on their toes with the twists of mis-directions and turns of sudden reveals. A very entertaining book for all mystery lovers.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Baldacci talks about the Five Eye allies. Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance between USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand first established in 1943. More about this alliance here.

b. James Harkes and Kelly Paul have a history. Would have been nice to see Baldacci start a new line of books around them. 

c. Michelle gets injured gravely in the end, is hospitalized and finally wakes up, much to Sean's relief.

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Primary Conspirators: Peter Bunting, Head of E-Program; Mason Quantrell, CEO of Memory Group; Ellen Foster, Secretary of Homeland Security.

b. Law Enforcement involved in the case: Colonel Mayhew, Chief of the Maine State Police; Lead FBI Special Agent Brandon Murdock; FBI Special Agent Chuck Waters; Lieutenant Erik Dobkin (Wife Sally pregnant with fourth child; three boys - Adam, Sam & ???); Carla Dukes, the director of Cutter's Rock prison; FBI Special Agent Barry.

c. Other people who end up being part of the plot: Martha's Inn's owner Hazel Burke; Hilary Cunningham, Ted's secretary; Mega Riley, associate attorney in Ted's office; Avery, Bunting's assistant; James Harkes, Foster's bodyguard; Kelly Paul, step-sister of Edgar Roy; Leon Russell, Edgar's boss at the IRS; Judy Stevens, Edgar's only friend.

d. King and Maxwell book series has been adopted to a TV show on American TV TNT in 2013. This was one of the books that got adapted into that series. NCIS: Los Angeles show creator Shane Brennan had created this TV show as well. Jon Tenney portrayed the role of Sean King and Rebecca Romijn portrayed as Michelle Maxwell. However, the show got cancelled after only one season. More about the show here.

e. Sean King & Michelle Maxwell seemed to have started a personal relationship as well, perhaps in the previous book, First Family. They ponder over it in this book. Also Maxwell's mother is mentioned to have passed away recently. Perhaps in the previous book?

f. An 11-year old boy named Gabriel from Alabama had briefly stayed with Sean and Michelle, but is now fostered with an FBI agent and his family. Perhaps from the previous book again? One can only tell after reading the previous books. 

g. Sean had been part of George H. W. Bush's Secret Service back when he was in that career. He mentions that US President's limo is called The Beast.

h. Some of the books, places and media Baldacci mentions along the plot:

i. Eastport, Maine is the first city in USA that sees sun. Baldacci mentions in the book and now it is added to my list of places to go. 

3. Grammatical / Character / Location / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 45, Line 10, doesn’t need two "and"s in that line.

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