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on April 20, 2012
Baldacci's latest book grabs you at the beginning - Will Robie is a government assassin. He does his job efficiently and lives his solitary life. His targets are as diverse as a Mexican drug lord and a Saudi prince.

But Robie is tasked to a target close to home - a mother with two young sons. When he finds he can't pull the trigger his world unravels. As he runs he comes across a fourteen year old girl that is in imminent danger. He goes on the run with the girl, clueless as to who is chasing her, knowing those chasing him are lethal.

The book bogs down through the middle and the end wraps up a little too conveniently. More than a few too many implausible situations and you would have to be a novice mystery reader to miss the villian.

Just okay.
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on December 17, 2013
This is my first David Baldacci book. And, if the quality of this book is any indication of his other efforts, it will likely be my last.

Will Robie is supposed to be a stone-cold hitman the US government calls upon to do its dirty work. South American drug lords...Saudi princes...Robie has never had an issue with gunning down those who were deemed a threat to the US national security, until he's staring down his barrel at Rachel Wind, a divorced mother of two who can't be more different from the usual scumbags he is often called upon to kill. And when he hesitated a second too long and failed to put a bullet in Rachel Wind's head like he was ordered to, he was catapulted into a mystery and conspiracy that reaches into the highest levels of the government.

I had trouble getting into the book from the beginning, primarily due to the bad writing. During the first two chapters, the action sequences are so ineptly handled that I often had to re-read a paragraph several times to figure out what was going on. Even as the story got under way and the action scenes become more decipherable, the choppy and lackluster writing still failed to imbue them with any kind of suspense. Often, the only way the author seems to know how to build suspense and a sense of danger is to have the characters talk in a loud voice; so you end up with a lot of "Robie exclaimed" or "Julie cried" or "Vance shouted". The book is also peppered with inane exchange of the "state the obvious" variety, so you get plenty of gems like this that makes you feel like your eyes are about to be permanently lodged in the back of your head:

[Robie said that he's going somewhere]
"How long will you be gone?" asked Julie anxiously.
"Only as long as I have to," he replied.

Or,

[Robie breaks down someone's door and that someone threatens to call his lawyer]
"You didn't open the door, Mr. Cassidy," pointed out Vance.
"I didn't know if you really were the Feds."
"Your employee told you that we were FBI."

Oh, well, that settles it then. Because if two ominous people comes banging loudly on the door of any ordinary citizen, the said ordinary citizen would of course trip over themselves to open the door immediately without asking for proper credentials.

Other than the extremely lazy writing, the plot is also convoluted and far-fetched beyond belief. The race-against-the-clock climax is chock full of inaccuracies (I don't want to say more as it would give the away the major conspiracy upon which the central plot is built), and the 2nd climax is so over-the-top and yet predictable that by the time the hail of bullets have stopped, I was left distinctly with a disappointed feeling that not one single bullet managed to find its way to the back of Robie's head.

Needless to say, I won't be standing in line to purchase the next Will Robie book.
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on May 16, 2013
As an avid reader, I had a really hard time getting into "The Innocent." Usually, with Baldacci's books, I have a hard time putting the books down long enough to come back to the real world; that wasn't the case here, unfortunately. For a long time, David Baldacci has been one of my favorite authors. "Absolute Power," "Last Man Standing," "The Winner," and "Wish You Well" are still a few of my favorite books. His well-constructed stories and characters have always mesmerized me, and each time I re-read them, I find a new facet to admire.

"The Innocent," however, was a bit of a disappointment. The story was somewhat predictable, the characters were pretty flat, and there was just... nothing to really draw me in. There were no real stunning revelations, which just made the adventure something of a drag. Even the links between events were something of a stretch to believe with any plausibility. Overall, I'm just disappointed by one of my favorite authors seeming to just phone it in.

Part of the problem came from the choppy sentences; the fluidity I've come to expect from Baldacci was gone. Instead, Baldacci seemed to have given up. He just wrote very short sentences. And some were just fragments. Not real sentences. It made it very difficult to get into the story. Because it felt disruptive. See what I did there? I might have understood if this had been a stylistic choice, but there are points in the story later where sentences are almost normal, so the inconsistency bothered me.

