The Collectors, by David Baldacci; Read by L.J Ganser with Aimee Jolson and Richard Mover
The over-the hill gang from the Camel Club is back, and this time they're joined by beautiful con artist Annabelle Conroy, a woman with a tender heart and nerves of steel. When Caleb's boss, the head of the rare books department at the Library of Congress, is found dead, the rest of the Camel Club members, Ruben, Milton and Oliver, join Caleb in investigating his boss' secrets and finding his killers. Unfortunately this puts them in the path of Robert Seagraves, CIA agent by day and rogue killer by night. In a parallel plot, Annabelle Conroy and her band of scam artists carry out an ingenious scheme to relieve the murderous, despicable New Jersey casino owner Jerry Bagger of $31 million in retribution for his murder of Annabelle's mother. When instead of leaving the country after the scam Annabelle breaks her own rules and follows her heart, she finds herself becoming an unofficial member of the Camel Club. If she thought Jerry Bagger's casino was dangerous, she finds that visiting the Library of Congress could be even more hazardous.
David Baldacci's characters strike the listener's palate like peanut butter - at once sweet and salty, crunchy and smooth. There's librarian Caleb, timid and unassuming, motor-cycle-riding Viet Nam vet Ruben, computer geek Milton and ex-CIA assassin and current social protester, Oliver. Annabelle, with her wily, beautiful sweetness, adds the jelly to this mix. Their dissimilar backgrounds and characteristics blend perfectly to make them an effective team in their fight against government conspiracies and murderers. Baldacci weaves the two parallel story lines into a helix full of unexpected but believable events. Having three readers tell the story with their various voices creates the illusion of a full cast of readers. The talented actors intensify the power of Baldacci's writing in this audio book by their ability to add tension, emotion and suspense to his words.
This is the kind of book that leaves the listener wanting to hear more. Not only are the story elements intriguing, but the characters are fascinating and likable, making the book hard to turn off. An added feature in this book is the inside information Baldacci provides about the world of scams and con artists. Perhaps he's conned us into eagerly awaiting another romp with the Camel Club gang, but it's one that would be worth the wait.