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on August 31, 2013
The author introduces Will Robie , an assassin who is the ultimate solution to problems that certain Alphabet agencies need wiped off their "to do " lists. He will appear again in another stunning novel THE HIT, but I recommend that you read this one first since the same characters are carried over into the second Will Robie book.

Those of us who loved Vince Flynn will adapt easily to David Baldacci. This was my first Baldacci and I was driven to read THE HIT for more of the same enjoyment. There are many similarities in the subject matter and writing styles of both authors. Admittedly Will Robie is not Mitch Rapp but he is just as intriguing a character. On the surface he is cool,calculating,very observant, and a complete introvert. Good traits for an assassin. He is self reliant but has made reliable contacts that he can call on to provide confidential information and specialized equipment at the appropriate moment to pull himself out of hairy predicaments.

In this case he softens his demeanor to save a 14 yr old girl recently orphaned by the same villains who seek to eliminate him.

In the midst of all this chaos Robie and the girl are helped by a female FBI agent who finds evidence involving Robie in the murder of a woman and her baby as well as the explosion of a bus full of people in which Robie and the girl escaped unharmed.

The author weaves a lot of edge of your seat moments in this "nail biter"'. It is well worth the price of admission. It's a real 5 STAR attraction that will tempt you to go on to THE HIT to continue the ride.
Rshepherd
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on April 23, 2012
I enjoyed the book and read it in a couple of days. It's the type of book that you always are wanting to know what happens next. Yes, it does have some plot twists that aren't too hard to figure out and the story is a little disjointed in the two plots going at once, but overall, it's a good read and well worth the time. I believe we'll see his main character, Assassin Will Robie in future books. It would be a crime to waste all of that character devlopment, etc. for only one book.
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on July 13, 2012
The Innocent was a surprisingly poor piece of work. I read over 200 books per year, the majority of which are in the same genre as this novel. Baldacci generally writes excellent stories, with smart & likeable characters, and compelling plots. This is NOT one of them.

I felt that Robie was a lazily created protagonist - he's absurdly inconsistent as a character, an amateur assassin who makes naive errors and completely veers off course. I'm surprised by Baldacci in delivering such a weak main character!

Julie was unrealistic and seemed to lack a single likeable attribute. Did Baldacci's agent pressure him to try and reach a new demographic with this young character? If so, very little time and effort was put into her, as Julie's essentially written as a bitter adult. The majority of her dialogue was totally uncharacteristic of any young teenager...even child prodigies, as they claimed she was (lazy). More likely, Julie was just added to hastily build up this overly complex and unnecessary plot line, which leads me to...

Spoiler alert: We're supposed to believe the President's assassination attempt was the result of decades of planning? You've got to be kidding me! But wait - when Talal, the mastermind behind this plan, is almost killed by Robie (the world's best hitman...until he botched this one, of course), he proceeds to take countless risks in order to avenge the attempt. Talal completely throws a wrench into this massive plot to kill the President, just so he can mess with Robie? FYI: this plan includes multiple scenes where the terrorists purposely do NOT kill Robie.

Boy, I could go on and on about this book (don't get be started on Vince or Annie!). I read bad books all the time; that's OK, because often they are not written by renowned authors. However, I feel it's extremely disappointing when someone like Baldacci delivers a book like this to the public.
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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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I read the end of this book last night and was scratching my head because there was such a HUGE error that I thought I must have misread the book. So I read some Amazon reviews and banged immediately right into one with the exact same reaction, which said: "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."

How could Baldacci and his editor make such a huge mistake? This is really inexcusable for a thriller as figuring out the thriller is half the fun. I was going to grade this four stars as I was enjoying the book for most of the way. But then as the author started solving things, it just fell apart on every level. I can't say don't read it because most of it is enjoyable but if you like a genre book to follow the rules of genre, you are going to be upset with this one.

Otherwise, this began as a promising thriller with a government assassin and a 14 year old girl he meets on the run. They try to solve why people are trying to kill them at every turn.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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on March 31, 2014
This book was a total disappointment. It started out as though it would be a good read and then evolved into a convoluted and unbelievable story line. I had to force myself to finish the book. This book read like a B movie. It's asking a lot to believe that a FBI agent and a CIA operative would allow a 14 year old girl to tag along and participate in an active investigation of any sort, never mind
one involving a series of assassinations and government corruption.
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on June 10, 2014
I know this is a very popular author and that is why I elected to read this book. I see I am in the minority here but I can only say that I did not enjoy this book at all. I did finish it but did so simply to get it over with. I found the character development weak. I felt the story was so contrived that any entertainment value at all was minimal. I thought the writing was pedestrian. Oh well, I guess it must be me......
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VINE VOICEon July 17, 2012
The United States has many enemies and sometimes they think they can hide behind the political curtain when planning ways to harm the United States and their citizens. Ribbie is an American assassin who is used to eliminate targets he's been given.