Bottom line: if you're looking for an adventure with a heartwarming ending and many layers of depth (like earlier Baldacci), you'll finish this disappointed. On the other hand, if you want an adventure with thrills and not much thinking or twisting, then this may be for you.
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on April 24, 2012
It's been awhile since I have written a review-no book has stood out for me to take the time. This is the best book I have read for awhile. I know there will be negative reviews and we all have different tastes for sure but this one grabbed me from the first page to the last. Normally in a book of this length I tend to skim some but didn't feel the need in this one. Mr. Baldacci gives enough background without overdoing descriptions which I find boring if they are too lengthy. I won't go into the synopsis but just to comment why I liked the book. The main characters were all strong characters and you liked them. I did figure out early on who was behind the plot but until nearly the end still didn't know how far reaching the plot was. I think Mr. Baldacci tied the ending up well and as the main characters met for the last time gave us the why and how everything went down. When I come to the end of the book and feel like things have not been explained I'm somewhat disappointed. If it's a series I understand that but not a stand alone. Will the author bring back Robie? It's ok if he does or does not as this was a great stand alone book. I read the library copy as I have so many good author's I enjoy, I couldn't possibly afford to buy them all. However, I think I will have to have this on my library shelf.

I am always in awe of anyone who can put a book together and as i read this one I kept thinking what a gift to be able to put as many details together and have them work. Is some of it far fetched-maybe-maybe not but it's fiction and you can take liberties with fiction-that's what makes it so interesting.

Hope you read the book and enjoy it as much as I did!
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on January 7, 2013
Granted, as a former Green Beret, my standards of verisimilitude might be a tad higher than the average reader's, but is it really too much to expect the writer of a book about a hit man to know the difference between a bullet and a casing? In one sequence, he has the protagonist explaining that he usually "polices his brass", but that he can't after this hit, because he's using dum-dums, so the bullet will stay inside the victim! Granted, authors of thrillers often know little about weapons. They are constantly confusing pistols with revolvers, or making silly mistakes like putting sound supressors (AKA "silencers") on revolvers, but give a break: not even knowing how a bullet is constructed? The action sequences are just as unrealistic: most of them are downright clownish. You'd think he'd get someone with a modicum of police or military experience to read the manuscript and point out the most obvious gaffes. I've never been impressed with his writing in the past, but I liked the premise so I got this from the library. Good thing, too: I'd hate to pay money for this kind of lazy, unprofessional hack writing.
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on July 8, 2012
It has been a while since I've read a Baldacci, a Grisham or a Cornwell that I love, but David Baldacci's "The Innocent" I really love. This one sucked me into the very center of the story from the first page. It seemed that every page held a new twist or turn, and how the complicated means by which the scattered pieces of the crimes to be solved would be brought together seemed almost impossible. But brought together they were in an ending that turned out not as I expected.

Will Robie is an assassin employed by the U.S. Government. His assignments have taken him all over the world to kill in order to protect people, but Robie has a conscience. When he is given an assignment to kill a government employee, he quietly breaks into the apartment and gets ready to shoot, but sees something that makes him stop and he doesn't make the kill. It doesn't go over well with a lot of people who are his superiors. However, when Robie fails to shoot, a sniper in the next building over does, and kills the target and has Robie in his sight, too. He manages to escape the shooter and gets on a rickety bus to New York. On the bus he meets a bright, but tough, 14-year-old girl named Julie. From this point on, the novel explodes into a complicated plot of twists and turns and was very hard to put down.

Julie has been in one foster care home after another because of drug use by her parents, but she always manages to make her way to her real home again. The foster home she is in when the story begins is far worse than anything she would experience in her own house. When Julie returns to her parents' place this last time, she witnesses their murders and manages to escape with her life. She heads for the same bus that Will Robie is on, but with Robie sitting behind her. With a suspicious-looking man sitting between him and Julie, Robie knows that something isn't right. Julie trusts no one and so far has done a good job of keeping herself alive after her parents' murders. Robie wants to see that she stays that way. As the story advances, FBI Agent Nicole Vance is assigned to help Robie find who is hunting down Robie and Julie and why. There are several factors that Robie and Vance have to somehow piece together in order to find who the guilty parties are who are after them. But finding out who the real target is up to Robie. He just isn't sure if it's Julie or himself.

