Book review: Baldacci's 'The Hit' will be one with taut action, a dilemma and lots of surprises

Published: Saturday, April 20 2013 3:00 p.m. MDT

"THE HIT," by David Baldacci, Grand Central Publishing, $27.99, 400 pages (f)

Jessica Reel and Will Robie have a lot of things in common, including mental flexibility and superlative aim. They are killers, on the payroll of the government, tasked with eliminating the most serious threats to America — those who would attack the country outright or harm innocents.

Assassination is a field in which Robie has not had peers, but Reel's been developing her own toolbox of skills, and she's giving him a literal challenge. Where they once worked side by side, sometimes in tandem, she has apparently gone rogue. She's no longer working for the government, but is taking out others who work for their agency. After Reel botches an assignment, choosing instead to follow her own hidden agenda, Robie sets out to track her down, his orders to kill or capture her. He needs to find her and stop her immediately — while keeping her from stopping him.

Like every David Baldacci story, this one is taut, action-packed and exciting. It's also replete with the unexpected moments that are a Baldacci staple. Just when the reader thinks they're going to veer one way, Robie or Reel do something completely unforeseen.

If Baldacci has a weakness as an author, it's a flaw in character development. There's no psychoanalysis here, no deep soul searching on either side of good or evil. Action overwhelms motivation, and there aren't a lot of nuances.

That's OK. "The Hit" promises readers a fast-paced adventure, and it delivers and is genuinely hard to put down. That's exactly what millions of loyal readers want from a Baldacci. He's currently published in more than 45 languages and in 80 countries, with more than 110 million copies in print and 3 million ebooks. For character analysis and a slice of life, readers look elsewhere.

As violent as the actions of a hired assassin are, they're not gratuitous, nor is our protagonist, Will Robie, an evil man. Baldacci doesn't describe gore; he details events, not human wreckage.

I pictured this book in a 10-word review: Page-turning, pulse-racing action, with surprises and thrills galore. Or as a one-word review: Mesmerizing.

EMAIL: lois@desnews.com, Twitter: Loisco

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