‘The Innocent’ will keep you guessing


You aren’t certain what’s around the corner in “The Innocent” by David Baldacci and that’s what keeps you turning pages.

Will Robie kills people for a living. He works for the U.S. government, traveling the world, taking out targets that can’t be handled any other way. Just 40, Robie’s been doing this for a dozen years.

Killing these people doesn’t bother him and he’s good at this – very good.

Then he gets an assignment to take out a target in D.C. that feels wrong and he doesn’t finish the job.

Robie knows the consequences for refusing to do an assignment. He’s known for years he might have to run from his own people, so he’s prepared. 

What he’s not prepared for is crossing paths with a 14-year-old girl on the run from her own demons. He’s not sure what will get him killed first: his secrets or hers. But he does know he’s not going to walk away from either one. The question is, how can he juggle both? 

Who’s after them? Why? Are their cases connected? Who can they trust, if anyone? And can they figure it out before they’re killed?

Robie could have just walked away – he’s got enough problems of his own to deal with – but it’s interesting to see Baldacci take his stone-cold killer and have him use his deadly skills to help a young girl who doesn’t mean anything to him. 

Baldacci can write human interaction well, even in a non-conventional relationship. Robie isn’t the fatherly type and Baldacci doesn’t make him out to be because that would be the wrong way to handle the street-smart girl he’s trying to help. Robie has to be smarter than her and stay several steps ahead to be in position to help her, and Baldacci keeps him there with some of the same skills Robie uses to kill people. 

Baldacci doesn’t tell the reader much about Robie’s personal life, background, or training but that’s okay; Baldacci tells you enough to know that Robie’s got the skills to do what he does. Baldacci keeps the storyline clean without a lot of distractions so everyone can focus on the action.

You really don’t know what’s going on with Robie’s case – was it a screw-up, was his target into something they shouldn’t have been, or was Robie the target all along? And what’s going on with the girl? If anything, Baldacci gives you even less clues about her situation, but he keeps the intrigue high. 

There’s a fine balance between giving the reader information and withholding it; and knowing what’s necessary to divulge and what’s not. Baldacci strikes that balance. He lets the action and the characters tell the story and details you need. Baldacci keeps you guessing with an ever-increasingly intricate storyline right up until the end.

“The Innocent” is the first in the series about Will Robie. So far, there are a total of five with “End Game” (October 2017) being the latest.

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