Posted in All Book Reviews, Crime fiction, Thrillers

Book Review: The Guilty (By David Baldacci)

I’ve been reading a lot of David Baldacci lately. Part of the reason for that is that he’s another of my “comfort” reads authors. His books are generally engaging with interesting plots. The second reason is that I’m midway on multiple series, including the Will Robie and Jessica Reel, Amos Decker, John Puller, and Atlee Pine series. And I want to wrap them up before moving on to his newer ones. Right now, though, I’m focused on the Will Robie series, mainly because Robie makes an appearance in the next Amos Decker book and I just have to finish the Robie series and get to the Decker one in order. Make of that obsession what you will.

Anyway… let’s get right into the book review of The Guilty.

Genre: 

Thriller, Crime fiction

Length: 

420 pages

Blurb:

When elite government assassin, Will Robie, finds himself unable to pull the trigger on a mission, he finds himself adrift. His entire life has been about the job, and without his skills… he’s almost nothing. To recover his skill, he needs to resolve what’s holding him back – his past. He needs to return to Cantrell, Mississippi, the town he had left behind without another look twenty years ago. He needs to return to his father, because of whom he’d left town in the first place. Dan Robie had been elected town judge in the years since Robie left. But now, he was arrested and charged with murder. With the entire town sure of his guilt, Dan Robie offers no defense. Will’s return to the town is met with suspicion, by strangers and his own father. Yet Will perseveres. Supported by Jessica Reel, he begins his own investigation and soon discovers that Cantrell has a lot to hide. Can Will Robie prove his father’s innocence? Or is Dan Robie truly guilty? And will either live long enough to repair their bond?

Overall Rating:

7 out of 10

Plot:

8 out of 10

Characterization:

8 out of 10

Primary Element:

6 out of 10 for its suspense

Writing Style:

6 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes. This is Book #4 in the Will Robie series. Jessica Reel makes her first appearance in Book #2.

Highlighted Takeaway:

With an unexpected look into the past that makes Will Robie who he is, The Guilty brings a personal perspective into an otherwise inscrutable character.

What I Liked:

The Guilty has an interesting plot that mixes past and present really well. It also brings the multiple layers you expect from a Baldacci book, with the arcs tying together neatly. While it’s not the most unpredictable, the story does pack its share of surprises.

What I Didn’t Like:

This was something I never thought I’d say about David Baldacci, but it really seemed like this was ghostwritten by someone else, with his name just added in at the end. The style was obviously different at the outset. While it still is a good read, it’s just not what you would expect. Whether it’s Baldacci trying something different or a mismatched ghostwriting attempt, it definitely affects the reading experience.

Who Should Read It:

If you’ve come this far in the Will Robie series, give The Guilty a shot. It’s a good addition to the story. Anyone who enjoys crime fiction and mysteries will also like The Guilty – at its core, it is a murder mystery.

Who Should Avoid:

If the recent David Baldacci books haven’t been meeting your expectations, I suspect this one too would do the same. Best to avoid if you’re not a fan of Baldacci, the Robie series, or mysteries in general.

Read It For:

The continuation of Will Robie and Jessica Reel’s story. (Really, at this point, it looks like the series is moving to a conclusion on their characters and storylines, after the event in Book #1, which was the catalyst for the change in the status quo.)

Although The Guilty wasn’t as great as I’d hoped, I’m still going to see the series through. And then move on to completing the Amos Decker series (which I hope to God is maintaining its quality). Share your thoughts on all these series and Baldacci, or any of your favorite books, in the comments below.

And as always, thanks for stopping at The Book Review Station and reading this review!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Thrillers

Book Review: The Target (By David Baldacci)

Happy New Year!

I am incredibly late to the wishes as well as to posting book reviews. In all honesty, I have been occupied with reading and trying to get back into the groove of working on my ongoing novel.

But! Here we are – and although we’re more than a month into 2022, I’m starting this year’s reviews off with the book that took up most of December 2021 for me.

Will Robie and Jessica Reel return in The Target. After the introduction of Jessica Reel in The Hit, and the related growth of Robie’s character, the series became one that I definitely wanted to follow.

Unfortunately, The Target didn’t keep the momentum going as expected. It had some stuff really going for it, but other stuff that seemed just… blah. So is it worth reading, whether to just continue the series or otherwise? Read on to know.

Genre: 

Political Thriller

Length: 

420 pages

Blurb:

Jessica Reel and Will Robie aren’t in the best position with the Head of the CIA after recent events. Yet, when a mission of utmost importance arises – one that is against every rule in the book – Reel and Robie’s skills make them the go-to team. First, though, they need to pass rigorous training so that the CIA can trust them again. Even as they face grueling routines, plainly designed to break them, people from Reel’s past return, thirsty for revenge. Will Reel and Robie make it through their ordeal? What mission lies ahead for them if they do? Or will none of that matter as Reel’s past and her and Robie’s present clash?

