Last month I took a quick trip to San Diego for a conference, and as is my usual habit, I picked up a suspense novel at one of the airport shops. I normally don’t go out of my way to read people like Baldacci, Michael Connolly, or Lee Child. They’re solid story-tellers, but I’ve read them before and I don’t have time to read more of their stuff, except on airplanes. Then I make an exception, since the books are quick and fun.
The Hit concerns two elite CIA assassins, Will Robie and Jessica Reel. Reel has apparently gone off the reservation and is killing guys in upper management at the agency. Robie is tasked with taking her out. There’s a fun/exciting cat-and-mouse between the two of them, at the end of which Reel convinces Robie that something is amiss at the CIA, and she’s only been trying to make things right, though in an unsanctioned way. I won’t spoil for you how this plays out. For the most part, it’s a fun read, though the end fizzles a bit.
As I say, Baldacci is a good writer who tells an engaging tale. As a writer myself, I find fault with some of his prose. For example, I subscribe to the Elmore Leonard rule that you should only use ‘said’ to tag a line of dialogue (and you should only use it when necessary). Baldacci gets a bit heavy-handed with his tags. For example, in the space of two pages, one character ‘echoed’, another ‘noted ominously’; one ‘snapped’, while another ‘said quietly’. One said something and was ‘clearly frustrated’ saying it. Another ‘snapped’ again. One ‘interjected’, and another ‘wanted to know’.
You get the picture. He does a lot of telling, rather than showing, a big faux pas, and he uses lots of adverbs, which for many of us is another mistake. He does sell a lot of books, but then so did Dutch, and he was a much better writer.