Zero Day by David Baldacci, a review with spoilers and stuff

Zero Day by David Baldacci, a review with spoilers and stuff


April 3, 2017

In my ever-growing list of books I have read ‘Zero Day’ had not been on my list of a ‘have to read’.  Now don’t take offense readers of this blog and please Mr. Baldacci don’t you take offense either.  Hmm, Mr. Baldacci would have to be reading my blog to take offense… Do I want him reading my blog… OK, back on target.

As Gabriela Pereira has said in diyMFA, Read, I try to follow those instructions.  The other day the Grassroots Bookstore in Reno NV was having a warehouse sale, and I went in and purchased a lot of books.  In a number of different genres, sighs, the Muse wants me to point out by different genres I mean scifi, fantasy, fiction, and history.  Not new genres to me in the least but I didn’t only pick up books by specific authors. Plus I wanted to find some examples of other peoples thoughts on good writing.  I mean if I am going to be the one to be 'Writing stories that STEAL your imagination' I need to read more good stories, right?  See how I did that, put the tagline in from the SEO blog post?  See I'm learning

Before I go on, I should probably say that somewhere in all of this is going to be a review of Mr. Baldacci’s book and not to make you wait till the end I did enjoy it.  Thank you, Mr. Baldacci, for writing it, there will be spoilers so if that is what you were curious about did I like it?  Yes, I did.
Now, as Paul Harvey use to say, “And now for the rest of the story.”  If you don’t know who Paul Harvey is, it is merely one more proof that I am older than you are and you aren’t much on radio history.

I attended in August of 2016 the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in NYC.  What can I say about that well if you weren’t there, it was HOT, I mean stick to the pavement with your shoes hot, feeling like you were going to melt hot, did I mention it was hot?  Well it was hot.

I did meet @GabrielaPereira, and she was having her official release of diyMFa which was really cool.  I also met @jessicastrawser, I thought she would be taller for some reason.  Both ladies, very nice, very approachable, very happy to talk to someone who felt like for some reason he was going to be seen as a stalker and not a fellow writer.  I guess I have Dick Wolf and Special Victims Unit to thank for that!  Just kidding but yeah still did feel weird going up to women I didn’t know and start a conversation that started with “I like what you write” or words to that effect. 

At any rate, David Baldacci was the keynote speaker at the conference.  At first, OK, fine, shoot me, I couldn’t recall anything that he had written.  I mean I knew he had written some things, he had too, he was the keynote speaker at the conference.  They weren’t going to have the Pepsi delivery driver present the keynote address at a writer’s conference.  That might be cool, but yeah, not going to happen. 

Then I realized as Mr. Baldacci was speaking and the intro was being made, this was the guy that wrote ‘Absolute Power’.  Now don’t go getting all thinking that I read that book, I hadn’t, but I had seen the movie.  It was with Clint Eastwood and he play a burglar.  Now why that movie stuck with me was that I had actually been to one of the houses in Baltimore that they use as part of the movie.  I was “Wow, I’ve been there” and it stuck with me. 

So, there I am at the Writer’s Conference and Mr. Baldacci is the speaker.  He is warm, witty, charming, and easy to listen too.  He has more than a few stories about his writing career, again all witty.  I especially liked when he and his wife are out for a meal and he is mistaken for John Grisham and how he handles it, very nice in not making the woman feel like bad for getting his identity mistaken.  Again, what I would call a gentlemen. 

So, I am at the Grassroots Bookstore, in Reno, and I decide right then and there I’m going to pick up some books I would never usually pick up.  Right there in front of me are a number of David Baldacci books.  It’s a sign, a sign I tell you, and while also picking up some older Lin Carter and Poul Anderson books I pick up five or so of Mr. Baldacci’s.  it was nice too that they are all hardbacks, I enjoy reading hardbacks. 

So, here it is, ready?  Yep, this is the not so surprising review of ‘Zero Day’ by Mr. David Baldacci.  I liked it! 
Spoilers coming now! 

I like John Puller Jr, course as a protagonist he isn’t hard to like.  He is filled with courage, honor, a little bit of regret, he loves his family, he doesn’t like how his hard assed father treated him, he loves his brother even though he is in prison for being labeled a traitor.  I am sure there is a story there too, his brother being a traitor but we find that the brother, Robert, is more than willing to help John with his mission on finding out what is going on in Drake West Virginia. 
Sighs, OK, I just got that, Robert, John, they have the same names as the Kennedy brothers do.  At times I want to slap myself upside the head for not getting things like that a bit sooner. 

I do also like that Puller, as he is named in the book, isn’t the brightest of guys.  Don’t get me wrong he is smart but he isn’t 400 points on the IQ scale smart.  He states and thinks more than a few times that he needs to work the case, ask questions, keep digging, follow a pattern, now the Army has a way of doing things…  To me this all means that Puller is methodical and smart.  For a CID investigator these are not bad things.  CID by the way is Criminal Investigation Command.  I thought it was Division and not command but they might have switched things up.  Nice motto too: “Do what has to be done”  I think that pretty much sums up Puller’s take on things as well. 

So, what else I liked?  Samantha (Sam) Cole.  The town police officer, sgt, number two in command of the police force.  I am not where this exactly puts me on ‘the guy meter’ of all thing but I am glad that Mr. Baldacci didn’t go on and on about what Sam looked like.  I got early on; she’s blonde, smokes, and is good at her job.  I didn’t need to know if she had good legs, an amble bosom, etc.  I am also going to say right here:  “Thank you Mr. Baldacci for not having Puller and Sam have sex.”  I mean seriously does every story HAVE to have sex in it?  Do characters have to bang boots?  I didn’t mind the little sexual tension between the characters.  I am fine with people having sex, I’m all for it quite candidly.  I merely don’t like it where it feels forced or gratuitous and in this story that would have been what it was.  Gratuitous sex.  Thank you sir. 

With all that being said I enjoyed the story as well.  The side characters like Sam’s brother and sister were interesting diversions.  One of the characters being gay and being all but cashiered out of the army but he still had the support of his family.  That normally would have been, or too easily have been that the man’s father couldn’t respect him and that didn’t happen. 

I found that Puller’s father being a retired, by the book, hardnosed general to be interesting as well, that he either has dementia or Alzheimer’s or both made him an interesting side character to me as well.  What I would expect it would be if Patton or MacArthur had been someone’s dad and they had joined the army after retirement.  Again it might be considered expected but I found that I enjoyed it. 

I had determined that the big cement dome was going to be something because I found it out that it was described and then just forgotten for a good amount of the book.  My writer’s eye said ‘that is going to be something, probably a place to blow something up.’  It was, I hadn’t expected nuclear I had gone more with a methane gas build up but perhaps that was a bit too simplistic too.  With Robert’s help, Puller is able to diffuse the bomb, but not without causalities, Sam dies.  As it is said by many, ‘kill your darlings’ and Mr. Baldacci did. 

So, after all of this, Puller saves the day, doesn’t get the girl, and takes a vacation with his cat, AWOL, great name for a cat by the way. 
I did read this book in a 24-hour period, not because it was easy to read I enjoyed it that much.  Thank you, Mr. Baldacci. 

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