Overall Rating:

4 out of 10

Plot:

4 out of 10 (some plot lines were more around 1 out of 10, while others were around 8, so I’m including a sort-of average)

Characterization:

7 out of 10, especially for the character growth

Primary Element:

4 out of 10 for its thrill, because the story tended to be a hotch-potch rather than a well-woven tale of different arcs.

Writing Style:

6 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes, this is Book 3 in the Will Robie series. Check out the details and reviews of Book #1, The Innocent, here and Book #2, The Hit, here.

Highlighted Takeaway:

Although most of the arcs are easy to forget, The Target brings forth Reel’s very interesting past, making it that much easier to root for her.

What I Liked:

The development of Jessica Reel’s story and its tie-in to the present, as well as the growth of the other characters.

What I Didn’t Like:

Other than Reel’s story, the book is just okay. The multiple plot lines are, surprisingly for a Baldacci book, extremely disjointed. While the end result is satisfying enough, it’s a bumpy road to get there.

Who Should Read It:

If you enjoy the Will Robie series, you should read The Target. While it may not be the best in the series, it is instrumental in following the development of the characters.

Who Should Avoid:

If you’re looking to start a new David Baldacci series, the Will Robie one (including The Target) may be best avoided.

Read It For:

A bridge between the rest of the Will Robie books, and the history of Jessica Reel.

I was genuinely disappointed at how The Target did not hold its own before its prequels. While Will Robie isn’t my favorite Baldacci character, I had grown to like his series, especially the addition of Jessica Reel. The weak storyline as well as lack of interconnectedness made it little more than an average read. I’ll still continue with the series, of course, but I can only hope that the next one is better.

And, most importantly, I’m so very, very glad that this wasn’t the book on which I ended 2021. This ended up being the second-to-last one of the year, with Tim Weaver’s I Am Missing being the last. Book review of that thriller will be up very soon!

As always, thanks for stopping by The Book Review Station and reading my review!

Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews, Thrillers

Book Review: The Hit (By David Baldacci)

The Hit brings assassin Will Robie back. The first book in the series – The Innocent was good (although not great) and Robie stood out as a character with a lot of potential. And in Book #2 of the series, you can see that potential being realized!

Genre: 

Thriller (although, I would label the Will Robie series political thrillers)

Length: 

392 pages

Blurb:

Will Robie works for a small, elite unit of the US Government. He has only one duty – to kill enemies of the state before they can unleash hell on thousands of innocent victims. And he’s the best at the job. The only one who can match him in skill and talent is Jessica Reel. A fellow assassin, she has almost as many kills as Robie and is just as reputed for her ability and her loyalty. But now, Reel has turned on the agency. She’s hunting their own. And Robie is ordered to bring her back – alive or dead. Robie can think like Reel, which makes him the agency’s best chance at capturing her. But as Robie pursues Reel, he discovers two things – one, he is always one step behind and Reel can predict him just as well as he can predict her, and two, something about her being a traitor doesn’t fit right. Soon, Robie discovers that there’s much more than what meets the eye, in Reel and in his assignment. And he needs to find the answers that remain elusive if he is to thwart a threat targeted not only at the United States, but at the world at large.

Overall Rating:

8 out of 10

Plot:

9 out of 10

Characterization:

7 out of 10, mainly because I felt the strong characterization drop a bit as the story progresses

Primary Element:

8 out of 10 for its thrill

Writing Style:

9 out of 10

Part of a Series: 

Yes, this is Book #2 in the Will Robie series. It has characters from the previous book, and is best read in order if you don’t want spoilers.

Highlighted Takeaway:

A twisted tale of patriotism, family, and duty, The Hit is equal parts action and political gambit.

What I Liked:

Will Robie’s character is really fleshed out in The Hit. His humanity, sense of duty, and even patriotism is questioned, as are his skills – and each challenge gives the reader a chance to see more of what he’s made of, even as he discovers it himself. Reel’s character is also just as good, and the two keep the reader very invested. The detail in some of the action scenes was incredible, painting an extremely vivid picture. The story itself was good too – not over the top as some political thrillers can be – and maintains the mystery and suspense till the end.

What I Didn’t Like:

I loved Jessica Reel’s introduction, and for the first half of the book, she gave Robie a real fight. But, at one point, it seemed like her awesomeness was… conveniently downplayed. I really wanted to see her hold her own more than she did.

Who Should Read It:

Anyone who enjoys thrillers based around political aspirations, or books that are based around spies and international assassinations.

