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King of crime

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The Innocent By David Baldacci Pan Macmillan, 420 pages Best Price: Rs 228 (35% off) at shopping. indiatimes. com


If David Baldacci changes his keyboard once a month, it shouldn't surprise anybody. The author, who has produced 15 number one bestsellers already, writes with such speed that his fans expect his next by the time they finish his latest novel. Why does Baldacci show no sign of slowing down ever? Firstly, and this bit is undeniable, he has lots of plots inside his head, each as gripping as the other. Secondly, his style of storytelling with its matter-of-factness - quite evidently doesn't require the sort of time patient crafting of prose does. What is undeniable, however, is that the author has millions of fans worldwide. That is the only relevant statistic for a bestselling writer that Baldacci is.
The Innocent is a fastpaced thriller. Will Robie, a professional assassin, does the dirty job of killing whenever an US agency asks him to. He asks no questions, expects no answers. Baldacci gets it right when he makes Robie perform two acts of ruthless killing in the beginning. One in Edinburgh where he knocks off a man in the human and drug trafficking business;another in Tangier where a Saudi prince who detests America is eliminated from the face of the earth.
The two episodes define Robie's nature of work. The pace is set without the consumption of too many pages. Robie's real problem begins when the prospect of completing his next assignment makes him uneasy. He falters at the crucial moment, unacceptable as it might be. As the plot proceeds with the sort of energy a thriller ought to, Robie bumps into a girl whose parents have been murdered. Once he decides to become the girl's protector, the larger story unfolds. The reality being far more complex and lethal than one is likely to imagine, getting to the heart of it is far from easy.
The Innocent's biggest triumph is that the reader ends up liking Robie who is, as Baldacci portrays him, an assassin with a conscience. The author manages to heighten the suspense as the narrative progresses, keeping the reader engrossed all through. Baldacci had set out to write a complete entertainer, and he succeeds. Now that he has one more bestseller in his kitty, he should be through with a new novel pretty soon.

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