Web London roars into a dark alley one night with his FBI Hostage Rescue Team. Seconds later, the team is ambushed and every man is dead-except Web. As the FBI conducts their investigation, the suspicion surrounding Web deepens. Now, he needs help from an unlikely ally in his desperate search for the killer of his friends, and finds himself up against a force determined to finish the job that began in the alley-killing the seventh and sole surviving member of Charlie Team, Web London.
Last year's Wish You Well, a historical family drama set in rural Virginia, proved that Baldacci, previously known for his thrillers (particularly his debut, Absolute Power), can do much more than supply maximum suspense. His latest is another exciting thriller, but one that hasn't forsaken the ambitions of Wish You Well, plumbing the emotions and exploring the shadings of human nature in an impressive way. And for the first time, Baldacci has created characters that readers will demand to see back in a sequel. He has chosen an immensely interesting subject: the (real-life) FBI Hostage Rescue Team, a force so elite that many of the Seals, Delta Force grads and other special ops who apply to it don't make the cut. Baldacci's hero is hostage rescue team superstar Web London, who inexplicably (to himself and others) freezes during an operation that leaves the rest of his team dead; hence, the book's title. Web's investigation into the massacre involves him with several bands of criminals, most notably a white supremacist terrorist cell, a gang of D.C. drug peddlers headed by a charismatic giant, and a secret group involved in both terror and drug activities. At the same time, Web's exploration into why he froze leads him to psychoanalysis and hypnosis, to budding romance and, ultimately, to revelations that tie together all the strands and questions of the immensely complicated plot. This is Baldacci's most accomplished thriller. The action, conspiratorial and overt, shifting from urban to rural and back, is nearly nonstop and expertly drawn; heroes and villains alike are believable and equally flawed; and there's a newfound maturity of tone here, a somber acceptance of the suffering that necessarily attends human life. (On-sale Nov. 6) Forecast: The American flag waving on the book's cover will draw readers' eyes; the strong title and the Baldacci name will carry them to the cash register. Expect hefty sales. Simultaneous audio cassette (abridged and unabridged), audio CD (abridged) and large-print editions. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Grand Central Publishing
August 30, 2002
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Excerpt from Last Man Standing by David Baldacci
Web London held a semiautomatic SR75 rifle custom built for him by a legendary gunsmith. The SR didn't stop at merely wounding flesh and bone; it disintegrated them. Web would never leave home without this high chieftain of muscle guns, for he was a man steeped in violence. He was always prepared to kill, to do so efficiently and without error. Lord, if he ever took a life by mistake he might as well have eaten the bullet himself, for all the misery it would cause him. Web just had that complex way of earning his daily bread. He couldn't say he loved his job, but he did excel at it.
Despite having a gun welded to his hand virtually every waking moment of his life, Web was not one to coddle his weapons. While he never called a pistol his friend or gave it a slick name, weapons were still an important part of Web's life, though like wild animals guns were not things easily tamed. Even trained lawmen missed their targets and everything else eight out of ten times. To Web, not only was that unacceptable, it was also suicidal. He had many peculiar qualities, but a death wish was not one of them. Web had plenty of people looking to kill him as it was, and once they had nearly gotten their man.
About five years prior he had come within a liter or two of spilled blood of checking out on the floor of a school gymnasium strewn with other men already dead or dying. After he had triumphed over his wounds and stunned the doctors tending him, Web started carrying the SR instead of the submachine gun his 1.comrades-in-arms toted. It resembled an M16, chambered a big .308 bullet, and was an excellent choice if intimidation was your goal. The SR made everyone want to be your friend.
Through the smoked-out window of the Suburban, Web eyed each fluid knot of people along the corners and suspicious clumps of humanity lurking in darkened alleys. As they moved farther into hostile territory, Web's gaze returned to the street, where he knew every vehicle could be a gun cruiser in disguise. He was looking for any drifting eye, nod of head or fingers slyly tapping on cell phones in an attempt to do serious harm to old Web.
The Suburban turned the corner and stopped. Web glanced at the six other men huddled with him. He knew they were contemplating the same things he was: Get out fast and clean, move to cover positions, maintain fields of fire. Fear did not really enter into the equa-tion; nerves, however, were another matter. High-octane adrenaline was not his friend; in fact, it could very easily get him killed.
Web took a deep, calming breath. He needed his pulse rate to be between sixty and seventy. At eighty-five beats your gun would tremble against your torso; at ninety ticks you couldn't work the trigger, as blood occlusion in veins and constricted nerves in shoulders and arms combined to guarantee that you would fail to perform at an acceptable level. At over one hundred pops a minute you lost your fine motor skills entirely and wouldn't be able to hit an elephant with a damn cannon at three feet; you might as well slap a sign on your forehead that read KILL ME QUICK, because that undoubtedly would be your fate.
Web pushed out the juice, drew in the peace and for him there was calm to be distilled from brewing chaos.
The Suburban started moving, turned one more corner and stopped. For the last time, Web knew. Radio squelch was broken when Teddy Riner spoke into his bone microphone or "mic." Riner said, "Charlie to TOC, request compromise authority and permission to move to yellow."