Baldacci characters King and Maxwell made their debut in the 2003 novel Split Second, a convoluted tale of murder and revenge, in which former secret service agent turned lawyer Sean King and the delightful, if somewhat disorganized Michelle Maxwell team up to thwart nefarious demons from their shadowy spook-filled past.
Split Second is a 500 page donkey choker of a book, that is sure to delight fans of the fast moving crime thriller. Baldacci is of course the most pulchritudinous man in publishing [TM Crimezine]and has been churning out crime classics since the mid nineties, when he kicked off his career with the masterful Absolute Power.
The Crimetime emergence of King and Maxwell as a TNT television show has facilitated a new printing of Split Second in end of aisle paperback format. But is it any good we hear you ask. The plot is certainly twistier than a Chandleresque charabanc ride through the Hollywood Hills, or in this case the rolling hills of Virginia. There is also plenty of will they won’t they love interest possibility thrown into the mix, with the additional love triangle sauciness of former King fling Joan Dillinger stirred through for good measure.
Of course, there is a reason why the King and Maxwell chemistry is so strong. King like Baldacci is a Washington man, a lawyer, a man who has changed his career. Meanwhile, in real life, the beauteous Mrs. Baldacci—also happens to be called Michelle. Coincidence? We think not Crimeziners.
There are problems too, however. There is a revolving dessert cart of supplementary characters in this book that will make your head spin off its stalk. We also get a clunky quantity over quality feel on occasion that can be distracting. Frankly, Balders could have cut two hundred pages out of this tome and it would have smartened up the field of play no end. But in fairness, this 2003 read was the first in a series, and Baldacci has tightened things up considerably since then, most notably in 2009’s awesome First Family and the equally splendiferous Sixth Man (2011).
No doubt the nice people at Grand Central Publishing are hoping for a reprint bonanza as the new King and Maxwell show airs on TNT channel. Sadly, there might be a problem here. The show has already been universally panned by critics, as bland, cheesy and generic. Whilst this may be true, such attributes are not necessarily a hindrance to success on mainstream American television—as the legion of half baked shows that pack the schedules are testament to.
The cast of King & Maxwell includes, Rebecca Romijn, who plays the part of the ballsy and impulsive Maxwell, whilst Cloonyesque heartthrob Jon Tenney plays creaky-kneed charmer King. So far so good, until we meet Edgar Roy, played by Sons of Anarchy’s Ryan Hurst. Now you might say it is de rigueur these days, for every crime show to have their very own idiot savant, but poor old Edgar is a shambling monosyllabic computer nerd to beat out all others—greasy shoulder length hair, check, mutton chop side burns, check, googlesome retro-framed glasses that make him look like a dribbling playground pedophile—well, you get the picture. But guess what, he is a “genius” with computers. Quelle surprise.
Then there is the script.
So bad it would seem it has been cobbled together by a team of teenage interns. At one point in the premier episode, a character tells the investigative duo that it has been, ten years since her husband was around, so she cannot be much help—then she reaches to an otherwise empty cupboard and pulls out her husband’s address book—perhaps this would be useful—she enquires brightly. Yes, perhaps it would.
TNT is inundated with ampersand monikered crime shows at the moment—Franklin & Bash. Rizzoli & Isles, and now King & Maxwell. No crime in that you might say—but you would be wrong, because TNT murdered Southland, so that this cookie-cutter cobblers might draw breath. For shame.
If you want to get in at the beginning of the King and Maxwell story Crimezine recommends Split Second, just don’t leave it in chomping distance if you have a pet donkey, the consequences could be dire indeed. David Baldacci publishes the latest eponymously titled King and Maxwell thriller November 19, 2013.
The King & Maxwell books in order
Split Second 2003
Hour Game 2004
Simple Genius 2007
First Family 2009
The Sixth Man 2011
King & Maxwell 2013