The Guilty, published by David Baldacci in 2015, is another in his long series of successful thrillers. Will Robie, the hero of this story, is one of Baldacci’s stock characters, as is his partner Jessica Reel. The two are a pair of good looking, highly moral, conscientious, and dedicated – assassins, working for an agency that sounds like the CIA.
The Guilty isn’t the first time that Baldacci has turned to the back story of one of the assassins for plot material. In this case, Robie’s estranged father is in jail in his home town in Mississippi, accused of murder, providing sufficient motive for Robie to go back there twenty years after leaving. Although Robie and Reel aren’t detectives, their survival skills ensure that at least no one will succeed in killing them before they find out what’s going on.
The surprise ending depends on yet another example of a writer invoking a highly improbable, not to say impossible, change in appearance. How can you bring in a character that should have been recognizable to people who knew him or her very well, without anyone having a clue who they really are? How about plastic surgery, an adult growth spurt adding two inches of height, and changing eye color by laser treatment (is that even possible?).