■ REVIEW: King and Maxwell
King and Maxwell more enjoyable in right order

King and MaxwellIn what at first appears to be a straightforward story, a teenage boy is told his father – a soldier – has been killed in action in Afghanistan but then something extraordinary happens: he receives a communication from his father.

The boy, Tyler, hires private investigators Sean King and Michelle Maxwell in this latest in the “King and Maxwell” series, asking them to solve the mystery.

Their investigation raises more questions than it answers: is Tyler’s father still alive, what was his mission, and could his son be the next target?

I tend to be a bit of a magpie with books, picking up whatever shiny cover takes my interest and diving on in.

Most of the time – even when the book in question is part of a series – this is fine. I’ve read many a series out of order and still enjoyed them, but David Baldacci’s “King and Maxwell” series wasn’t one of those that falls into the “OK in any order” category. Which is why I very nearly stopped after the first book I picked up: book three of the now six- parter, Simple Genius.

That one left me a little cold, and I had some trouble believing the relationship and interactions between the two main characters, ex-Secret Services agents turned private investigators.

Luckily, I hunted out the first two books in the series and having read those, I found this one a lot easier to digest.

I know some readers won’t touch a sequel or part of a series without reading everything that came before, in order, but I normally don’t have a problem with it.

However, in this series I felt like an outsider looking in; like I was missing the point of some well established in-joke that everyone else knew. Reading those first two books filled in some gaps and I ended up really enjoying this latest offering.

From their first encounter with Tyler, as he wanders a highway in the middle of the night, to the very conclusion, this is full of action, twists and insight.

King and Maxwell, by David Baldacci (Macmillan, RRP $38)

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