Who Should Avoid:

If high-stakes political threats are not your cup of tea, I would recommend avoiding this one. For lovers of more crime-related thrillers, I would recommend other books by Baldacci, such as Memory Man featuring Amos Decker (one of my favorite literary characters) or even the Atlee Pine or John Puller series. Although the latter two do start with some political/government angles in their first books, they eventually evolve into crime-thriller series.

Read It For:

The interesting results of two trained assassins tossed out of their depth, discovering themselves, as they strive to do what they believe is right.

I hadn’t expected the second book to be that much better than the first, and so I was pleasantly surprised with how well it turned out. The Hit started a little slow, but really picked up. If you liked Baldacci’s Camel Club series, you will definitely like the Will Robie series!

Got anything to add? Share your thoughts in the comments below. And as always, thanks for stopping by and reading my review!

– Rishika

Posted in All Book Reviews

Review: The Innocent (By David Baldacci)

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Source: Goodreads

Length: 422 pages

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Government assassin, Will Robie, returns from two successful assignments in Tangier and Edinburgh to find that his next target is right in his home city – a government employee who needs to be eliminated for an unknown reason. But on the day, faced by the young woman he’s meant to kill and the child that’s holding on to her, Robie, for the first time in his life, hesitates. Before he realizes his mistake, a secondary shooter kills both mother and child. Robie manages to escape in spite of his handler leading him to the second shooter, and imminent death. Putting his personal escape plan into action, he heads to the bus station to get on the next bus to New York with a ticket booked earlier under an alias.

Fourteen-year-old Julie Getty has been forced into the foster care system due to a recurring drug problem faced by parents who have made numerous attempts to turn clean. When she receives a note from her mother stating that they want to make a new start as a family, Julie runs away from her foster home. Returning to her own house, she sees her parents being murdered by a lone killer. She manages to escape and heads to the bus station, coincidentally getting on the same bus as Robie in an attempt to leave town.

But the killer follows her on board. Robie stops him before he finishes his mission. Moments later, Robie and Julie get off the bus. And the bus is blown to smithereens. Unsure of who between them the target was, Robie feels compelled to protect Julie. But his plans to help Julie and save himself are brought to an abrupt halt when he’s called back in by his department to liaise with the FBI on the assassination-gone-wrong, and discover who had set him up. Now, Robie is working with FBI Special Agent Nicole Vance on a crime at which he’d been present. He knows that, somehow, everything is connected. Only by discovering how can Robie prove his innocence and save lives… including Vance’s, Julie’s, and his own. But, to do that, Robie needs to identify who he can really trust. Struggling to get to the truth in a web lies, Robie is running out of time. He needs to get to the bottom of things before Vance uncovers his real profession and the role he really played in the events of the night, and before more people around him are killed.

The Bottom Line:

A typical Baldacci political-crime-conspiracy-thriller that takes an oddly analytic look at assassinations and murder, and that introduces a hero with lots of potential.

My take:

The Innocent is a typical Baldacci book – it’s got the political angle, it’s got a hero who has a unique moral compass, and it’s got the crime thriller angle that keeps the pages turning. The story is complicated enough to be interesting and stops just short of becoming down-right confusing.

As expected from Baldacci’s work, the most intriguing aspect of The Innocent is the new hero it introduces. Will Robie is intrinsically a good guy with exceptional skills, and he’s an assassin for his government. He is a man trained to kill, he’s good at it, and he feels no remorse about his profession. The book often touches upon the concept of good vs. evil, and the reality that humans (even those like Robie) are essentially not one or the other. As a character, he is definitely interesting and, although I didn’t find the book as good as others by Baldacci, I definitely want to follow Robie’s development.

One thing that really stands out is the bluntness of the violence. It isn’t gory nor exaggerated in any way. It is oddly calculated. When Robie eliminates a target or sees someone dead, he perceives and analyses it with the strangest simplicity, practicality, and mundaneness. He does not think of life as cheap, as is made very evident. But the coldness with which he looks at death definitely adds a lot to his characterization.

The only downside, if I had to choose, is that the story was good, but could have been much better. It has a lot of build-up but ends up being slightly anticlimactic – not in delivery, but in the story itself. Maybe a couple of pages more about how the many different angles came together, and why, would have made the story more compelling, and consequently more fulfilling.

Should you read The Innocent? It doesn’t have to be the first David Baldacci you pick up, but it’s definitely one that should be on the list, even if it makes an appearance slightly later. Recommended to:

  • fans of David Baldacci
  • political-conspiracy-crim-fiction lovers looking for a new series
  • anyone who wants to read a fast-paced, slightly-complicated crime fiction

Read The Innocent or any other Baldacci books? Share your thoughts on Will Robie or whoever your favorite Baldacci character is in the comments below!

– Rishika