Best-selling novelist David Baldacci's latest, "The Hit" (2013, Grand Central Publishing, $27.99 hardcover) misses the mark. If your two lead characters are CIA assassins, it would help if they were at least a little likable and personable and not cold, ruthless robots who Baldacci gives only a few compassionate moments, and minimal back stories.
The plot has our hero and heroine out to get each other and then working together to thrwart a sinister plan, triggered in the highest levels of the U.S. government. When, deep in the book, this vague "apocalypse scenario" that has strung the reader along for hundreds of pages is finally revealed in detail, one may wonder, as did I, what was so end-of-the-world apocalyptic about it all, had it even worked.
So what we're left with is cool (in the cold sense), efficient main characters chasing people and answers in a conspiracy of overstated proportions. The build up is a bust.
I may have enjoyed "The Hit" more had I not recently read Stephen Hunter's "The Third Bullet" about a fictitious spin to the John F. Kennedy assassination. Hunter's Bob Lee Swagger and other key characters were multi-layered and compelling. The story was taut and tight.
Baldacci's "The Hit" just misses on many levels. Emotionless assassins, even when they're good guys and gals trying to save the world, does not a page-turner make.
Patrick Harwood teaches communication courses at the College of Charleston