Innocent (Baldacci)

The Innocent
David Baldacci, 2012
Grand Central Publishing
448 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781455519002

America has enemies—ruthless people that the police, the FBI, even the military can't stop. That's when the U.S. government calls on Will Robie, a stone cold hitman who never questions orders and always nails his target.

But Will Robie may have just made the first—and last—mistake of his career.

The Innocent It begins with a hit gone wrong. Robie is dispatched to eliminate a target unusually close to home in Washington, D.C. But something about this mission doesn't seem right to Robie, and he does the unthinkable. He refuses to kill. Now, Robie becomes a target himself and must escape from his own people.

Fleeing the scene, Robie crosses paths with a wayward teenage girl, a fourteen-year-old runaway from a foster home. But she isn't an ordinary runaway-her parents were murdered, and her own life is in danger. Against all of his professional habits, Robie rescues her and finds he can't walk away. He needs to help her.

Even worse, the more Robie learns about the girl, the more he's convinced she is at the center of a vast cover-up, one that may explain her parents' deaths and stretch to unimaginable levels of power.

Now, Robie may have to step out of the shadows in order to save this girl's life...and perhaps his own. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Where—Richmond, Virginia, USA
Education—B.A., Virginia Commonwealth University; J.D.,
   University of Virginia
Currently—Northern Virginia

David Baldacci's authoritative legal thrillers operate on the irresistible notion that a sinister undercurrent threads through the country's most powerful institutions.

While his stories hinge on the complex machinations behind the presidency, the FBI, the Supreme Court and other spheres of influence, Baldacci (a former Washington, D.C.-based attorney) finds his way into a mystery through the eyes of the innocents. Semi-innocents, at least: small players who often don't realize they're players at all end up hunting down answers, and their hunt becomes the reader's.

According to Baldacci, reading John Irving's The World According to Garp convinced him that he wanted to be a novelist. Absolute Power—in which a thief finds himself accidentally connected to a murder involving the president and the ensuing coverup—was hardly Irvingesque; but it did begin Baldacci's friendly relationship with the bestseller lists, which has continued over his writing career.

Baldacci's style is brief and plot-driven, but he's not afraid to linger on macabre and vivid details, such as a rosary clenched in a plane crash victim's hand, or hard-learned lessons from a sniper's life (pack your food so you can find it at night, by touch). These small but memorable—indeed, almost cinematic—details give his books another layer that distinguishes them from the average potboiler.

Although the author has occasionally departed from his usual fare (examples include the tenderhearted coming-of-age tale Wish You Well and the holiday-themed adventure The Christmas Train), it is high-octane thrillers that are his true stock in trade. Whether it's a taut stand-alone or a new installment in his "Camel Club" series, readers know when they crack the spine of a new Baldacci book, they're in for an action-packed page-turner.

• Baldacci was a trial lawyer and a corporate lawyer for nine years in Washington, D.C.

• He worked his way through college as a Pinkerton security guard and by washing and detailing 18-wheel trucks.

• Baldacci writes under his own name except when published in Italy, where he uses a pseudonym because it is the homeland of his ancestors. (From Barnes and Noble.)

Book Reviews
[A] spectacular entry into the hardcore action-adventure world...a tour de force of storytelling power and grace. Baldacci at his best, which is as good as it gets.
Providence Sunday Journal

This is another great novel by a brilliant writer. Baldacci catches you from the very first page and grabs your attention until the last word. Read it.
Lincoln Journal Star

Another action tale of espionage and betrayal from a master storyteller. Baldacci brings his unusual, distinctive skill in character development to portray people who seem very real, with a degree of unpredictability that advances this very clever plot.
Free-Lance Star (Fredericksburg, VA)

The Innocent is....all-American, all-heart... a maze of bread-crumb clues keeping you riveted to the page as each precious minute ticks toward its deadly ultimatum ....His talent for weaving so many disparate and delicate strands into a perilous web of deception is masterful, resulting in a remarkable, intellectually satiating experience.
Everyday eBook

This book is a definite one-day, 'edge-of-your-chair' read, with an ending that is a complete surprise. One of the best Baldacci's since Absolute Power, this is one that will have all suspense readers enthralled.
Suspense Magazine

"The Innocent is Baldacci at his absolute best...Baldacci provides the reader a non-stop pulse pounding ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat into the wee hours of the morning...Five Stars. (San Francisco)

David Baldacci is still at the top of his game.... He is a meticulous writer who blasts his plot into a million pieces yet is able to pull it back together before the final page is turned. [He] continutes to impress.
Huffington Post

Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for The Innocent:

1. Talk about the moral justification for assassination.

His employer decided who among the living and breathing would qualify as a target. And then they turned to men like Robie to end the living and breathing part. It made the world better, was the justification.

What do you think of "sanctioned assassinations?" Can there ever be, as the last sentence of the above quote says, a "justification" for political killing? Are assassinations sometimes necessary for public safety?

2. What do you think of Will Robie? How would you describe him as a character? Is he presented as one-dimensional—or does the author give him an psychological and emotional inner life? Does he have a moral compass?

3. Do you think our government ever employs hit men like Robie?

4. What makes Robie refuse to kill the target of his newest assignment? What makes him suspicious?

5. What do you think about Julie Getty? Does she represent the stereotypical foster child? Why does Robie decide to ally himself with her? When did he (and you, as the reader) begin to suspect that she was at the heart of the mission he was assigned to?

6. The plot consists of two climactic episodes: one when the villain is unmasked, and the second, well...we won't spoil that one. Did you find the climaxes satisfying? One more so than the other? Are the endings believable? Were you surprised...not surprised...gratified? Are all the loose ends tied up, so that all the mystifying events that take place earlier in the novel are revealed and resolved?

7. The thriller genre is characterized by a fast-paced plot, unexpected twists and turns, danger and suspense. Does The Innocent live up to its reputation as a thriller? Top-notch...or so-so?

8. If you're read other books by David Baldacci, how does this compare?

9. Do expect—hope—that The Innocent will be the first in a new Will Robie series?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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