388 of 411 people found the following review helpful
While I'll admit that I haven't read everything that the prolific Mr. Baldacci has published in recent years, I'm pleased to say that The Innocent is the strongest novel I've seen from him in quite some time. It was a book that I didn't want to put down until I'd read it all.
The novel opens with Will Robie. We learn that he is "an inch over six feet and a rock-solid one hundred and eighty pounds", that he is one day shy of his 40th birthday, and that he is a professional killer. But this is no thug off the street; this is a man with a rich interior life, a moral center, and more than a little going on upstairs. Therefore, it's not too surprising when we soon learn that Robie is employed by an unnamed federal agency to carry out "sanctioned assassinations." In his own words:
"Sometimes he went after people intent on global menace, like Rivera or Talal, or sometimes he simply went after a problem. You could take your pick of labels, but in the end, they all meant the same thing. His employer decided who among the living and breathing would qualify as a target. And then they turned to men like Robie to end the living and breathing part. It made the world better, was the justification."
Except this time, he's being sent after a different type of target--a woman, an American, a mother. At the crucial moment, Robie refuses to fire. It doesn't smell right. Someone finishes the job with a long-range sniper shot, and it looks like they'll finish Robie as well if he doesn't run.
Elsewhere, we meet the wise-beyond-her-14-years Julie Getty. She's been in and out of the foster care system, and she's in the process of escaping her latest "caregivers." Julie has parents that she loves and who love her, but who are engaged in an ongoing battle with addiction. Returning to her parents' home illicitly, Julie is just in time to see the two of them murdered in cold blood. She is a witness, so she too is on the run.
Julie and Robie arrive at the same escape route, a late night bus from DC to NY. Each notes the other, and when things get ugly fast, it's not clear which of them was the target of the violence. Nonetheless, these two characters form an unlikely alliance as they attempt to unravel the mysteries surrounding them.
When it comes to a Baldacci novel, plot is front and center, and I thought this one was deftly handled. The pacing was excellent, and my interest in the story being told never flagged for a moment. I'll admit that I DID suspect the ultimate bad guy, but I didn't have a clue as to the whys and wherefores. The story was suspenseful and unfolded beautifully. It all made sense and held together well in the end. As a native Washingtonian, I won't say that the novel was hugely evocative, but the DC setting was handled reasonably well. Mr. Baldacci seems to have a good feel for the workings of the town. Additionally, Robie and Julie made appealing and well-fleshed protagonists. One of the things I liked best about this novel is that it is a stand alone, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if we see these characters again. The door is left open for sequels or a continuing series.
All and all, I found The Innocent to be a very successful entertainment. More like this, please, Mr. Baldacci! And I'm left pondering who among the characters really was the eponymous "innocent" of the title.
118 of 132 people found the following review helpful
As The Innocent opens, Will Robie is carrying out a mission for his Agency masters. He assassinates a man (and his four ultra-evil bodyguards) who is planning a military coup in Mexico that will create a government hostile to American interests. This is followed by the rather improbable assassination of a Saudi prince. Robie doesn't let himself be bothered by his assignments, but he finds himself with a dilemma when he's ordered to kill a nearly middle-aged woman in D.C., particularly when he discovers (after breaking into her apartment) that she's the mother of two, including the infant sleeping next to her, and a U.S. government employee to boot. The dilemma is resolved when Robie's handler shoots mother and child from a distance and attempts to take out Robie in the process.
After this dramatic opening, the story takes a strange twist when Robie, who wonders whether he has become the target of the government he once served, encounters fourteen-year-old girl named Julie whose parents have been murdered. Robie and Julie barely survive the explosion of a bus on which they had been riding. Who was the target: Robie or Julie? What, if any, is the connection between the woman Robie was sent to kill and Julie's parents? Many gun battles and explosions later, the answer to those questions remains unclear. That's what held my attention to the end of this fast-moving novel.
I wouldn't call the plot byzantine, but it is deliciously complex. To my amazement, every plot thread (even an incident or two I didn't expect to be important to the overall plot) comes together in the final chapters. The story covers a lot of ground and introduces a gaggle of supporting characters, ranging from Gulf One army buddies to traitorous FBI agents, from the retired assassin who is Robie's mentor to the White House political analyst who becomes his romantic interest. Robie can't trust anyone, including the FBI agent with whom he is partnered (another potential romantic interest for the studly Robie). None of the characters are given great depth but they seem real, and that's enough in a story that is driven by plot rather than character.
