Zero Day: John Puller, book 1

Zero Day: John Puller, book 1




Big blasts come in small towns.


From David Baldacci – the modern master of the thriller and number-one worldwide best-selling novelist – comes a new hero: a lone Army Special Agent taking on the toughest crimes facing the nation. And Zero Day is where it all begins….
John Puller is a combat veteran and the best military investigator in the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigative Division. His father was an Army fighting legend, and his brother is serving a life sentence for treason in a federal military prison. Puller has an indomitable spirit and an unstoppable drive to find the truth.
Now, Puller is called out on a case in a remote, rural area in West Virginia coal country, far from any military outpost. Someone has stumbled onto a brutal crime scene, a family slaughtered. The local homicide detective, a headstrong woman with personal demons of her own, joins forces with Puller in the investigation. As Puller digs through deception after deception, he realizes that absolutely nothing he’s seen in this small town, and no one in it, are what they seem. Facing a potential conspiracy that reaches far beyond the hills of West Virginia, he is one man on the hunt for justice against an overwhelming force.
David Baldacci is one of the world’s favorite storytellers. His books are published in over 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with over 110 million copies in print. He is also the cofounder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting literacy efforts across America. Still a resident of his native Virginia, he invites you to visit him at and his foundation at, and to look into its program to spread books across America at
©2011 David Baldacci (P)2011 Hachette


Drake, West Virginia is a sleepy coal mining town. That is until a high ranking military officer and his family are found brutally murdered.
Army Investigation Officer John Puller is sent in to investigate the crime. However, he is not offered much in the way of support from the military and must rely on a Drake Police Sgt. named Samantha Cole. As the investigation continues, Puller discovers that there is a lot more going on in Drake, and that it reaches the highest levels of government.
This is a solid introduction to the character of John Puller. Puller is often compared to the character of Jack Reacher, developed by Lee Child. There are some undeniable similarities in the two, however I also see a number of differences.
Where Jack Reacher is a drifter and has no problem making and breaking his own rules, Puller is a career military man that strives on structure. Reacher has no family connections, while Puller is close with his brother and obviously cares deeply for his father, a military legend named Fighting John Puller. I also can’t imagine Jack Reacher ever owning a cat.
The story moves at a methodical pace and takes a while to really get going, but Baldacci is able to raise the stakes in a big way as the plot unfolds. It is hard to find a more intense situation than the potential detonation of a nuclear bomb.
The book does feature a twist ending that I could see many readers feeling is unnecessary. Yes, the way it’s all laid out, the ending does make sense, but the story would have also worked pretty well without it. I personally liked the book’s final revelation but could see others saying it was one twist too many.


This is the first novel I have ever read by David Baldacci. I enjoyed the experience quite a bit. As I said above, it does take a while for the story to get going, but once it finds itself, it’s off to the races.


I like the fact that we have a male and female narrator paired together. I enjoyed Ron McLarty’s reading just a little bit more in ‘Zero Day’ than I did the performance of Orlagh Cassidy. It isn’t that her performance was bad by any means. It’s just that the female characters in this novel don’t have a lot of emotional depth or big scenes. This will change as the series progresses.
McLarty plays John Puller with a lot of confidence, but not to the point of cockiness. Puller trusts his abilities and instincts, and McLarty adds a level of confidence to his reading of the dialog.


There are a few instances in the book where sound effects are used (a couple of explosions and exchanges of gunfire), but they do not dominate the track and are used for maximum impact.
Otherwise, everything sounds great. The track is clean with no glitches and remains at a constant and steady volume.


While ‘Zero Day’ has some pulse pounding moments near the end, I would call it the weakest of the three installments in the John Puller series thus far.
The character of John Puller is interesting enough, and there are some nice seeds planted which bear fruit in subsequent books, but only a few of the supporting characters are really all that interesting.


Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
Zero Day: John Puller, Book 1 David Baldacci Ron McLarty, Orlagh Cassidy Hachette Audio Mystery & Thriller 11/01/2011 13 hours, 11 minutes 7.75/10


A copy of ‘ZERO DAY: JOHN PULLER, BOOK 1’ was purchased from Audible for review.