Bal­dacci on tar­get with thriller

Char­ac­ters are com­plex, tales a bit dis­jointed

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Books - JEFF AYERS

David Bal­dacci Grand Cen­tral Pub­lish­ing

In David Bal­dacci’s lat­est thriller, The Tar­get, mas­ter as­sas­sins Will Ro­bie and his part­ner, Jes­sica Reel, are sup­pos­edly given a clean slate by the govern­ment on the con­di­tion that they take an as­sign­ment that is — in re­al­ity — a sui­cide mis­sion.

The pres­i­dent knows it could mean his im­peach­ment if they are caught. Evan Tucker, the head of the CIA, doubts they can fol­low or­ders and would pre­fer to see them die be­fore they take the as­sign­ment. He throws them into the Burner Box, a high-tech train­ing fa­cil­ity that is no­to­ri­ous for break­ing agents, both phys­i­cally and men­tally. Tucker tosses the ab­so­lute worst at them, and they soon dis­cover that sur­viv­ing the tor­ture is the easy part of their mis­sion.

While they are strug­gling to pass the ever-in­creas­ing bru­tal tests lobbed at them, a man in an­other part of the coun­try awaits his fate on death row. How­ever, he is dy­ing from lung cancer, and he per­suades his doc­tor to look up his daugh­ter, who was placed in wit­ness pro­tec­tion years ear­lier, so he can tell her good­bye.

He has an ul­te­rior mo­tive, and while his doc­tor con­tem­plates con­tact­ing the au­thor­i­ties, in an­other part of the world, a North Korean as­sas­sin re­ceives a dan­ger­ous mis­sion with world­chang­ing ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

Ro­bie and Reel are com­plex char­ac­ters, and any­thing they do is a plea­sure to fol­low. How­ever, the ad­ven­tures are ex­tremely short and some­what dis­jointed from the rest of the story, mak­ing it ap­pear that the mis­sions were short sto­ries that Bal­dacci shoved in with the rest of the story and char­ac­ters. That aside, Bal­dacci knows how to get read­ers to turn the pages, and he’s in top form here.

The Tar­get

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