cover image The Sixth Man

The Sixth Man

David Baldacci. Grand Central, $27.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-446-57310-8

At the outset of Baldacci's routine fifth thriller featuring ex%E2%80%93Secret Service agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell (after First Family), the pair, who now work together as private investigators, fly to Maine to meet Ted Bergin, King's old law professor. Bergin has hired King and Maxwell to assist in his defense of Edgar Roy, a U.S. government employee who's been indicted for murdering six people found buried on Roy's Virginia farm. Because for some reason it's a federal case, Roy is incarcerated at a Maine prison. Near their destination, the PIs stop to investigate a broken-down car on the side of the road. Inside is Bergin, who's been shot between the eyes. King and Maxwell probe deeper into the charges against Roy to find the professor's killer, with no help from Roy, who hasn't been talking since his arrest. A fast pace compensates only in part for a cartoonish villain%E2%80%94a venal politician%E2%80%94and a familiar Washington conspiracy plot. (Apr.)