Book Critique - Hell's Corner (The Camel Club #5)

For review of all books in the series, go here 

Stars: 4 / 5

Recommendation:  Another plot well written by Baldacci taking readers into the world of cartels, espionage and warfare. You can still read this as a stand-alone book too.

Hell's Corner in the fifth and final book in The Camel Club Series by David Baldacci, first published in November of 2010.

The Camel Club is a group of people who are primarily political watch-dogs looking for conspiracies in the government and thwarting them to safeguard the country. The original members are Oliver Stone, the leader of the club and ex-member of triple six division of CIA; Reuben Rhodes, a Vietnam Vet; Caleb Shaw, employee of the Library of Congress; and Milton Farb, a child prodigy. Four more members get added to the club as the series progresses - Alex Ford, a Secret Service Agent; Kate Adams, Lawyer at the Department of Justice; Harry Finn, former Navy SEAL; and Annabelle Conroy, a compulsive thief.

Right before Oliver Stone is shipped out on a mission, a bomb goes off in the Lafayette Park in Washington D.C., almost taking out the Prime Minister of United Kingdom. Now he is teamed with Mary Chapman from MI6 to uncover the conspirators behind the bombing. Despite his resistance, Stone reaches out to his Camel Club to delve into the depths of the investigation.

In this final episode of The Camel Club, Baldacci throws in everything except the Kitchen Sink, I felt. Yet, it kept the reader gripped. Why not! He takes us from Russians to Mexicans to British and American conspiracies; takes us into the world of terrorism involved at the molecular level. He throws in twists after twists that at one time spun my brain, yet did not give me giddiness. Instead it made me alert at every turn of the page. 

As I was reading Hell's Corner, right on the heals of the Jason Bourne books that I read a few weeks ago, Baldacci's Oliver Stone turned out to be more and more as Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne. 

Stone had left the CIA, but now is forced to go back in. Time and again he is betrayed by people he trusts. And has very few whom he calls as his friend. A distinct similarity with Jason Bourne, don’t you think so? 

The Camel Club members came out as those that poke their nose in your business no matter what because they love you and want to protect you. Baldacci brought a family feeling to Stone even though he is knee deep in a conspiracy that would almost cost his life, again!

Considering this is the last of the books in this series, we see a lot of past of the characters mentioned at almost every other turn of the page. Clearly that was an indication that Baldacci was coming to a closure with this series, even if one hadnt known prior to reading this book. 

Baldacci provides a map of Lafayette Park and area around White House, particularly focusing on the Hell's Corner, in the book. It is a security nightmare and a jurisdiction battle for the various law enforcements in D.C.. And hence appropriately termed as Hell's Corner.

A fitting closure to the series even though it went in a roundabout way, uncovering conspiracies and betrayals, facing fears and foes, and above all a story that brings family to the one who has been all alone his life. Another plot well written by Baldacci taking readers into the world of cartels, espionage and warfare. You can still read this as a stand-alone book too.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Milton Farb, one of the Camel Club member, is revealed to have been dead. Perhaps in a previous mission?

b. Stone had taken out two prominent Americans to avenge the death of his wife and child, and also for destroying his life. Which book was that in? We will know only when one reads all books. 

c. Baldacci mentioned that there was not a single US President whose is seen with reading glasses in public. I didn’t believe it to be true. When I did a little google search, it did show that no American President has ever wore reading glasses in public. Interesting. 

d. Alex Ford is severely injured while trying to save the life of U. S. President. But he wakes up at the end of the plot showing that he survives. 

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Olive Stone aka John Carr, had lost his wife three decades ago. Has feelings for Abby Riker, who was not ready to leave Divine, Virginia; and Stone is not ready to settle there. 

b. People from various agencies that Stone comes across in his mission - National Intelligence Center, NIC, new director Riley Weaver; MI6 Director, Sir James McElroy; ATF agent Stephen "Steve" Garchik; FBI Special Agent Tom Gross; ATF Labrador Dogs Roy and Wilbur; FBI Special Agent Laura Ashburn.

c. Other people along the way - Marissa Friedman, a lawyer and a lobbyist; her married lover Willis Kraft; Adelphia, a one-time activist along-side Stone; Dr. Faut Turkekul, an economist; Carme Escalante, a crippled Mexican refugee; John Kravitz, an arborist; George Sykes, National Park Services member; Judy Donohue, another Park Services member; Joe Knox, a ex-CIA member.

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

i. Baldacci mentions about a town called Divine in Virginia. Interesting name, and another place added to my list to go.

ii. Baldacci also comments about the fact that Lafayette Park has more squirrels per square inch than any other place on earth. No one knows why. Curious isn't?

iii. I have been interested to see a Ginkgo Tree for a long time, that are predominantly in China. Through this plot, I came to know that Lafayette park also has Ginkgo Trees. Another visit to DC warrants perhaps. 

iv. Caleb, member of Library of Congress, talks about The Great Gatsby and Wuthering Heights.

v. Stone talks about Sherlock Holmes short story Silver Blaze.

vi. Washington, VA is famous for their Inn at Little Washington. Another place to see if I go there.

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

a. On Pg. 107, it was clear that in the interrogation room other than Friedman, the only agents were Gross, Chapman and Stone. However on Pg. 113, in the last line, Baldacci mentions that Gross looked at the other three. Shouldn’t it be "other two"?

b. On Pg. 233, no where does Baldacci include in the conversation that tells that the Mexican worker, Miguel, had left before he saw the man come down the ladder after removing the basketball hoop. But on Pg. 369, when he has Chapman and Stone recount that conversation, he adds in that Miguel had left before the man came down the ladder. 


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