David Baldacci's prose style is punchy and efficient. Short sentences and single-sentence paragraphs during action sequences contribute to The Innocent's blistering pace. There are times, particularly in the final chapters, when Baldacci succumbs to melodrama. Since the story continues to be engaging, that is a forgivable sin.
This is a dual climax thriller. The novel seems to be moving toward a particular scene, but when that scene occurs, there are still many pages left. That scene borders on the preposterous and the unmasking of a key bad guy -- clearly intended as a shocker -- is disappointingly obvious. The second and final climax is unsurprising but satisfying.
With all the action, suspense, and mystery that Baldacci provides, The Innocent will probably appeal to a Hollywood producer, particularly since brash, snarly fourteen-year-old girls always make appealing movie characters. Thriller fans don't need to wait for Hollywood; The Innocent ran like a movie in my imagination as I was reading it. I would give The Innocent 4 1/2 stars if I could.
84 of 94 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
Will Robie has killed a lot of people. It is what he does best. He is a hired assassin, one who works for the US government. Even though his targets are supposedly very bad people, he seems an unlikely choice for a hero. His latest assignment, however, is a US government employee in Washington DC. When he breaks into her apartment and finds her asleep, her two children nearby, he finds a conscience and decides not to carry out his assignment.
In this line of business there are penalties for failure, and he immediately finds himself dodging bullets from his former employers, on the run and running out of options. He nevertheless detours to rescue a 14 year old girl who seems to be targeted by killers too. They form an unlikely (granted, the whole thing is unlikely, but one expects that in this type of novel) alliance, one that provides entertainment and an emotional foundation to the story. There are several climaxes, as different story lines resolve, and one of them was too obvious to be satisfying, but the whole novel was still quite good.
The action is fast and non-stop, the dialogue crisp and realistic, the characters thinly drawn but likeable. This is a superior action and mystery novel, by one of today's best action novelists. Baldacci gives his fans what they want here, with plenty of cliffhanger moments, with a plot that twists and turns, surprising the reader in almost every chapter. This is one of the author's better efforts, superior to Hell's Corner (my last review of his writing). I recommend this enthusiastically to Baldacci fans, and those who might just become fans.
94 of 108 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2012
Am a big fan of Baldacci and love this new character - Will Robie - an assassin with a conscience. If you are a fan of assassins, I highly recommend Barry Eisler's John Rain books. They are superb. This one began as a real page turner; I was captured from the first page and could not put this book down. Where it fell apart for me, however, was the wrap up phase. I could not imagine how the author was going to tie these seemingly unconnectable events and couldn't wait to be amazed. What happened, however, was that (without spoiling it for you) is that to me the way it was wrapped up was not believable. Go ahead and read it; maybe it was just me. I think it jumped the shark.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Warning: Spoilers below
I've liked most of Baldacci's other works, but this one was quite bad. Where to start...
-- Robie supposedly assassinates an Arab terrorist in the beginning and we find out later that Robie's agency has an "inside man" planted in the terrorist's inner circle.
-- For nearly the remainder of the book, it is assumed the terrorist was killed. Eventually, Robie and Robie's agency figures out the terrorist survived. In the end, the inside man helps arrange the capture of the terrorist. Wait... if the inside man is still there... how did Robie's agency not know the man was still alive? He obviously had contact with the agency, since the capture was arranged at the end. This is a HUGE mistake.
-- So... somehow the terrorist is able to pay off about a dozen well-paid government employees and find out Robie was the man who tried to kill him. Rather than simply kill Robie, the terrorist orchestrates a complex plot that puts him on a bus with a 14 year old girl named Julie and then has a man go after Julie, KNOWING that Robie will intervene and they both will get off the bus, and then the bus will blow up, and now Robie is linked up with the only lead that can ruin the terrorist's ultimate plan. What? The character of Julie was of no value and there was zero reasons for the bad guys to keep her alive. None. But, that's okay because...
-- Later on, the terrorists jump through more hoops to blackmail a woman into saying she saw two African-Americans get off the bus, therefore "toying around" with Robie. What?
-- Secret Service agents and officers don't carry 9mm pistols. A detail missed.
