The Edge (6:20 Man, 2)
“Baldacci fans will find this new series to be as exciting as his previous stories and will certainly look forward to the continuing adventures of Travis Devine, the ‘6:20 Man.’”
So how dangerous can train travel be between Geneva and Milan? Travis Devine, in David Baldacci’s newest 6:20 Man story, The Edge, is about to find out. “As far as Travis Devine was concerned this ride was fraught with peril of the kind that would not send you to a hospital, but rather a half dozen feet into the cold earth.”
Only two thuggish looking men and one young female artist share the coach, but it does not take long for Devine to realize that the men are not tourists. He dispatches them quickly, but the woman? She is not fast enough to fulfill her goal, and Devine quickly puts her out cold. Should he have given her the same sendoff that he gave the two men? Probably, but a in moment of sympathy he leaves her unconscious, an action he may soon come to regret.
Devine soon finds himself back in Washington, DC, sitting across from Emerson Campbell, retired Army two-star Ranger. Campbell has an assignment for Devine and it won’t be easy. Jennifer Silkwell, daughter of ex-senator Curtis Silkwell, has been murdered. She worked for the CIA but this is more personal to Campbell. Jennifer was his goddaughter.
Devine packs his gear and heads to Putnam Maine, home of the Silkwell clan, with his marching orders: Find out who killed Jennifer Silkwell. Devine begins to collect information. Curtis Silkwell is currently in hospice care without long to live; his ex-wife Clare is remarried and living in DC. She is estranged from the senator and her two surviving children, Dax and Alex, who both live in Maine—the first signs of something dysfunctional.
Devine arrives in Putnam Maine and sizes up the small community where everyone knows everyone and everyone’s business. His first stop is Bing and Sons funeral home to view Jenny’s body, where he meets Dr. Francois Guillaume, medical examiner for the small community, and Sergeant Wendy Fuss of the police department. He is quickly greeted by Chief of Police Richard Harper. It does not take long before Devine comes to realize that the welcome mat is not out for the Feds.
It appears that no one in the community is greeting Devine with open arms. And the more time he spends researching the Silkwell family, the sooner he learns that small towns have large secrets that the residents don’t choose to share with outsiders.
Earl Palmer, the older lobsterman who found Jenny’s body, suffered his own loss when his wife was recently killed by a hit and run driver. And 15 years earlier, Alex Silkwell was raped by an unknown assailant—a fact that she has not gotten over many years later. Then there is the death of Earl’s daughter and son-in-law not long after Alex was raped.
All unattached events . . . or are they? Just as Devine is gathering information and trying to stay focused on Jenny’s death, he becomes the target of a sniper. He survives the attempt on his life but can’t help but wonder if this is due to his investigation into Jenny’s death.
Devine becomes convinced that there is a thread connecting all of the deaths with Jenny’s when Earl is found hanged at his home. And just as Devine is pulling that thread tight, he himself is kidnapped. He escapes with barely his life, and here Baldacci throws a wrench into the works. Although the kidnappers escape, they have left clues in their foreign languages and behaviors, and a woman is also seen with them as they make their escape.
This event tosses kindling into the fire when Devine realizes that maybe the woman on the train several weeks earlier has tracked him down with her goal being his demise. Could the sniper of a few days earlier been one of these foreigners and not someone local?
To add to his woes, Devine is taken into custody by the local police for breaking and entering Alex’s art studio. It is a poor charge but sends the message to Devine that he may be getting a little too close to the truths than is comfortable for the residents of Putnam, Maine. Devine’s mind went “tumbling through a number of scenarios. Who would have thought such a little town would have such big secrets? And problems.”
As the story further unfolds, Devine becomes aware of Benjamin Bing, uncle to Francois Guillaume and Fred Bing, who years ago was attracted to Alex Silkwell, but the attraction was not returned. As more information is uncovered, Devine’s focus turns to Benjamin when he learns that the man has not been seen in his Florida home in two weeks. The question becomes: Did he rape Alex and did Jenny know?
As the story further evolves, the deaths continue to add up, and the threads begin to tighten. The clues increase in number including past affairs and an illegitimate birth and more lies than Devine can keep track of.
Baldacci has a knack for piling up the clues and red herrings, and just when the reader is convinced they know who dunnit, the tables turn and either someone dies or is proven to be innocent. Fans will find this new series to be as exciting as his previous stories and will certainly look forward to the continuing adventures of Travis Devine, the “6:20 Man.”