Deliver Us from Evil
The word Evil is displayed in huge red font on the cover of Baldacci’s latest thriller. This display could not be more appropriate. Deliver Us from Evil is not for the squeamish. Baldacci’s newest hero, Shaw, returns in this sequel to his first international thriller, The Whole Truth (2008), but this time Shaw has competition. His objective is to snatch Evan Waller from his vacation villa in Provence. Waller is a true villain, a human trafficking, nuclear-arms dealing super villain; but unbeknownst to Shaw, Waller’s villainy runs even deeper. He is actually Fedir Kuchin, a sadistic former KGB butcher who has tortured and slaughtered thousands. Thanks to this hidden past, a group of low-budget vigilantes is after him as well. During the long build-up in Provence, a budding romance fraught with irony develops between Shaw and the vigilantes’ point girl, Reggie Campion. Unfortunately, romance can’t overcome the dangers of competing mission objectives, and the two finally stumble over each other and botch the whole thing. Shaw and the vigilantes are left looking over their shoulders as they flee the vengeful Kuchin and attempt to regroup. Their forces now joined, Shaw and Reggie attempt to once again turn the tables on Kuchin and outmaneuver him before he can make them his latest victims. The chess match between Kuchin and his pursuers finally leads to an exciting and death-defying confrontation in chilling wilds of Canada’s Labrador. Deliver Us from Evil offers intense action and a lot of drama. Baldacci writes beautifully, and his descriptions of London, Provence, and even Labrador would inspire readers to grab a plane ticket and see for themselves. That is, if it weren’t for the horrible things that his villain does in the midst of these beautiful settings. In order to establish the pure evil that is Kuchin, Baldacci includes graphic torture scenes and touches on subject matters that definitely make this book an adults-only affair. One detractor in this latest effort is the downward spiral of Shaw. Baldacci expands the characterization of his new protagonist beyond the James Bond super hero of The Whole Truth; unfortunately, this characterization results in a brooding, angry man and readers may be left wondering why they are supposed to like him at all. Reggie, on the other hand, is a relatively appealing character, with her own set of skills and her own demons. Perhaps Baldacci would do better to give her the lead in his next thriller.