In our nation's capital, a motley band of four men, highly
intelligent and decidedly un-mainstream, hold regular meetings of
what they affectionately call The Camel Club. They have no
clubhouse, no regular agenda, and no real organization. Their
discussions range far and wide, most politically focused, all
well-considered and thoroughly provocative. "[America] needs to
recognize that there are many ways to be free. I fear that we still
see the only way to resolve things is our way."
One night, they watch in silent horror as a pair of men dump a body
and pump a bullet into it. Believing that their word would be given
little credence, the quartet avoids going to the authorities,
opting instead to track down the gunmen themselves. But the trail
they follow leads them to a whole lot more than a mere
Oliver Stone, the de facto head of the Club, leads a simple
life as cemetery caretaker and government protester. Oliver is a
man who shed his name decades ago in favor of one whose most famous
holder espouses views this Oliver aligns himself with. An official
permit gives him the right to a tent space across from the White
House, where he can champion his causes on placards. Oliver is an
observer. He knows much of the comings and goings of the leaders of
the greatest nation in the free world. But what he is seeing now is
disturbing him more than ever.
Fortunately, Oliver has an unlikely ally in Secret Service Agent
Alex Ford. While the Secret Service turns a blind eye to the import
of this murder and a couple of other seemingly unconnected deaths,
Alex jumps in with both eyes wide open. Joining forces with the
Camel Club takes a while to work out, but once he does, a bold plan
is smoothly choreographed. If they don't work to stop who's behind
this plot, they know the consequences could be cataclysmic.
Consider this: if you believed that the world was heading in a
direction that could bring about humanity's complete destruction,
what would you do? A good place to begin would seem to lie with the
President of the United States, arguably the most powerful person
One man believes so passionately in the need for immediate radical
change that he sets in motion a plot against President Brennan. But
this isn't just the same trite assassination plot. Much more is
involved. Much, much more. So, are the reasons behind the plot
altruistic, personal or something more devious? As the story
unfolds, betrayal at some very high levels is uncovered and heroes
are found in some surprising areas.
The members of the Camel Club will charm you as much as they will
challenge your opinions. "...what happens when you have a
country that was artificially created by a colonial power, jamming
three distinct and incompatible groups into one boundary. A
one-size-fits-all democracy is not an effective foreign policy when
you're dealing with such different cultures." Or, "Did you
really think you would waltz in and save the Iraqis and everything
would be peaceful? ...One cannot bomb people into a democracy. That
comes from the ground up, not the sky down."
In the midst of the characters' debates about right and wrong,
Agent Ford fights to save his job, his new love, and ultimately his
life, just as Oliver Stone and the Camel Club fight to puzzle out
the answer to what happened to President Brennan.
With an utterly relentless pace, David Baldacci maps out a course
with more twists and turns than a good autocross circuit. This is
one scary book.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 11, 2011