The characters of Will Robie, Julie, and Nicole Vance are characters I really cared about and would love to see again. By the end of the book, I thought that I knew them pretty well. It would be a very nice thing to see Robie, Vance and Julie in another book in order to see how these characters' lives continue. Will Robie might be an assassin who kills only people who want to hurt his country and its people, but he's an assassin with a heart who I can't help but like.

Highly recommended.
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on July 15, 2012
These days, it seems it's becoming more and more difficult to find a book that truly takes you by surprise. One which takes your expectations and then proceeds to completely blow them out of the water. I'll be completely frank; I absolutely loved The Innocent. David Baldacci set out to create an edge of your seat thriller and completely succeeded in every key area.

The story follows Will Robie, an American covert assassin who knows how to get the job done. His life takes a surprising turn for the worse when his next target is actually an innocent victim. Upon refusing, he's targeted by people within his own organization and soon meets up with a fourteen year old girl, Julie, who's on the run for her own reasons. Their fates soon become intertwined as they find themselves in the middle of a grand conspiracy buried deep into the very heart of the American government.

I've never heard of David Baldacci until now but his reputation clearly precedes him, the man knows how to make a great thriller. The book has a terrific plot; it's so exquisitely devised in such a manner that you can't help but marvel at the ingenuity that went into its creation. As the story begins to hit its stride early on, the reader soon finds themself consumed in a maelstrom of lies and deception. Seemingly no one can be trusted, and each frequent twist or clue adds even more depth to the overarching narrative. Eventually, everything that you believe is concrete, Baldacci takes and completely shatters into something else. These various revelations and surprises interwoven into the plot will keep you guessing to the very end and clamoring for just one more chapter. It's a story that's easy to comprehend yet so satisfyingly complex in its execution. It's also worth mentioning that Baldacci uses the tried and true `short chapter' format for his prose in order to keep the pace at an all-time high. This writing technique is a rather risky double-edged sword. It can either create the sensation of speed, adding weight to the intensity of the storytelling, thus creating urgency. Or it can fall right on its face and seem like a cheap gimmick used to create the facade of a fast-paced book. Fortunately, The Innocent falls into the former than the latter. With this dichotomy of adrenaline-filled pacing and a brilliantly satisfying plot, Baldacci is able to create the most important element of a proper thriller: suspense. The sense of discovering what's to come, who's behind it, and their real ultimatum is so intoxicatingly entertaining that it's easy to lose yourself among the pages.

Even with such an engrossing premise and pacing, a book cannot possibly be entertaining if the characters aren't interesting, nor if the reader isn't given a reason to care about their predicament. Again, Baldacci nails it, the characters he's illustrated are not only interesting; they're probably the best I've ever seen from a techno-thriller. As much as I love characters that feature a James Bond esque persona, it's definitely a nice change of pace to find one that's written in a strikingly believable manner. As I said, Will Robie is at his core, a professional killer that works for the United States government. His profession has left his life without a sense of passion or hope, an almost complete disconnect from the world and the people that live in it. His stoic personality may be seen as a shortcoming too some people, but I found him too be sympathetic and surprisingly realistic. In reality, a killer isn't going to have a roguish charm that appeals to people, but rather an anti-social personality with a cold demeanor on reality and death that pushes others away.

The other main character, Julie, is a gifted child with the burden of having to grow up too fast. While she requires the aid of Robie in order to survive her assailants, she never feels like an annoying addition too the book. She's street-smart and intelligent enough that she actually contributes to the plot rather than feeling like a burden. Here presence also adds a much needed dose of humor to what is an otherwise very stoic genre of military caricatures and stereotypes. Yet it's the relationship between these two characters that really showcases Baldacci's knack for strong characterization. With his skillset, Robie acts as the guardian for Julie, while she brings out the humanism locked within him, giving him the honorable task of protecting someone other than himself. It's very endearing, and it's punctuated even more by very amusing dialogue between the two. The book also doesn't rely on an oversized cast of personas to fill its ranks, but rather focuses on a small cast of characters with each one leaving a strong impression.