-- The bad guys send "compromising" photos of Robie sleeping with a woman who ends up being an assassin. Why are these photos compromising. She fooled everyone. They were two adults having sex. There are no grounds for blackmail here. The entire photo exercise was pointless.
-- Robie's mysterious agency, as well as the FBI, and the White House were all compromised by the terrorist. Forgetting for the moment that this is impossible, Robie sends Julie off with FBI Special Agent Vance to the Washington Field Office where she will be safe. Right. Oh, and Robie continues to trust his boss, "The Blue Man" throughout the book when he has no reason to. Awful.
-- Robie is a highly trained operative. The best the country has to offer. However, throughout the book he is continuously followed, listened to, photographed, and his every move is anticipated. Even his escape route that NOBODY knows about is compromised from the beginning.
These are just a few examples of the errors in this book. I'm all for suspending disbelief, but this book was really, really bad. I'm shocked at all of the positive reviews. I hope Baldacci ditches this series soon and brings his novels back down to Earth.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book certainly kept my interest and was fun to read, but it all falls down in the end with a compeletely unbelieveable explanation of events. I know, I know...it's a thriller, not supposed to be real life, but it was not well tied together, simplistic and far-fetched. Take 2 parts Bourne Identity, 3 parts The Professional and shake, and you have this book, but with a bad ending. I also thought Baldacci's Absolute Power was similarly lacking in cohesion.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2012
I have been a fan of DB and have found his body of work as a whole really entertaining. If you have enjoyed his other books, then you will likely enjoy The Innocent and find it worth reading. It started off well enough with an interesting scenario that hooked me right away and it was full of the action that I have come to expect. But the introduction of the 14 year old girl and how she came across was sometimes hard to believe. I thought that as the story progressed past the halfway point it sometimes felt like it bogged down slightly. Also, for me, as we got closer to running out of pages there was a distinct "lurch" from the continuing story to the final few chapters that wrapped-up the book. It was as if the deadline needed to be met. In spite of this, both the story and action were good and made up for these criticisms. All in all, I would have rated the book a 4, but had to round down due to the abrupt transition to wrapping up the details and ending the book. Still an entertaining read, and I look forward to the next one!
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
The plot of the Innocent borders on absurd, and it gets worse as the story progresses. I won't give it away out of respect to those who will read the book. Suffice it say that, in the end, I was left with the feeling, "why did I waste the time with this book." There are interesting little tales within the bigger story that keep you engrossed until the bizarre ending: the relationship between Robie (the hero assassin) with the female FBI agent, Vance; the relationship between Robie and the homeless 14-year-old, Julie; and the relationship between Robie and his boss, "Blue Man." But Julie is a horribly misdrawn character -- she comes across as 14-going-on-35, and it makes no sense. It is hard to assess the overall plot as you are reading the book, because it is so convoluted and you keep hoping that it will make sense in the end. At the end of the book, obviously understanding that his plot is patently absurd, Baldacci uses his hero/assassin, Robie, to explain all of what has happened. The explanation offered by Robie serves as a summary of the book and it confirmed for me that the plot is indeed as absurd as I suspected. Baldacci's imagination was beyond the pale in his construction of this story. Warning: in the audio edition of the book, the female reader (with her striking New York accent) is terribly distracting. Every time that Vance (the female FBI agent from Washington, DC)speaks on the recording, you are inclined to laugh, because her accent is so out of place. Likewise for the voice of 14-year-old Jule, who sometimes sounds like a big-mouthed hooker on the run with an assassin. If you have nothing better to do this summer, read the book and enjoy the little tales within the bigger story; but don't look for a plausible plot.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
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!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2013
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
The Innocent is my first foray into Mr. Baldacci's books, and quite honestly, I am not terribly impressed so far.
In support of this book, it is a fast-paced page-turner with many plot twists and surprises that kept me uncertain and guessing, and it was an entertaining read. Unfortunately, the characters and story line came across to me as contrived, forced and implausible. As others have commented, the writing-style is choppy and sophomoric, more akin to what I would expect from a high school student. There is a lot of callous and seemingly superfluous killing and death dealt out in this book, and the stunted responses from the characters reminded me of a pulpy and silly made for TV series. In the final say, The Innocent was not a terribly convincing or compelling book for me.
I am not sure that I have given up on Baldacci, but The Innocent certainly makes me a bit skeptical of the rest of his stuff.