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24 April 2014

David Baldacci: The Target

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Another busy time for the Hit Team
This is the third in the Will Robie series about a CIA hit man who finds he has a bit of a conscience about what he is doing. It is the second featuring Jessica Reel, another CIA assassin who is as good, if not sometimes better, than Robie. Any politico/CIA assassin thriller like this one needs to be read with your believability escapist button pressed.

Robie and Reel are still teamed up (platonically) after "The Hit" where Reel went rogue to prevent world disaster planned by senior people in Washington including the CIA. While both of them have been awarded top secret CIA medals for stopping the disaster, the current head of the CIA, Evan Tucker, is still uncomfortable with what happened. When an assignment of impeachable impact is ordered by the President, Tucker first wants to "recalibrate" his top assassins at the CIA's Burner Box training facility. This recalibration goes far further than anyone expected making them think that Tucker would not be concerned if they didn't return from their next assignment.

This time the focus is also on the personal history of Jessica Reel and this takes up an unnecessarily big chunk of almost unrelated plot. The rest is focussed on the real assignment and its aftermath. The story has a little of everything for fans of escapist adventure - high jinks on death row, kidnapping, neo-Nazis, North Korean concentration camps and trained assassins, Presidential guilt trips and payback time. Of course the body count is substantial. At times some of this was too much for my believability barometer to cope with (especially when Robie and Reel became role models for the President's children).

The crux, but not the detail, of the finale was pretty clear a long time from the end of the book. Baldacci left a number of pointers in the book to suggest that another is planned.

As usual with Baldacci, this was page-turning action which will be lapped up by his many fans. However this time I finished up a bit disappointed (3.5 stars) because the story verged too much into the unbelievable with a lot of unnecessary padding.

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