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on 16 April 2013
Will Robie and "Super Agent" Vance return (we first met them in The Innocent). The theme is a familiar one for devotees of Baldacci. The government of the USA is continuing its relentless campaign of killing off everyone with whom it disagrees. But it may not be that all its targets for murder are actually evil. And, of course, there is suspicion of there being some bad apples right at the top of the barrel.

Robie is told to hunt down and kill a CIA agent called Jessica Reel. She, like him, has spent her professional career killing people who have fallen out of favour with the government. But now she seems to have turned. She has embarked on her own, independent, killing campaign. And the victims are federal employees. Once again (it happens in almost all Baldacci books) the government has decided that Jessica must be killed, that she should not be allowed to stand trial. Robie is given the job.

But is Reel really a traitor? Could it be that the real traitors are right at the top of the federal security agencies? Is something horribly sinister going on? I shan't answer those questions. You must read the book yourselves. And I reckon you will enjoy it.

Of course, it is all dreadful nonsense. The story is grossly unbelievable. But that doesn't matter. Baldacci writes escapist stories. When we embark on reading them we happily accept that we are going to be required to believe extreme fantasy. At least I hope it is fantasy, for Mr Baldacci's sake. If the federal government of the USA really behaves in the way he portrays he is likely to be gunned down by a CIA agent himself (for revealing what they get up to).

This is splendid page-turning stuff. There are one or two holes in the story, but they can be easily overlooked. Towards the end Baldacci cuts a few corners (the set-piece finale is disappointing). But, on the whole, this is a good read. And Baldacci's obsession with bottoms seems to have been put aside (this is about the first of his books I have read which does not have the words "ass", "butt", "buttocks" or "bottom" on almost every page).

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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 26 February 2014
David Baldacci has been one of my favorite authors for a number of years, but I have been rather disappointed with the last two or three more recent offerings I have read. They seemed to me to be both overlong and the stories just did not hang together very well. I do not include The Innocent here, which is the predecessor to this book, as I have not read that one. However, this is very much a standalone volume and not having read the other did not diminish my enjoyment.

I thought this represented Baldacci on good form. It's a clearly thought out plot, not overly long and with plenty of action along the way. It never really loses momentum. The story is perhaps a little unlikely. A US Government hit man is sent after a former colleague who has, apparently, turned rogue and started to kill senior figures on her own side. However there are doubts as to whether she really has turned and indications of a huge conspiracy. Personally I am more than happy to suspend disbelief if the story is good enough to warrant it and this one certainly is.

Overall an excellent tale which most who enjoy this genre are going to appreciate. Let's hope that Baldacci continues to write to this standard. Recommended!
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Will Robie is a Government assassin who made his first appearance in The Innocent. In this instalment he is assigned the task of tracking down a rogue agent who is systematically killing off members of the CIA. Robie trained with Jessica Reel and has always respected her. He wants to understand what has led her to turn on her handlers, but at the same time he is aware that he is in danger as is anyone close to him.

This is typical of many of Baldacci's recent books in that the action moves at a good pace but the suspense factor is low and the credibility factor is zero. I just don't buy Robie as a top assassin - he is far too impetuous, emotional and sloppy. I was hoping that we would be spared Julie the homework obsessed 14 year old and FBI agent/potential love interest Vance who made an appearance first time round, but no, here they are again. Why do we have to keep being reminded what a good guy Robie is underneath? A far more credible assassin for me is Victor, the hero of the series by Tom Wood (start with The Hunter (Victor the Assassin)) - he is a genuine professional with an icy exterior. Not Robie. As for the plot - well it unfolds much as you expect it will and has all those trademark Baldacci touches like an obsession with descriptions of people driving in cars, wooden dialogue and statements like "He operated in the world of government power, and it was as dirty as the grimiest alley in the city".

What it adds up to is a thriller that doesn't thrill. I was bored reading it. Yes, there's action and yes I suppose technically there are twists and turns, but if you don't see them coming from a mile away I'd be surprised.
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This is a by the numbers thriller and sadly that has become the norm for the author. Goverment hitman Robie has to take down a fellow assassin that has gone rogue, but is there a bigger conspiracy behind the scenes? You ou have read a few of these things you could probably write the script yourself at this point. The bad guys are obvious and the conspiracy is a badly thought up bit of nonsense. Having said that it is an easy read because you don't need to put your brain into gear at all. But very unsatisfying and undemanding. Three stars is borderline generous.
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on 20 April 2014
David is one of my favourite authors and Will one of my favourite characters. This is a must read for anyone who likes thrillers
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on 1 May 2013
I am a fan of Baldacci's writing. I have read and very much enjoyed over a dozen of his novels. They are fast paced, engaging and have well constructed plots.

