“Robie’s line of work was a young man’s game. Even at forty Robie knew he couldn’t do it another dozen years. His skills would erode too much. One of his targets would be better than he was. He would die.”
The Innocent, by David Baldacci
#1 in the Will Robie series
Grand Central Publishing, April 2012
422 pages (hardcover)
America has enemies – ruthless people that the police, the FBI, even the military can’t stop. That’s when the U.S. government calls on Will Robie, a stone cold hitman who never questions orders and always nails his target.
But Will Robie may have just made the first – and last – mistake of his career…
It begins with a hit gone wrong. Robie is dispatched to eliminate a target unusually close to home in Washington, D.C. But something about this mission doesn’t seem right to Robie, and he does the unthinkable. He refuses to kill. Now, Robie becomes a target himself and must escape from his own people.
Fleeing the scene, Robie crosses paths with a wayward teenage girl, a fourteen-year-old runaway from a foster home. But she isn’t an ordinary runaway – her parents were murdered, and her own life is in danger. Against all of his professional habits, Robie rescues her and finds he can’t walk away. He needs to help her.
Even worse, the more Robie learns about the girl, the more he’s convinced she is at the center of a vast cover-up, one that may explain her parents’ deaths and stretch to unimaginable levels of power.
Now, Robie may have to step out of the shadows in order to save this girl’s life… and perhaps his own.
David Baldacci can be hit or miss for me. I know I’ve mentioned this before. He’s extremely prolific, and his books can be formulaic… but sometimes they have that spark that makes them stand out, and The Innocent is one of these.
The characters fill their appropriate roles in the story – Robie is the lone hitman surprised to discover he still has a heart, Julie is the spunky kid-from-the-streets who’s wise beyond her years – but they’re interesting enough to keep from feeling too clichéd. Julie was especially fun to read about… although it takes away some of the enjoyment to know that there really are kids who’ve grown up as she has.
The story is strong too. Everything comes together in a way that works. Sure, you have to suspend your disbelief; there are some crazy coincidences, and things will feel contrived if you think too much about it… that’s the case in most thrillers, to an extent. But it works. At the very least, it worked for me.
It was hard to put this one down. In terms of pure entertainment, The Innocent is among Baldacci’s best.
Does The Innocent sound like something you’d pick up? When it comes to far-fetched conspiracies, how much is too much for you?