When Special Agent Will Robie gets the call to make his first visit home since he was a teenager, it's because his father, the local judge, has been arrested for murdering a man who came before him in court. The small, remote Mississippi town hasn't changed, and its residents remember Robie as a wild sports star and girl magnet. He left a lot of hearts broken and a lot of people angry. Will and his father, Dan, are estranged, and his mother left years ago. When he visits Dan in jail, he finds that time hasn't healed old wounds. There's too much bad blood between the men, and although Will feels no good will come of staying around, he is persuaded to confront his demons by fellow agent Jessica Reel. But then another murder changes everything, and stone-cold killer Robie will finally have to come to grips with his toughest assignment of all. His family.
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As a massive David Baldacci fan, my expectations for this book were set high. I love the Will Robie series, and always want more of him.
Before I say anything negative, I want to say that this book is by no means bad. In fact, it has a mostly good story line, with plenty of twists, keeping you guessing until the end. I think that Baldacci, in writing a book like this, gives the reader a deeper look in to the background of Will Robie, not as the government assassin, but as the person, who left home unannounced two decades earlier,and never came back.It gives us possible reasons as to why Will Robie is the person he is today, and why he does what he does for a living. Of course Jessica Reel is there to help Robie, and I'm glad to see that she features in this book.
When writing a book like this, that takes the main character out of his or her natural setting, there is always a chance that the book will not live up to expectations. One reason for this, is simply that we want to see the character in the same setting we're used to. In this case,we want to see Robie as a government assassin, dealing with the deceit and complexity of the shady world that comes with it. In this book we don't see that. Yes there are various scenes in it where Robie and Reel do what they do best, killing, and there is certainly deceit and complexity, but it isn't quite the same. There are two main reasons why Robie has decided to go home after so long. One, because his estranged father has been accused of murder, which is plausible,the second (I don't want to give away anything about the book here, so I'll try to be vague), is because of something that happened to Robie on his latest mission, which he would class as a terrible mistake, which, as reasons go isn't all that plausible. The second reason, is very weak, and not very believable, not in terms of the mistake itself, which is believable , but in the use of it as a reason for Robie to return home.The mistake itself could have happened, and could, and probably would have caused a lot of distress to Robie, but the way it is presented as a cause for Robie to deal with certain issues from his past, doesn't work for me, The likelihood of the two things happening at around the same time is unconvincing. Nevertheless, his father being accused for murder is as good a reason as any to go back home. There are parts of the book where Robie has to "deal" with certain aspects of both his past and present, which would be ok if it were mentioned once, maybe twice. But it is mentioned more than that, which I find to be completely out of character with who Will Robie is. Maybe that was the whole point of this book, but again I found it to be a bit too soft in comparison to the killer we know Will Robie to be.
Again, I found the narrators to be good, but not great. I felt that they didn't bring me in to "the world" of the story. Orlagh Cassidy probably did a better job in portraying Jessica Reel than Kyf Brewer did of Will Robie. There was nothing terrible about the narration, and again, it's far from disappointing, but it could have been better.
After saying all of that, I still found the book to be a good read/listen overall. As I said, the story line is mostly good, and there are plenty of things to like about it, and although it isn't Baldacci's best, it is still very readable. I wouldn't call it a page turner, but it did keep me interested, and the story moved along at a decent pace. If you are a Baldacci fan, your expectations will probably be high considering most of his previous books. I would say to you that it is good, but not great, and that it is definitely worth a read/listen. You might not be completely happy, but you will be far from disappointed.
Sometimes there is a need for a book like this in a series. There may be a reason that we don't yet know about, that might show this book and its story line in a different light. Time, and future books in this series, will tell us if that is the case. Either way, I'm still a massive Baldacci fan, and I can't wait to see where he takes both this series and his others next.
What made the experience of listening to The Guilty the most enjoyable?
A great joint narrative effort from the reliably compelling Brewer and Cassidy. Their performances and nuanced characters really helped bring the story to life. Additionally, there is just enough production on this recording to really enhance some of the scenes without any background music or effects hampering the narration or drama of the scenes. The story is vintage Baldacci; compelling, but easy enough to follow and get through quickly. His Will Robie character isn't quite Jack Reacher, but is entertaining and efficient. Looking forward to the next one.....
What other book might you compare The Guilty to, and why?
The Guilty is readily compared to any of the preceding Will Robie novels, but that's a good thing.
Which scene did you most enjoy?
The early dialogue scenes are the most interesting and authentic to the setting, but do drag after a while.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I'd love to have the time to do a listen in one sitting!