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Home Reviews Book Reviews Zero Day: Baldacci clarifies need for military-speak overkill

Zero Day: Baldacci clarifies need for military-speak overkill

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When asked why his new book, “Zero Day,” is chock full of “military speak,” mega-best selling author David Baldacci had a quick reply.

“I have a lot of friends in the military,” he said during a phone call from his office in Virginia. “It’s a delicate balance on being realistic [in] how they would speak to each other and describe things. It’s a world of codes and specialized knowledge.”

The book, which debuted earlier this month, is now number one on the New York Times best sellers list.

It introduces former Army Ranger John Puller, now the “best military investigator in the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigative Division,” who is assigned to solve the particularly brutal murder of Army Colonel Matthew Reynolds and his family in a small West Virginia mining town.

Baldacci said he based his hero on CID agents he’s known – agents who are called in when a crime  involving the military happens in a civilian environment.

“These guys tend to be very tenacious,” the author said. “I became interested in how the military would work in the civilian justice sector. The American people see a lot about the military soldiers and the Pentagon and the war. I wanted to take a soldier who had seen all that war and bring him back to work on domestic ground.”

Puller is a haunted man. A career Army veteran, he’s lost men in Afghanisitan, driving him close to the edge.

“As horrific as the murders of the Army officer and his family were, they couldn’t come close to what Puller’s seen in battle,” Baldacci explained. “He’s got a laser beam focus. When he misses something, people die. He can’t accept that. If he becomes unfocused, the edges would start to swallow him. He can’t allow that to happen. He’s like a machine in some ways, but right now, that’s the only way he can survive.”

Creating a new character has its own challenges.

“I really tried to focus on making John Puller the kind of guy who’s going to lead you through a story,” he said. “He doesn’t care about upsetting superiors or getting local cops mad at him. He needs to find out who killed these people.”

Puller’s father is a military hero. His brother, also an officer, is locked up for treason.

“For a military person, that’s an extraordinary amount of baggage – a legend on one side, a traitor on the other,” Baldacci said. “Having a father who was a major general is not always a good thing.”

Puller, however, decided to build a career in the Army. He didn’t attend West Point like his father and brother. He’s made his own way, on his own terms.

There are more John Puller books planned.

“This was the first book I’ve written where I sat down and knew this was going to be a series,” said Baldacci, whose book sales have reached over 110 million. “We’re sending it [‘Zero Day’] out to Hollywood this week. We’ll see what happens.”

Comments (11)Add Comment
written by a guest , December 11, 2012
So very, very similar to Reacher! The main differences are that Puller is still in the job and Reacher is out. Maybe the authors could do some cross referrals, or a joint novel? I love the two Puller novels to date, but Recher has more depth.
written by ArtsJunkie , December 04, 2011
Guest: I've heard John Puller and Jack Reacher are very similar. Lee Childs is now on my list ... Thanks for the comment.
written by a guest , December 04, 2011
Is John Puller the new Jack Reacher (Lee Child)?

I enjoyed Zero Day and look forward to more in this series.
written by a guest , December 02, 2011
Another excellent story..I will enjoy following John Puller as much as I have with Oliver Stone and the Camel Club.
Congratulations David..keep up the good work and I look forward to you one day coming downunder to Australia to meet your many fans..!
written by a guest , November 30, 2011
I just finished Zero Day - and loved it. Didn't notice the 'excess jargon' at all. Seemed perfectly normal to me considering the character! Love your books David, I have all of them!
To none
written by ArtsJunkie , November 29, 2011
No, it's not finished, thank goodness. Mr. Baldacci said his readers ask him about it all the time, so there will be more Oliver Stone stories. smilies/cool.gif
written by a guest , November 29, 2011
Is the Oliver Stone series completed?
written by a guest , November 29, 2011
In reading the synopsis of Zero Day, I immediately thought of Jeremy Renner in the role of John Puller. As I begin reading the book, he will be the character in my minds eye. Can't wait to begin this one. Love all the Baldacci characters - read them all.
a word from australia
written by a guest , November 29, 2011
love the current understanding of life in the US. liked this quote " underestimating or overestimating your ability can be fatal. There are guys out there better than me. He just wasn't one of them"
written by a guest , November 29, 2011
Happy to hear more John Puller books planned! Military Speak? Get Real! Closer to REAL has made this book an Awesome read and has increased my respect for this Author tremendously! Go for it David. Love you, Jude
written by a guest , November 29, 2011
The book worked for me, as an ex military myself (40 years ago) I did not notice the jargon; or excess of it. I do remember trying to decypher some of it before it got explained in later text (adds to the enjoyment). Also adding to this particular books enjoyment is the authors writing style reverting to his initial books style, in my opinion. Furthermore for those who have not read Zero Day - the culprit was Colonel Plum in the dining room.

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