A Minute to Midnight: Atlee Pine discovers just who Atlee Pine is

What is this about?: Atlee Pine goes back to the town where her sister was kidnapped and her life forever changed.

What else is this about?: Given the above, it seems fitting she’s back there when her life changes again. Big Time.


‘My sister was abducted from here nearly thirty years ago. The person who took her was never found. And neither was she. Her abductor nearly killed me. So I’m back here now trying to find the truth.’

Atlee Pine has spent most of her life trying to find out what happened that fateful night in Andersonville, Georgia. Her six-year-old twin sister, Mercy, was taken and Atlee was left for dead while their parents were apparently partying downstairs. One person who continues to haunt her is notorious serial killer Daniel James Tor, locked away in a Colorado maximum security prison. Does he really know what happened to Mercy?

The family moved away. The parents divorced. And Atlee chose a career with the FBI dedicating her life to catching those who hurt others. When she oversteps the mark on the arrest of a dangerous criminal, she’s given a leave of absence offering the perfect opportunity to return to where it all
began, and find some answers. But the trip to Andersonville turns into a roller-coaster ride of murder, long-buried secrets and lies.

And a revelation so personal that everything she once believed is fast turning to dust.

Even after reading A Minute to Midnight, I still feel like I don’t quite have a grasp of who Atlee Pine is. Baldacci is doling out information sparingly, giving readers (me) just enough to remain interested, but frustrating because it’s not enough either. Am I just being greedy?

Atlee and Carol (still the best partnership there is) return to Andersonville, the town where her sister Mercy was kidnapped, and where everything changed after. Her family moved away, her parents divorced, her father passed away and then her mother walked out on her. In between all that Atlee joined the FBI and became convinced that Daniel Tor, a notorious serial killer had kidnapped her sister.

After a run in with a suspect where she loses her cool, her supervisor asks her to put her past to rest. Atlee deecided to return to Andersonville with Carol and start at the beginning.

Andersonville and Atlee Pine

I thought Andersonville would afford readers further insight into Atlee, but instead her visit to the town raises more questions about her parents and who they really were. Atlee meets their friends, and tries to piece together what happened the night Mercy was kidnapped, and comes up with more disturbing questions.

Their friends are an interesting bunch — nothing like the image Atlee had in her head. They are all now very successful at what they do, but things don’t quite make sense for Atlee. They have their secrets, and none really seem open to sharing them with her.

However, when people start getting murdered in this small town, Atlee finds herself working two cases, and partnered with someone from her past, Laredo. He is a an agent from her past, and someone with whom she didn’t have the best experience. Here though he’s a changed man, and wants to make some sort of amends with her. Together the begin to investigate the murders in Andersonville.

I think Carol and Atlee’s partnership remains a highlight of this for me. And woe to anyone who underestimates Carol’s pull in the FBI, as Laredo finds out in this book. Carol is the one with whom Atlee shares everything first, and who is her sounding board as she begins to investigate her family’s past.

Baldacci begins to weave the threads of these two very different cases together, resulting in a ending that was unexpected to say the least and resets things for this series and Atlee.

However, there’s still something that prevents me from connecting with this character, and I cannot for the life of me figure things out. Can it be the pacing? I adore her partnership with Carol, and when there with someone to bounce off I think Atlee’s fantastic!  Baldacci draws out the investigation, and I feel a little like my patience was tested — but he’s much the same with Amos Decker, another series of his I enjoy, but I don’t feel the same with that series.

Questions questions… have you ever had trouble connecting with characters like this, but can’t for the life of you pinpoint why?



  • Silvia says:

    I think we all have troubles connecting with characters sometimes, it’s something bound to happen at some point . . . I get the frustration of not knowing exactly why, though. It happened to me in the past as well and, for the life of me, I couldn’t put my finger on the reason behind it. I’m sorry this happened to you, Verushka, but the unexpected ending sounds good. Fingers crossed for a great connection with the characters next time!

    • Verushka says:

      There is definitely enough to keep me intrigued by this series, but I am beginning to wonder what my threshold is for focusing on the plot more than the characters. We’ll see!

  • Jen Mullen says:

    Hmmm. I haven’t read this series, but your review makes me curious. I suppose I should start with the first one.

  • Kelly says:

    I keep reading Atlee Pine as Atlas Pee, gosh I’m tired. After the second book, you really need to develop a character in it’s entirety for readers or they tend to lose interest or feel disconnected like yourself. It sounds as though Atlee needs another character to make them more interesting and give them a likability as well. I like the premise but I’m a reader who needs more from characters as well. Will there be other books in the series? Hopefully the next one takes character development into account because it certainly needs more. Great review Verushka, really enjoyed it.

    • Verushka says:

      Atlas Pee?! Oh my darling, i hope you got some rest!

      The beginning of this series hit the right notes in terms of developing the character, but yeah, I need more than her baggage to define her — and I need something more of the character. I am hoping the revelations in this book will give the author a chance to do exactly that with her in the following books in the series (there had better be more given the cliffhanger!)

  • There has been a few times that I just couldn’t connect with the characters or just found irritating and it just makes me hard to enjoy the story. I’m sorry to hear that is how it was with this one, it sounded like it would be a good one.

    • Verushka says:

      It was hard in some ways to truly get into this, but it had its moments. If the cliffhanger ending hadn’t happened, I would have happily set this aside and not continued, but I am hopeful that the ending is going to open up new avenues for the character. And more secondary characters for her to bounce off so she can develop further.

  • Ugh, not being able to connect with the characters is the worst, especially if you can’t figure out exactly what it is that’s keeping you from connecting. Glad to hear the book still had some good moments though.

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