"The Innocent" by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing, $27)
It was David Baldacci's thriller, "The Innocent," that first introduced us to his latest character, Will Robie, a veteran assassin for the United States government. The second book in the Robie series is "The Hit," which we reviewed on this page accompanied by a photo of us with the author at a South Florida bookstore signing.
The Virginia born-and-raised Baldacci is also the author of "Divine Justice, " "Total Control" and "Absolute Power" among many other titles. In "The innocent," he is at his absolute best.
America has her enemies. Many of them are utterly ruthless people who cannot be stopped by the police, the FBI or even the military. That's when Will Robie gets called in, a stone-cold hit man who does not question his orders and always eliminates the designated target. In "The Innocent," however, Robie may have made the first and last mistake of his career. This time he's been dispatched to kill someone in the Washington, D.C., area in a mission just doesn't seem right to him -- so he refuses to kill the designated hit -- an unthinkable act that now makes him the target.
Suddenly he must escape from his own people. Fleeing the scene by bus, he comes across a fellow passenger, Julie Getty, who's a teenage runaway from a bad foster home. But not just another runaway: She witnessed the murder of her parents and her own life now is in danger. Robie knows there's a passenger on the bus who wants Julie dead. So he takes out that person and leaves the vehicle with Julie at his side just before it blows up, killing everyone left on board.
Was Julie the target of the explosion or was it also him? Robie is now doubly tasked with taking care of Julie while killers pursue them both. As the bodies begin to stack up, both from Julie's pursuers and his own, he finds the cannot trust anyone from the government or from the criminal world.
"The Innocent" explores the inner workings of a rogue government and the extent of its abuses. But Baldacci's clever plot takes so many twists and turns that the ending is quite unexpected.
It's a nonstop, pulse-pounding ride from start to finish.
-- Reviewed by David and Nancy Beckwith, Authors of the Will and Betsy Black series
Some months ago, On the Bookshelf reviewed "Shark Point" by Ernest E. Hamilton.
The author has now followed up his historical adventure set in the Everglades with another self-published volume, "Free at Last."
The blurb on the back cover gives a taste of its contents:
"In 1865, after a tearful session with his mother, Richard Harrison, a light-skinned 16-year-old freed slave, leaves the plantation in Marion County, Florida, instilled with the dream of sailing the seven seas as a free man. Should he follow his mother's advice and pose as a white man or stand tall and buck the prevailing headwinds? It's a trek trough Florida history that provides him with a new perspective on life until finally he understands his mentor's words, 'Freedom is....'"
Ernest Hamilton was born in Key West and then spent his next six years in the Florida Everglades before it became a national park. His family had lived there since 1872. He passed the next three years in the Fort Myers area, returning to Key West in December, 1941, where he graduated high school. He joined the Air Force in 1950 and graduated from the University of Florida in 1963, living in West Palm Beach until 1968. He then moved to Jupiter and has been there ever since.
His latest book is dedicated to his wife, the artist Nancy Bell, "who depicted the eagle soaring freely through the bright blue sky; who listens continuously to scene ideas, offers mostly gentle critiques and encouragement and who also reads and re-reads the manuscript, edits and re-edits."
Available at Amazon.com.