The Hit offers none of these things. It is plodding, pedestrian and has a storyline that is frankly dull and boring.

The quality of the writing lacks any flair or sparkle and left me feeling short-changed by the end of the book.

In short, an utterly disappointing read.
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on 27 February 2014
Robie vs. Reel. Male vs. female assassin. Good vs. evil.

As most suspense/thrillers go an author will almost always require the reader to take a leap of faith for the convenient coincidences and circumstances in which the characters find themselves. As long as the reader is willing to go along with it and not question situations that seem absurd - just take the story for what it is (fiction), you can press on and enjoy the ride.

Both Robie and Reel are professional assassins working for the Government. If you have ever wondered what a career assassin is really like, presuming that there are such people and presuming that they are operating for the good of hearth and home: here is some inkling:

Pg. 149
"And it had finally dawned on Jessica Reel that the best arbiter of what was good and what was evil was her own moral compass, tarnished as it was by what she'd done in the past."

Pg. 161
Robie: "He was glad the rental fees were deductible. Sanctioned assassins didn't get many tax breaks."

Pg. 173
Robie: "Sincerity in this business was hard to come by. When you found it you were almost always surprised at your good fortune."

Pg. 316
Robie: "I am a killer. I am also a human being. The only problem is, I can't be both."

This is fast paced action featuring two characters who happen to be intriguing, likable professional assassins. You can't help wanting them to win.
Unfortunately by the end of the book I wasn't sure who the bad guys were. Either I missed it; it wasn't enough of a clincher or it was not made abundantly clear. It certainly wasn't who I thought it was. Personally, I prefer definitive endings.
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on 16 December 2013
`The Hit' (2013) is the first thriller by David Baldacci I've read and I'm wondering whether I should try a second. He's a successful writer and the book is certainly a `thriller' but, for me, there are certain weaknesses. However, I should add that this book, like some football matches, definitely has TWO halves!
Let's start with PART 1 which ends about Page 290.
At times the body-count is very high and death is shrugged off as if of no importance. The plot resembles the scenarios of video games which are so open to criticism for their effect on the young. The principle characters wade through this carnage like automatons, delivering death with remarkable effectiveness - not for them shooting people in the legs, thighs, shoulders, chests; no, it's straight in the head almost every time. At one moment they may briefly acknowledge such unwelcome feelings such as sympathy, pity, empathy, kindness and then they're bundled into a box and shoved well out of the way of `action'. If the image given of the CIA, Home Front and other defenders of American democracy is even vaguely accurate then I think the American public should consider they've wandered too far down the wrong trail. I was reminded of the Biblical quote that, `What profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul' (Matt 16:26). For me the world described in these pages is but one short step from the dystopian images of Orwell or Kafka.
The author's style sometimes appears rather stilted - amazingly in a `thriller'. Here's what I mean. A certain reluctance sometimes appears to use elliptic forms of verbs. Here's an example: `"I have evaluated both of you as objectively as I can. I think you are equally gifted.... (P. 160) - Why not I've and `you're `?Then there are the repetitive sentence- openers. Here are five sentences in a single paragraph: `She followed....She rode up....She had to.... She retraced.... She drove....'(P. 264) Writers often use repetition, especially in short sentences, to describe rapid action (e.g. attack) or reaction (e.g. horror). Here's another variation, to which I've added [ ] to words that could have been eliminated: `It was like [she was] killing her father over and over. [It was like she was] extinguishing the neo-Nazis for eternity... (P.220) Of course, I'm being finicky because David Baldacci has certainly sold a lot of books so it must be what the public like!
Characterisation is rather limited because the main characters seem merely to eat, sleep and kill. Do they have nightmares or is that psychic turmoil beyond their trance-like existence?
So far, so bad. Now let's turn to Part 2 and there's a dramatic change.
There may be gunplay but individuals are shot in legs and other non-fatal areas. The unexpected happens to our heroes `'When they landed, they hit soft mud, not water. The one thing they couldn't have accounted for was a summer drought..' (P.402) So the reader is leaving the fantasy world of the games-machine and entering reality. This, in fact, adds to the excitement of a thriller because it colours what was a monochrome delivery.
Indeed, human `weaknesses' appear : `Exactly what she had been surprised by was an emotion she had never encountered in her work. Mercy.' (P.298). The hero, Will Robie, now appears to be like the rest of us: `He tasted acid in his mouth as bile was shoved up his throat. Not matter how many times you did this, being shot at was not natural, and your body reacted in consistent ways.' (P.460) Is that what `getting a taste of your own medicine' does? If so, it certainly improves the book. Robie sums up his identity crisis in the form of a syllogism: `I am a killer. I am also a human being. The only problem is, I can't be both.' (P. 467) and thereafter his approach changes.
Characters start stepping off the page as REAL people. The `goodies' show human emotion, even under attack - `When he looked back at Reel, she was bending down next to her dead friend, wiping a lock of hair out of his face.' (P. 461) Will Robie and Jessica Reel are both haunted and driven by memories. Villains are allowed higher motivation - `he had felt immensely patriotic, particularly as he watch brave young American die every week in foreign lands, many of them killed by the very people they were fighting to protect' (P.439). Villains are shown to have self-doubts and families and cease being `clay pigeons'. The plot is based on one of the standard `ends justifies the means'. `We were tired of the killing, the chaos and always being at the edge of the precipice. We just wanted a more stable, peaceful world by having people we could actually deal with in power over there. A few lives to save millions? How can that possibly be wrong?' (P.538) Those questions could never have appeared in the first half, so was the book written by two different people?
The style is less stilted and `The Hit' remains a fast-paced thriller with twists at the end. The book was published in 2013 but the Syria described bears little resemblance to that revealed by the media since 2011. Had events overtaken the plot - always a problem when writing `contemporary thrillers'?
I'd give `The Hit' three stars ( two of those being gained by Part 2!)and as regards my buying another book by Baldacci? Yes, but certainly with a different protagonist.
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on 12 August 2013
David Baldacci is a master in the genre he's chosen -action packed adventure with a healthy side of flag waving.

