David Baldacci is not really my kind of writer, but Annabelle, the heroine of The Collectors, is absolutely the kind of person I identify with. So, having read the blurb I bought the book, and having opened the book I couldn't put it down.
Jerry Bagger is the brutal owner of a casino in Atlantic City who was once the victim of a scam by Paddy Conroy. Jerry's kneejerk reaction to any aggravation was KILL (he was in Atlantic City because he had been thrown out of Vegas for littering the place with dead bodies – he, of course, always had an alibi and a team of lawyers) but Paddy had disappeared. So Jerry killed Paddy's wife. Who was Annabelle's mother.
Now, years later, the child has grown up and is intent on revenge. She is a better con artist than her father ever was. He took Jerry for ten thousand dollars. The beautiful Annabelle plans to take him for millions.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Jonathan DeHaven, a division head at the Library of Congress, dies in mysterious circumstances, and the members of Oliver Stone's Camel Club, a strangely assorted group of men in their fifties (there is an earlier book I have not read, The Camel Club), decide to investigate. One of them is also a librarian and had been DeHaven's assistant at the Library of Congress. But they very soon come up against some very powerful forces: a government conspiracy, in fact.
The two storylines merge when it transpires that the dead head librarian was Annabelle's ex-husband.
But it stops in the middle! You have to buy the sequel, Stone Cold, to read the rest of the story!
In Stone Cold, a mad Jerry Bagger ($40 million dollars down – and he had fallen for her!) is hunting Annabelle, and a certain Harry Finn is hunting – and killing one by one – all those involved in the murder of his father, an American spy who married a famous Russian spy, Harry's mother, now an old woman with only one thing on her mind: revenge. Which is certainly the theme of these two books.
Again the two storylines merge. And again I was up all night reading.
Incidentally, I've been rethinking my aversion to novels which end in a cliff-hanger – that is to say which don't end at all, which simply come to a stop half way through. It occurred to me the other day quite out of the blue that this is not something new and reprehensible, part of the "horror" of ebooks and mass self-publishing, but rather the traditional way of bringing out novels. After all, in the 19th century the three volume novel - the triple-decker - was the standard form of publishing for fiction; and not only in the 19th century: look at LOTR. So there you go. Who says I'm intransigent?