Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Camel Club, by David Baldacci

The Camel Club, by David Baldacci

The plot on the surface isn't deep: four political crackpots accidentally witness a murder by rogue government operatives and spend the next 600 pages being chased by a powerful conspiracy with far-reaching goals. Of course, all four witnesses have unique skills and make a few well-placed friends along the way to a climactic showdown inside a secret CIA training facility. After a few predictably ridiculous coincidences, other than the one tragic death of a minor character the heroes all end up "happily ever after." Not the most original story, but it was entertaining and a guilty pleasure.

The undercurrent of politics in The Camel Club shows that the American government has morphed into Big Brother, with all the main intelligence gathering agencies combined under a single command. Considering the recent scandals with government spying this looks at first blush as if Baldacci is prescient (this was written in 2005), but we quickly see that the author is simply writing from a liberal point-of-view when radical Islamists kidnap the President using tranquilizer darts rather than live ammunition against the Secret Service—remember that America is evil here and not the misunderstood terrorists! Interestingly, at the close of the book the governmental espionage organizational apparatus remains in place and all the crimes of the novel are blamed solely on the responsible individuals; the lesson seems to be America isn't evil after all but needs to keep a closer eye on its people: Big Brother is justified!

First Sentence:
The Chevy Suburban sped down the road, enveloped by the hushed darkness of the Virginia countryside.

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