Source: Review copy
Publication: 4 August 2022 from MacMillan
My thanks to Laura Sherlock and Macmillan for an advance copy for review
A journey that took him to hell . . .
Having survived combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and been decorated with medals, Travis Devine mysteriously leaves the Army under a cloud of suspicion. And at thirty-two years old, he’s swapping fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda for a different kind of danger in the cut-throat world of high finance.
His daily commute on the 6.20 a.m. train into New York’s financial district, to his new job as an analyst at the minted powerhouse investment bank Cowl and Comely, takes him into a world where greed, power, jealousy and ambition result in the financial abuse of the masses and the enrichment of an elite few. But it is on this daily journey that he passes a house where he sees something that sounds alarm signals he cannot ignore.
A close friend of Devine’s, Sarah Ewes, is the first victim and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death at Cowl and Comely compel him to investigate further. As he digs deeper, he discovers strange coincidences and unnerving truths. As the deaths pile up, and the major players show their hands, he must question who he can trust and who he must fight.
Well hello Travis Devine! I am mightily pleased to meet you. Travis is the 6.20 man. Once a Captain in the Rangers, our 32 year old handsome protagonist has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan but for reasons of his own quit the Army and went into Wall Street as a low level number cruncher with the firm Cowl and Comely.
Though unencumbered by any romantic or marital attachment, Devine prefers to live in the suburbs outside of NYC where he can at least see small patches of green when he’s not got his nose to the Cowl and Comely grindstone.
His daily commute consists of taking the 6.20am train from Mount Kisco into Manhattan. Devine has a preferred seat on the way in and another for the way home. That’s because there’s a point in the journey where the train pauses every day and through a gap in the trees he can catch a glimpse of an attractive woman who works out by the pool every morning. She’s obviously wealthy, or at least the house owner is – it looks like more of a mansion than anywhere Travis could ever hope to afford.
In fact he shares a house with 3 other young professionals, each of whom is making their own way up the corporate ladder. Helen Speers, a lawyer; Will Valentine, a Russian computer whizz and white-hat hacker; and Jill Tapshaw, owner of a start-up online dating agency business.
He’s just got into work when he receives an anonymous email telling him that his colleague Sarah Ewes, whom he briefly dated, has died. She has been found in a storage cupboard in the Cowl and Comely building, hanging from a pipe. Though they only briefly dated and told no-one about their relationship, Devine knows he’s taking a risk if he doesn’t disclose it. And then – who sent him the e-mail and why?
Travis then finds himself trapped between the proverbial rock and hard place. On the one side, the Police want to question him and find out how well he knew Sarah. On the other is Homeland Security. They pick him up and using information about his previous Army career, strong-arm him into looking into Cowl and Comely. They’ve had their eye on the firm for some time and they believe that Sarah’s death is not suicide but murder. Sarah, they tell him, was murdered for what she knew about their illegal and dangerous operations which threaten the security of the United States. And so now Travis must be their inside man, looking into the firm and its founding partner, Brad Cowl.
It’s a role he’s decently equipped to handle. He has the financial skills from his analysis work and the physical and mental fortitude from his time in the army. But the more he pokes around the firm’s business, the murkier the business looks. While he tries to stave off the close interrogation of NYPD Detective Carl Hancock, he finds that there is no-one he can trust in this web of corruption, money laundering and murder.
With his life threatened more than once, Travis has to take risks and make judgements about who to trust. He asks for help from Will Valentine and what he uncovers is a devastating conspiracy.
Baldacci’s thriller is dark and suspenseful. He puts his finger neatly on the conjunction between financial fraud and the subversion of democracy in a tale that is a page-turning, shocking thriller. As ever, his characters are immensely likeable and the plot line, though complex and layered, is well laid out and easy to follow as Travis navigates his way through the mire that is corrupt financial wrongdoing and murder for profit.
Every time you think you know what’s going on, Baldacci pulls the rug out from under your feet with yet another plot development. It’s a wild and thrilling ride with a protagonist you’ll come to like a lot.
Verdict: Unpredictable, surprising and with a new character who shows every sign of lasting beyond book one, The 6.20 Man is an action packed political thriller with great characters and lots of entertainment value.
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David Baldacci is one of the world’s bestselling and favourite thriller writers. With over 130 million copies in print, his books are published in over eighty territories and forty-five languages, and have been adapted for both feature-film and television. David is also the co-founder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation®, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across the US.