Somehow, the last target didn't fit in with his usual assigned kills. The woman lives near his office and when he enters her apartment, he finds her asleep, holding her child. Robbie is talking to his handler through an earphone and refuses the hit. However, the woman is killed by Robbie's handler who was monitoring Robbie's actions from an apartment across the street.

Thinking he's been set-up, he has to make an escape from his own people. Unsure of who to trust, he gets on a bus and comes into contact with a fourteen-year-old girl. Robbie doesn't pay too much attention but his instinct makes him notice a man following the girl and then making a move to kill her. Robbie intervenes and he and the girl, Julie Getty, get off the bus. Moments later, the bus is blown up and only Robbie and Julie survive.

In an action packed story, Robbie learns that Julie was trying to escape an intolerable foster care situation and that her parents had recently been murdered.

The story of Robbie's betrayal and Julie's parents' murder, come together with excellent drama. While Robbie usually works by himself, he finds that it isn't safe to leave Julie on her own so he acts outside of his normal mode of operation.

David Baldacci has written a finely crafted and provoking book about the intelligence operaion in the United States. It will leave the reader breathless. Both Robbie and Julie are excelltly drawn and fully developed characters with Julie being in the mode of the wonderful Lisbeth Sandler of Steig Larsson's novels.

Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon June 17, 2012
Will Robie was a sanctioned killer who was the best at what he did and walked away from each assignment with a clear conscious. The unidentified alphabet soup who decides the fate of everyone else pushes him into one situation he refuses to act on and sends him into hiding where fate, coincidence, or bad time connects him with Julie a kid on the run from her own enemy. It takes about 5 minutes to find that the same ghost is chasing them both from different directions with the same objective - to eliminate them.

Will has no experience protecting anyone but himself and has no working knowledge of what to do with a kid. When you are getting a crash course in survival, you do or die trying and Julie is going to force him to let her help. She is smart enough to follow directions and eager to get back to a life she can control even knowing what has blown up her past. Julie's parents tried to do their best but in the end left her alone with a man she does not trust as her only ally.

With shots fired that don't hit their target, moles turning up everywhere, and will desperately trying to figure out who is the master manipulator with all the cash behind this game of chess. The one key to stopping the violence is figuring out whom the target really is and if the revenge meter has been set to stun or kill. The pace is fast, the details exacting, and the result of all their work scary. What Will and Julie uncover cannot only change the course of their lives but everyone that walks the planet as well.

David Baldacci knows how to take the facts, write them into a work of genius that will keep the reader unable to put the book down. The twists and turns in THE INNOCENT are a masterful manipulation of fiction that comes so close to fact it if frightening.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon May 23, 2012
This is David Baldacci at his best - a page turning action thriller that will keep you guessing to the end. Baldacci is a master story tellers of thrillers that have more twists and turns than a fast paced game of snakes and ladders.

Baldacci introduces us to Will Robie, a larger than life professional killer for the US Government (I wonder why we all get turned on with novels about these hypothetical hopefully non-existent super heros). Robie normally has no problem in killing bad people such as terrorists and major criminals. He plans his work meticulously and always makes contingency plans for escape if something goes wrong.

This time Robie is worried when he is ordered to kill a divorced woman who doesn't seem to be a danger to anyone. He enters her bedroom at night and finds her sharing her bed with her young son. For the first time ever Robie finds that he cannot go through with the killing. Almost immediately a sniper in a nearby building kills both the woman and her son with a single shot. To save his life Robie flees the scene and following his contingency plan heads for a local bus station.

At the same time a 14 year old girl, Julie, escapes from an abusive foster home and enters her parents home only to hear both of her drug addicted parents being murdered. The girl escapes the murder scene and catches the same bus as Robie. When someone tries to kill Julie on the bus, Robie is there to save her life. Just as they get off the bus together there is a huge explosion, demolishing the bus and killing all of the passengers. Robie and Julie are not seriously injured and form an alliance to keep their safety.

The plot then changes into top gear with both Robie and Julie getting involved in helping the FBI to investigate the murders and bombing, and Robie's superiors who want to find out what went wrong. The action is fast and furious and keeps you on edge to the very last page.

Baldacci has built up a unenviable collection of amazing characters over the years. Now he has introduced us to Will Robie, a professional killer who finds he has a conscience. I look forward to meeting Robie in future books.
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