The Guilty: David Baldacci
Will Robie is a well- known operative for a government agency that does not really exit. Called on to take out certain dangerous killers, drug lords or anyone that the government wants eliminated he is sent in to do the job. But, what happens when his target is in sight and the trigger is pulled changes it all forever for him. He is well trained, disciplined and deadly and won’t hesitate to kill when needed. Entering places where most would never venture, he has defeated many enemies, penetrated security measures and eliminated major threats before it reached us. But, this one assignment changed it all when a young child was accidentally caught in the crossfire and killed. On the next mission which his superiors thought he should wait he did not and when it came time to pull the trigger he imagined seeing two people that were not there and someone else was ready to take the target out. No longer a viable agent and now losing the ability to shoot, he decides to return home to a small Gulf Coast town called Cantrell, Mississippi where he left over 20 years ago never wanting to return again. Returning home for one reason first to get a handle on himself and his inability to pull the trigger and second to learn why his father was arrested for murder and hopefully help him with his defense. How do a father and son react to each other after being apart for 2 decades? The initial shock is not quite what you would think and when Robie asks to see him his request is denied. But, persistence is one of his attributes and with the help of Deputy Sheila Taggart he learns about the death of Sherman Clancy, the victim, his daughter’s death and the possibility that he killed him for sleeping with his new wife. Dan Robie, is a judge and the man who was accused of killing his own daughter was found not guilty. Dan Robie was an attorney and had been elected judge and very respected. Cantrell is a small town where gossip reigns and true thought never comes about with many of the people living there. So, sent to jail, the prosecutor wanting bail denied, guilty even before the trial, Dan does not want Robie’s help. But, sometimes things do not always go his way and with his father’s tenacity, anger and rage he finds Toni Moses a local attorney to help defend him.
Coming back to his hometown he never expected to learn that his father was remarried and that he has a stepbrother. The Willows is his father’s new home and the nanny and maid, Priscilla an amazing person that is not only great with Tyler, his brother, but smart and astute as well. With the investigation underway lives are at stake because someone does not want Dan Robie found innocent and when all of the pieces of each murder and death unfold the startling conclusion will astound readers.
Asked to meet someone in the middle of the night and having to learn some information little does Will know that he is being set up and when the end result comes lucky for him Jessica Reel shows up and the two of them all down. Clancy was the victim that Dan supposedly killed but when learning more about him and his friend Henry Barksdale readers will uncover their link to a casino group that is quite powerful. Learning more about his father and some other veterans he learns about something called ROH where family members have children with family members and what he learns about this and the casino group’s link to Sherman Clancy, Henry Barksdale and the Chisum girls might have learned and what they and a man named Wendell were doing to kids on their property, who belonged to migrant workers, things got out of control. A simple photograph revealed it all to Will but who was now after him to silence him and more.
Robie’s role to serve America had boundaries that were clearly delineated but when delving into his father’s case those rules were banished, lines were crossed and more questions left unanswered. Digging deep into the past and lives of the darker side of Cantrell, might prove deadly to him and Jessica as they are now someone’s prime target. With the aid of the Blue Man, his superior and the love of his life, Laura Barksdale, always on his mind, just what happened and what was said when he left changed lives but not for the better. When the Barksdale’s sold Dan the Willows they left from Cantrell, address unknown. A promise broken to a young girl would haunt Will forever. As he gets to know Tyler and Victoria better, realizing that the child does not speak at all yet understands, you begin to see patterns that allow Will and the reader to wonder about Victoria. With the help of Deputy, Sheila, Taggart who readily gives him help after he is attacked in a bar by Pete Clancy and his friends, using his CIA skills as an operative hoping to take the upper lead and solve the mysteries of the murder and more.
Middle of the night missions that he and Jessica commit to in order to solve the case, early morning meetings and the help of Blue Man to learn the truth, the violence erupts, the FBI enters the picture, skeptic to follow through and with a pedophile named Wendell, blackmailing on many different fronts, rape and incest all issues brought to light in this complex novel can Robbie and Reel find the killer before it’s too late.
A new clue about a young girl in an institution named Jane Smith sends a chilling spark down Robie’s spine as she reminds him of someone else but is she that person? What does Laura have to do with this case and is she still alive?
Each scene vividly voiced and depicted and the fear and violence present as the story is fast paced, well crafted as only author David Baldacci presents a mystery/thriller with a shocking and terrifying ending. Clues and evidence mounts up but the real killer just might be hiding in plain sight but will the blinders come off and will the killer destroy all that Will loves and cares about or will someone finally come to his aid? Added in we learn about Billy Faulconer, terminally ill and why Robie questions his doctor thinking he could have done more. But, Little Bill, his son is amazing on the computer and can hack into anything. With Little Bill, they are able to discern what was placed on a specific computer and he deciphers the code.
A final tense moment when faced with the killer in plain sight and the fear that not only his life is at stake and Jessica’s too will anyone come to their aid before his whole family and him are all wiped out? Who took the time to make sure Dan Robie will rot in prison? Who wanted revenge on him and Will in the worst way? Why did it take so long? What would have happened to his father if he did not come back to Cantrell? Will they mend the fences if he lives long enough? A novel that will help readers understand the true meanings of patience, revenge, blackmail, hate, prejudice, fear and family love and loyalty as David Baldacci brings the novel to a riveting close hopefully with an ending that will take care of and eliminate THE GUILTY!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine