A MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT (Atlee Pine #2) - by David Baldacci

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Published: October 2019 - Pan Macmillan. 
Genre: Adult / thriller / contemporary.
Pages: 464.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence / sexual innuendos. 
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily read and reviewed this book. All thoughts are my own. 

Atlee Pine has spent most of her life trying to find out what happened that fateful night in Andersonville, Georgia. Her six-year-old twin sister, Mercy, was taken and Atlee was left for dead while their parents were apparently partying downstairs. One person who continues to haunt her is notorious serial killer, Daniel James Tor, confined to a Colorado maximum security prison. Does he really know what happened to Mercy?

The family moved away. The parents divorced. And Atlee chose a career with the FBI dedicating her life to catching those who hurt others. When she oversteps the mark on the arrest of a dangerous criminal, she's given a leave of absence offering the perfect opportunity to return to where it all began, and find some answers. But the trip to Andersonville turns into a roller-coaster ride of murder, long-buried secrets and lies.

And a revelation so personal that everything she once believed to be true is fast turning to dust.

I've read a few of David Baldacci's novels (including the first in his Atlee Pine series, which is this book's predecessor), and when it came to A Minute To Midnight, I was thoroughly intrigued to continue Atlee's story.

I’m not sure if I’m disappointed, or just indifferent. The book isn’t outstanding in any way, but it’s what you’d expect from a good David Baldacci novel: fast, fun, and action-packed. The dialogue is sharp and witty, although irritatingly melodramatic at times, and the settings and descriptions are just enough to ground us in the story. They’re a strong backdrop to the action that’s unfolding, although never quite palpable.

The plot - specifically the mystery - is the best part of this story. It’s excellent. Clever, tight, woven seamlessly into the plot and expertly paced, and keeps you guessing until the very end. I loved the twists and revelations, and more than anything I loved having the wool pulled over my eyes. Truly, the mystery is thrilling. The final reveals are delicious, and it’s all so smart.

As I mentioned in my review of the first Atlee Pine novel, I don’t like Atlee Pine. She’s unbeatable, admired, praised, and respected by everyone (even her enemies) and despite the author’s attempts to throw in some human interest subplots (her friendship with Eddie, her family tragedy) she still remains larger-than-life. I want a flawed, human protagonist; I also want a heroine who is made up of more than underdeveloped masculine stereotypes - which Atlee isn’t.
Furthermore, my number one pet peeve is when all the secondary characters forever praise and admire the protagonist. It’s cringeworthy and unrealistic. 

One thing I did appreciate about Atlee’s story, however, is how much more we got to see of her tragic past and specifically her parents’ lives. It’s all so fascination and intriguing, and I enjoyed seeing the history and backstory fleshed-out.

A Minute To Midnight is fun, fast, and elevated by a brilliantly crafted mystery. 

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