His latest - The Hit - is the second in the Will Robie series. Will is an assassin for the US government....

"A highly skilled assassin, Robie is the man the U.S. government calls on to eliminate the worst of the worst-enemies of the state, monsters committed to harming untold numbers of innocent victims."

This time, Robie's next target is closer to home. He's been tasked with finding and killing Jessica Reel. Reel is an assassin like Robie - and just as good. But it looks like she's gone rogue - she's killed two high ranking military officers. Or has she? As Robie and Reel play cat and mouse, new facts emerge, leading Robie to question his orders - and his superiors.

I don't think I've read a Baldacci book in a long time. Instead I choose to listen to them, as Hachette Audio has put together a fantastic team that has narrated most of his books. Ron McLarty has one of the best voices I've ever listened to. It's deep, gravelly, expressive and oh so resonant. He absolutely captures the tone and characters of Baldacci's work. Orlagh Cassidy plays the female characters in the audio versions of Baldacci's novels. She's the perfect companion for McLarty, with just as expressive a voice. Together they provide a rich listening experience. Hachette Audio has enhanced this by adding sound effects and music to this production.

As I said, Baldacci has found a formula that works for him and he's good at it. So, the tone is similar to past novels, but I've found them to be entertaining listens for the drive back and forth to work.

Those who enjoy espionage thrillers would enjoy any of Baldacci's titles.
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"The battle became fierce against Saul. The archers hit him, and he was severely wounded by the archers." -- 1 Samuel 31:3 (NKJV)

Will Robie is back. Once again he's sent after a member of his own organization, this time a highly talented assassin, Jessica Reel, he knows. As you can imagine, Robie finds this troubling, even in the emotion-free zone that he tries to maintain. He also wonders why Jessica has been assassinating other members of the organization. What could her reason be?

Assassin versus assassin is a familiar theme in the thriller literature. It can provide some astonishingly interesting confrontations and fascinating plot developments. I give Mr. Baldacci full credit for putting in some good surprises in the book, the points that I'm sure are contributing to this book being a hit in the book business. However, I wouldn't be treating you fairly if I didn't point out that on the scale of such thrillers The Hit is pretty average.

The "miss" elements here involve making Reel's motivations far too easily disclosed, presenting the "bad" people a little too early and a little too clearly, and having a final crisis that doesn't seem quite up to the way it's built up in the book's plot.

I thought that the book was an easy read and sustained my interest. It is more of a thriller than it is a suspense novel, something that would have made the book more appealing in my opinion. The book has a few scenes that will definitely get your pulse racing, which is good.

I'm not aware of a better thriller in the last few weeks, so if you are looking forward to one there can be no doubt that The Hit will do.
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