Book Review
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Disturbing Worlds of Danger, Deceit and Deception

"The Hit" by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing, $27.99)

David Baldacci's latest novel, "The Hit," is a home run in our opinion, as well as that of the New York Times Bestseller list where it spent almost four months as readers' favorite novel.

"The Hit" is packed with action, unique characters, unlikely relationships and a plot filled to the brim with surprises. Once you start this book, it's very difficult to put down until it's finished.

"The Hit" is about killers on the payroll of the U.S. government, specifically the CIA, whose task it is to eliminate America's most serious threats. To combat attacks against the nation may harm innocent people but Will Robie is in a field without peers as an assassin. At least that's the case until "The Hit," the second book in the Will Robie series; first was "The Innocent."

In "The Hit," Robie, who's worked in the past with another CIA assassin, Jessica Reel, finds they have much in common besides their profession and prior training. For example their acute observation skills, mental flexibility and superlative aim. When the story begins and people within the CIA begin to die, it's thought by some in the agency that Jessica Reel has "gone to the other side" and as a result, Robie is given the assignment to track her down and kill her.

Robie moves about the country in pursuit of his assignment, wondering if his toolbox of skills is equal to or better than those of Jessica. Caught in a trap in his first encounter, Robie is almost killed but survives. Strange communications with the rogue Reel then occur along with unique events that raise the question of who the real enemy might be.

A subplot emerges that brings them reluctantly together again. But domestically and around the world, more hits on CIA affiliates force Robie to consider Jessica Reel's ultimate motivations. Are her government targets actually bad guys in white hats and if so, should he be following orders to kill her?

The pace of Baldacci's perennial theme -- absolute power corrupts absolutely -- brings urgency and cultural relevance that many thrillers lack. But as violent as the actions of a hired assassin may be to many, Baldacci does not dwell on the gory details but instead provides pulse-racing action that is mesmerizing.

David Baldacci was born in San Francisco and currently lives in Richmond, Va., with his wife Michelle. They are the co-founders of the Wish You Well Foundation that works to combat illiteracy in the U.S. He is the author of more than 25 bestselling novels.

-- Reviewed by

David and Nancy Beckwith, authors of the Will and Betsy Black series

"Caught in the Web: Inside the Police Hunt to Rescue Children from Online Predators" by Julian Sher (Carroll & Graf Publishers, $15.95)

This book introduces the meticulously researched details of 69 heroes -- 70 counting its author, Canadian investigative journalist Sher. These are the police officers, administrators, social workers, medical and IT experts and individuals from the U.S. Postal Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department of Justice, also people from Canada, Australia, U.K., Denmark Germany and Thailand.

Their task is to rescue sexually exploited children. How they do it makes a collection of compelling stories.

A snippet: "Are you a police officer or do you work for any law-enforcement agency?" "No, I'm in Ninth Grade." "Good, thank you." (This in fact is between a 44-year-old man and an undercover FBI agent.)

We're also introduced to Ann, as they call her, a "bright but difficult" elementary school student with a reputation for telling lies. But she was indeed being abused by a personable and popular teacher and, after she finally reports the abuse to her mother, she's eventually vindicated by a dedicated cop.

"Caught in the Web" is a thoroughly annotated book with 39 pages of appendix. A compelling read, informative and educational.

-- Reviewed

by C.S. Gilbert