Daylight (Atlee Pine #3) – David Baldacci

Daylight Atlee Pine David Baldacci
Daylight by David Baldacci
Also by this author: Bullseye, Mercy, Dream Town
Series: Atlee Pine #3
Published by Grand Central Publishing on November 17, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
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FBI Agent Atlee Pine's search for her sister Mercy clashes with military investigator John Puller's high-stakes case, leading them both deep into a global conspiracy -- from which neither of them will escape unscathed.
For many long years, Atlee Pine was tormented by uncertainty after her twin sister, Mercy, was abducted at the age of six and never seen again. Now, just as Atlee is pressured to end her investigation into Mercy's disappearance, she finally gets her most promising breakthrough yet: the identity of her sister's kidnapper, Ito Vincenzo.
With time running out, Atlee and her assistant Carol Blum race to Vincenzo's last known location in Trenton, New Jersey -- and unknowingly stumble straight into John Puller's case, blowing his arrest during a drug ring investigation involving a military installation.

Stunningly, Pine and Puller's joint investigation uncovers a connection between Vincenzo's family and a breathtaking scheme that strikes at the very heart of global democracy. Peeling back the layers of deceit, lies and cover-ups, Atlee finally discovers the truth about what happened to Mercy. And that truth will shock Pine to her very core.

David Baldacci has kind of a thing for developing dual plots. One plot will start and end during the book; the other is an overarching plotline that is slowly resolved throughout the series. The Atlee Pine books are no different, with the twist of Daylight, the third book in the series, being a crossover with John Puller. Puller has been my favorite Baldacci character since Oliver Stone and, at least for me, steals a bit of Atlee’s limelight. It’s not a crossover that fits neatly and, if I had to guess, was done with the intention of getting fans to jump over to the Atlee series as well.

The Atlee Pine series stands out because of its eponymous female protagonist. While Baldacci has his men-writing-women moments and the whole female-empowerment motif is a bit overdone, the characterization and plotlines are enjoyable. They’re as over the top as any of Baldacci’s novels and, if you’ve liked his previous books, there’s no reason why you won’t enjoy these as well.

By Daylight, Atlee has made significant progress in the search for her sister. For those who don’t remember, Atlee’s twin sister was kidnapped when they were both six. The kidnapper left Atlee with a crushed skull and almost dead. A major motivation for Atlee’s FBI career has been tracking down her long-lost sister.

Daylight puts that storyline in the forefront. Atlee has a substantial lead—one that comes after discovering the truth of her parents’ shadowy past. It’s a complex line involving failed witness protections, snitching on the Mafia, and a rather bizarre motivation for Mercy’s kidnapping. Baldacci manages to get readers to suspend belief for the crazy storyline by writing a compelling story with just enough mystery to make you think that maybe everything will all be explained in the end.

The B-plot involves a drug ring that John Puller was trying to bust when Atlee inadvertently walked into the sting operation of sorts. Turns out the guy who may be connected to Mercy’s kidnapping might also have some info on a drug trafficking ring. This plot turns out to go much deeper and up to the halls of power as Baldacci explores the ways the rich and famous subvert the law. It’s a bit complex of a storyline for no more play than it gets and really could have used more time to develop. Readers are expected to just take certain things for granted (though Baldacci is very good at making sure we do just that.)

Daylight is the Baldacci formula to a T. If you like his novels, you’ll be at home here. If you’re looking for high literature, go somewhere else. This is all about the crazy what-ifs and page-turning, credulity-straining, high-octane thrills. Atlee just does it with a fair bit of female empowerment rah-rah behind it. It’s a fun, fast-paced novel and, I would imagine, leads into the final Atlee Pine book coming soon.