Book review: The Target by David Baldacci
All US presidents have to make world-shaking decisions but this one could result in Armageddon.
Secretly aiding and abetting an attempted coup in North Korea, one of the most dangerous countries in the world, could be political suicide for the president… and lethal for the spies sent into the heart of darkness.
Prolific American author David Baldacci is on top form for the third outing with his dynamic government assassins Will Robie and Jessica Reel whose missions seemingly impossible are the stuff of action thriller dreams.
A trained lawyer, Baldacci has never looked back since his first novel, Absolute Power, published in 1996, was turned into a major film directed by and starring Clint Eastwood.
And he certainly knows how to ratchet up the tension. The Target, which follows on from The Innocent and The Hit, is a complex, multi-layered tale of betrayal, revenge and past secrets which pits two flawed but fearless spies against a range of formidable foes from both inside and outside the CIA.
The invitation to get involved in a North Korean rebellion is so serious and so problematic that it has aged the US president five years in five minutes.
The mission is illegal and impeachable so the president turns to the one team that can pull off the impossible – Will Robie and Jessica Reel. Despite a recent troubled mission in which Reel killed fellow CIA agents, the pair’s talents as assassins are unmatched.
But there are some in power who don’t trust Robie and Reel. They doubt their willingness to follow orders and they will do anything to see that the two assassins pull off the coup… but never come back.
As they receive special training for their mission, Reel faces a personal crisis that could well lead old enemies right to her doorstep, resurrecting the ghosts of her earlier life and bringing danger to all those close to her.
And all the while, Robie and Reel are stalked by a new adversary, an agent whose training has been under conditions where most would perish. Chung-cha is a young woman raised in the infamous Yodok Camp in North Korea. It’s a place where honour, emotion and compassion don’t exist.
Cold, calculating and highly skilled, Chung-cha has been trained to kill. And the task she has been given is to destroy the enemy at all costs.
A dangerous and deadly operation of cat and mouse plays out between East and West but who will fall prey at the ultimate showdown when the true quarry is finally revealed?
Baldacci, author of 28 best-selling novels, has hit a rich seam in this high-octane, deep and dark series which harnesses moments of electrifying psychological intensity with charismatic characters and riveting action sequences.
The Target is as much a tale of base humanity as it is a thriller with its searing descriptions of spy training regimes, labour camps and evil forces at work both at home and abroad.
With the drama and action unfolding at the author’s usual breakneck speed and with simmering plot lines just waiting to explode, this is a sure fire winner for all Baldacci fans.
(Macmillan, hardback, £14.99)