When comparing this book to other techno-thrillers and why I believe it's vastly superior to the majority of the market, I'd describe the approach the author took as "streamlined." David Baldacci doesn't fall into the pit trap that I've seen from my personal experience of reading techno-thrillers. He's not using this novel as an excuse to show off his vast knowledge of military equipment and tactics, or our country's political structure. He just wanted to create an exciting novel set in modern-day America with a light dose of politics to create the backdrop. Will Robie works for the government and kills bad guys, that's all you need to comprehend. It's simplistic, it's easy to get into, and it works. The rest is common knowledge that any U.S. citizen would easily understand.

I hate to describe something as "perfect", but I literally cannot find a single flaw with The Innocent. It's a masterfully plotted thriller with excellent characterization, a well-conceived plot, and the suspense is literally non-stop. It's so fast and exciting that you'll be hard pressed to find a more entertaining book anywhere. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the rest of David Baldacci's work.
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on April 20, 2012
This is an exciting mystery thriller, that is loaded with suspense, which keeps building from beginning to end. Mr. Baldacci has cleverly constructed a fast paced story with twists and turns, and a double barrel ending that suprised me, especially the second barrel...and he ties up all the lose ends nicely in the last few pages, so I wasn't left scratching my head.

We meet Will Robie on his 40th birthday, a sanctioned assassin for an unknown gov't agency, as he establishes his bona fides for us in the opening chapters. One of his assigments goes wrong, and he winds up being the hunted, while running into a young street wise 'woman' in a fourteen year olds body, who is also being hunted...and the mystery begins, and so does the body count.

The book is hard to put down because of the building suspense, and just when you think a clue or hint is about to emerge, the author quickly pulls it away with a reasonable explanation, leaving you wanting more. I'm not a big mystery reader, so I didn't spend time trying to figure out the 'who', and just enjoyed the continous ride toward the 'why'. As such, I'm happy I only scanned the book report reviews, and discovered the story line for myself.

I'm sure we will be reading more about "Robie", as he protects us, the innocent, from those who would harm America...he's good enough to be real! I found nothing objectionable about the book/story. A well deserved 5 star effort by the author, especially after his previous outing "Zero Day"...nice quick comeback Mr. Baldacci.
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VINE VOICEon August 28, 2012
I'm not a big fan of novels about spies, secret operatives or hit men, but David Baldacci is one author who hasn't disappointed me so I decided to give his most recent book, The Innocent, a try in audio book format. The book was read by Ron McLarty and Orlagh Cassidy -- both did a great job.

In this story Will Robie, is a hit man for the US government. His targets typically are terrorists who are planning to harm or threaten the safety and security of others. He is very good at what he does, but there is something about a particular assignment he's given that doesn't sit right with him. He refuses to do what is expected, making him the hunted by those he works for.

While Robie is on the run he meets a fourteen-year old girl named Julie Getty who is also running for her life Julie's parents have been murdered and she may now be a target herself. Against his better judgment, Robie can't run away from her, but he has no idea what he is getting into.

This story is fast paced and takes the reader on a wild ride. Numerous twists and turns had me paying extra close attention to what was going on. I found myself having to listen to a bit more and a bit more, finishing the audiobook much sooner than I expected to. There are some heart-pumping moments, and several sub-plots as well. It's one of the books where you can almost imagine yourself watching the action. The sound effects used in the audiobook intensified this effect, and readers who read this one will be anxious to see how the story lines all tie in.
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on May 17, 2013
I've tried, but after 7 chapters, I give up. The book reads like it was written by a 10th grader in an English composition class - and not a good student either! If you like LOTS of short sentences that begin with "He", you're going to love this book. Now we have another John Puller-type character; he just works for another (nameless) government agency and he travels all over the world killing people. I didn't think it was possible to write a more preposterous book than "Zero Day", but after 7 chapters, I'm convinced that Baldacci has done it. Well I'm not going to waste any more time with this dud and I'm not going to waste any more money on Baldacci books either.
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