A conspiracy centred on the Grand Canyon

I have read a number of books by the thriller writer David Baldacci. I find his novels fast paced and nearly always with a touch of the conspiracy theory about them. Long Road to Mercy is the start of a new series for this author with a female main character. Atlee Pine is an FBI agent and also a weightlifter. Her life has been totally affected by the fact that when she was a child her twin sister, Mercy, was taken from her bed in the room where they were both sleeping and hasn’t been seen again. I have to say that missing siblings or friends or children killed by a serial killer has been a recurring theme in crime novels I have read recently – it seems that everyone who joins any form of law enforcement seems to have done so because of a childhood trauma which then affects their work. This story actually doesn’t focus much on the historical crime but Atlee’s search for her sister tops and tails the book.

Atlee is stationed in an FBI outpost near to the Grand Canyon where she works mostly on her own and with the assistance of her secretary. She is called to the canyon when a mule is found dead and the tourist who rode it has disappeared. This is quite a simple start to what soon becomes a complex case. It looks like someone with some sort of power is trying to close down the case from above so Atlee can only trust a small group of people and has to investigate alone whilst claiming that she is on holiday.

It turns out, as I suspected given the author, that there is a conspiracy centred on the Canyon and only Atlee and her friends can make sure that the evil, and important,  people don’t get away with what they are attempting. The plot is reasonably straightforward to follow and the tension arises because Atlee doesn’t know who she can trust and who might be prepared to kill her.

The glory of this book is in its setting. I don’t know very much about the Grand Canyon but it is the main feature of this book and the showdown at the end of the story takes place in the Canyon itself. I think that the author describes it very well and he made me feel the heat and desolation as well as perceiving the beauty of the landscape.

This is not a great book. The plot is far-fetched, Atlee seems to have more skills and strength than might be expected of anyone and there are a few too many minor characters who pop up with pieces of knowledge or skills which are needed to drive the plot along. I did enjoy it, however, and am now looking to read the second in the series to see what happens in Atlee’s search for her missing sister – I suspect a conspiracy !

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