David Baldacci: Books can be some of your best friends in unsettling times

During the lockdown, I’ve been writing even more than usual. I’m currently writing two books simultaneously, something I’ve never done before with two adult mysteries. I spend one week in 2020 writing the next Atlee Pine thriller and then I jump in my time machine and whisk myself back to 1949 to write the sequel to One Good Deed. And, yes, it’s as cool as it sounds.

On other fronts, I have rowed my NordicTrack rower around the world and back, it seems. I now know the Thames like the back of my hand! And I have rowed up and down rivers in Africa, which has been great for my endurance and also allowed me to see some truly stunning vistas, though not as beautiful as they would be in person. I have also put three million miles on my bike. I have worked out like a fiend because it gives you some semblance of control over your life in uncertain times like these. And I do some of my best plotting when exercising because your mind just flows. One pull-up could equal three plot points.

I have been reading a lot of books because books can be some of your best friends in unsettling times. Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. I don’t know why centuries-old family and domestic travails interest me in the middle of a pandemic but they do. Next up, Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming, because I just want to see good kick the crap out of evil since I’m definitely not getting that in the news. American Sherlock by Kate Winkler Dawson. I’m just wild about Sherlock Holmes; I’ve read every story hundreds of times. Edward Heinrich was one of America’s first forensic scientists and solved thousands of cases using reason, logic and forensic evidence. I live and breathe that stuff in my books, so I ate it up. Furious Hours by Casey Cep. This tells the story of a murder case that Harper Lee of To Kill A Mockingbird fame was going to write as her follow-up work to that classic. Only she never did. But the murder mystery and Lee’s involvement in it make for fascinating reading. Lastly, Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham. Because why not read about a nuclear disaster of mind-boggling proportions in the middle of a pandemic? It is an engrossing read and a playbook for how not to handle such a crisis, which means the powers-that-be today should devour it. Which should, in turn, cause many of them to change how they’re handling the current crisis.

But enough of my venting. I am now off to row across the Atlantic. Maybe I’ll make it over to see you. But even if I don’t, keep reading, stay safe and we’ll all make it to the other side of this.