Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Review: A Minute to Midnight

Every once in a while Shira will be reading a book she thinks we might both enjoy, and she'll opt to read it aloud. I enjoy audio books, so I find this quite the treat. It turns reading into a shared activity, like binging a TV series. Unlike TV, we can do this while multi-tasking.

So for the last few weeks, while I loaded and unloaded the dishwasher or was cleaning the kitchen for Passover, Shira narrated David Baldacci's A Minute to Midnight.

In A Minute to Midnight I got to meet Atlee Pine, the hero of the book. I like her. Mostly. She's thoughtful and confident, without being insufferable and cocky. I can't tell if her weight lifting past adds detail to her character, or puts her over the top.

The pace of the book felt slow, but if I'm kind, I can chalk that up to Baldacci trying to keep things realistic. She encounters a series of puzzling murders, and I can appreciate that it takes time to put all the pieces together.

One aspect of the book I found surprisingly enjoyable was how Baldacci had a number of plot details that initially seemed like author goofs, but upon further reflection made sense.

Take Pine's childhood. Are we to believe that a trained FBI agent wouldn't spot the massive inconsistencies in her own parent's behavior? She can tell when a stranger is lying to her, but doesn't recognize the suspicious behavior in her own parents?

Actually, I buy that. For must of us, whatever our childhood was, was by definition normal. We can't imagine our parents as inexperienced human beings with their own baggage because to us they are Mom and Dad, not real people.

Or consider the presence of the Pagani. Are we to believe that a baddy would opt to be seen in a 20 million dollar car in a resident neighborhood? That's ridiculous. But when we consider the role of the car was to attract attention and that the person who selected the car didn't know the details of what they were picking, the choice seems plausible. Who would have thought the flashiest car in the garage would turn out to be absurdly unique?

One quirk of the book I haven't decoded: its title. I missed the first chapter (Shira started reading the book to herself before she made it an audio book), so maybe the answer was in there. But honestly, I have no idea what the title is referring to. I guess I'll have to hit Google to find out.

Should you drop everything and read A Minute To Midnight? Sadly, no. It's a fine read if you like a good o'l murder mystery, but there wasn't anything here to make it stand out for me. The story was generally slow and snapped into place at the last moment in typical fashion.

Still, as a shared reading experience, it was a positive one. And we will definitely be back for the next book in the series.

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