A Reader’s Opinion of The Innocent by David Baldacci April 26, 2012Posted by #4 in Everything but the kitchen sink, I read books.
Tags: Absolute Power, Arts, Baldacci, Clint Eastwood, David Baldacci, fiction, Innocent, novel, The Innocent by David Baldacci
I am getting close to reading all of David Baldacci’s entire catalog of novels. Compared to other writers he doesn’t have as many titles in his portfolio, but he’s getting there. The first book I read of his was Zero Day. You can read my review of it here. It was so good I went down to our local second hand book store and bought up copies of all the other Baldacci titles they had and I’ve been reading ever since. I especially like the detective team of Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, both former secret service agents; these stories I can’t get enough of, but all of Mr. Baldacci’s series are great. I am just now starting to read his very first novel Absolute Power which Clint Eastwood made into a pretty good movie. After that I will move onto other novels while awaiting the next Baldacci installment.
The Innocent is classic spy thriller type stuff with cutting edge military and government tactics on full display. The hero, Will Robie (I pronounce it Robby – but Mr. Baldacci probably intended for it to be pronounced Ro-bee, with a long ohh sound, but he forgot to tell me that) is a U.S. government employed assassin, flying all over the world and taking out the enemies of our country in swift and spectacular fashion. Like most of David Baldacci’s protagonists, Robie is the best at what he does, able to pull off hits with microscopic margins for error and then get away. Although he is a cold-blooded killer, Robie has a heart and conscience. This becomes evident when his path crosses with a fourteen year old foster home veteran named Julie Getty, a girl on the run after witnessing her parents murder. The two team up to solve the murder and figure out how it is tied to Robie and his sanctions. There is a female FBI agent helping Robie and as usual there are hints of sexual tension between the two, but Robie really has his eye on another girl.
Although the plot in the end borders on the implausible (what self-respecting Thriller doesn’t have one of these?) it is a fast-paced whodunnit with plenty of action and enough hairpin curves to keep the reader guessing almost to the last few chapters. I thought it was great.
The girl, Julie Getty, is the one piece of the novel that soured for me a bit. Mr. Baldacci chose to make her a street-wise urchin with a very high IQ and an ability to reason well beyond the majority of adults; not that this is not possible, but I’ve known and know a lot of fourteen years old’s who not only lack common sense but are also woefully lacking in the ability to reason. So Miss Getty is a bit much to accept. As the story progresses there remains enough distrust from Julie towards Robie to keep it plausible, most novels would have them wanting to be a family together with the hero adopting the urchin in the end making a happy family and a happy ending, of sorts. Thankfully that doesn’t happen here.
What I continue to like and appreciate about a David Baldacci novel is that, so far, he has resisted the urge that seems to plague all high-profile novelists that lace their stories with profanity and graphic sex. It is my personal opinion that people who resort to the old standbys of foul language and sex only cheapen their work and cause it to smell of old sewers (not that I know what an old sewer smells like – just imagining). These elements are an instant disappointment for me and as a result I have stopped reading many authors for this reason. I am sure that I am in the minority on this, as these people continue to sell bazillions of books; the world just can’t get enough of sex and profanity. I think it is a major crutch, keeping an otherwise good writer from improving their craft. Obviously good stories can be written without filth between the pages and the tired argument of “keeping things real” just doesn’t work anymore. I think writers put smut in their books because, well, they like smut. That is what excites them. It has nothing to do with good story telling.
Unlike other successful writers, like Clancy and Roberts and Cussler, David Baldacci seems to still be exploring different characters and scenarios and doesn’t rely on a franchise character or characters to fuel his work; his last two books have introduced new characters. He hasn’t given up yet, though, on strong, manly and highly skilled protagonists to drive his plots. For now that is what is selling his books.
If you love fast paced shoot’em up mysteries, then I recommend you pick up a copy (still resisting the urge to go digital), and read The Innocent. I don’t believe you will be disappointed. I wasn’t.