"The Guilty" (Grand Central Publishing), by David Baldacci
David Baldacci proves you can't go home again in "The Guilty," his latest thriller featuring professional assassin Will Robie.
Robie takes a typical assignment and shoots someone using a sniper scope. Unfortunately, he not only eliminates the target, but also a young child standing behind the victim. The tragedy rips Robie apart, and he immediately takes another assignment to get the case out of his head, knowing it wasn't his fault. When he receives his orders to fire, he stops when a young boy climbs into the target's lap. He later learns there was nobody else there. Why did his mind conjure up the image of a small child? Has he lost his edge?
Robie learns that his father has been jailed for murder. He hasn't seen his father for 20 years, and all he knows is that his dad had become a well-respected judge in the small town of Cantrell, Mississippi. He decides to confront his old demons and recover his mojo while also possibly saving his father by helping him uncover the person responsible for the murder.
When Robie sees his father, he's surprised to learn that he doesn't want an attorney, and he's refusing to defend himself. He also doesn't want his estranged son involved. However, Robie can't turn away, and he begins to talk to residents in the town, many known to him from his childhood. The more he digs, the more it appears that his father is guilty.
Baldacci has written about life in a small town before, with the outside hero shaking up things and uncovering long buried secrets. Readers will learn a lot more about what makes Robie tick, and as a study of character, the story sings. The resolution, on the other hand, is a bit wacky and hard to believe, forcing the reader to take major leaps of faith. Still, Baldacci is a gifted storyteller, and he knows how to keep the pages turning.