My introduction to this series was with book two, The Hit (click here) and I was very happy that the series continues. This book delves into North Korea and its prison camps as well as the volatile political atmosphere which provide plenty of fuel for the story.
Copyright: April 2014 (Grand Central Publishing) 432 pgs
Series: 3rd in Will Robbie - Assassin Thriller series
Mystery Sub-genre: Thriller
Main Characters: Wiliam Robie and Jessica Reel, U.S. sanctioned elite assassins
Setting: Modern day, Washington DC and North Korea
Obtained Through: Personal purchase
This book had a lot going on. The main plot line involves North Korea and a possible opportunity to stop a cruel dictator...but if the plan goes wrong there could be many repercussions. Agent Jessica Reel has made an enemy in Evan Tucker, the head of the CIA. Jessica had stopped his close friends, who were ultimately traitors, by killing them. Tucker is out for revenge against Reel, so under the guise of preparing her and agent Robie for the North Korean mission he puts them into the burner box (extreme training environment) with the intent they never leave alive. If they live they are on this sketchy mission that may kill them and potentially start world war III, or see the president impeached. Additionally, Reel's father, a neo-nazi on death row, is plotting to find her and have her killed. To add yet more danger to the mix, a North Korean assassin woman, Chung Cha, is on Robie and Reel's trail. She may be deadlier than both of them combined.
This book was more about Reel than the last one. She has to face a demon from her past, her father. Robie takes more of a support role for Reel. Chung - Cha (Comrade Yie) is a break-out character with complexity and depths that slowly come to the surface. She was raised as a child in Yodok, a prison work camp where families turn on each other to survive. Evan Tucker, director of CIA has made it his mission to make Reel pay for taking his friends down...but how far will he go is the question. Earl Fontaine, Reel's father, demonstrates the depths of depravity that some sink to as he manipulates and sets his own daughter up.
The Burner Box training facility is effectively portrayed as an ultimate training exercise, and potentially deadly. N.Korean prison camps of Yodok and Bukchang are so well detailed that you feel the oppression and despair. The plot is of an elaborate design which I enjoyed, but some might find the story beyond just suspension of disbelief status. The pacing, for me, was a good mix of action and character development. The climax was a rush and had a stunning twist. The wrap-up sealed the deal and has me waiting for the next Robie and Reel adventure.
For me, this was another great thriller from Baldacci and character insights resonated with me.
Rating: Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.
Here is an interview with Mr. Baldacci about this book.