“The Hit,” by David Baldacci, Grand Central Publishing, 390 pages., $27.99.

This looked like a good book by an experienced author, so I bought it for too much money. It’s a page-turner, each short chapter ending with just enough to provoke the reader to continue, and I have to admit it’s a good, if improbable, story.

The author is a good storyteller, but the reader always has the feeling that he is reaching too far, inventing too much, straining our credibility beyond what is reasonable.

The story’s principal characters are Will Robie and Jessica Reel, both hired killers, both working, at one time, for the CIA. But she seems to have gone off the grid, and pretty soon he does as well.

We are treated to several murders by the protagonists, killing off bad guys mostly, though there is suspicion that Reel may be going too far (it is assumed from the beginning that murdering the bad guys is not going too far).

They finally join forces to overcome a plot to kill most of the world’s leaders at a big and important conference in Canada, and we are glad that they are not themselves killed (they are the “heroes” of this book).

Skulduggery is uncovered everywhere, and people we trust at the beginning are seen to be thugs at the end. Our mistrust of government is assumed from the beginning, as we are made to feel right at home with officially sanctioned murder.

Other operatives are involved, as are people from the FBI and other big-shot governmental agencies. One of the most engaging characters is a teenage girl who is a savvy as any of them about what needs to be done to keep America safe (kill the bad guys). It is clear that she is going to grow up to be another Jessica Reel.

Yes, there is a hint of romance between Robie and Reel, and we are surprised to find Robie as the reluctant one.

I wish the author thought more of his readers and wrote a better book. Chapter 77 begins with these words: “The day broke clear and cold.” My goodness, couldn’t he think of anything better than that to say?

The book is full of such standard baloney, but this is not expected to be great literature — it’s a story about people we would hope never to encounter, killers and their bosses and the bad guys they hunt.

I give it a C+.

Book review

Melvyn Schreiber is a physician at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Melvyn Schreiber’s essays are now available as a paperback book (without the book reviews and opera reviews). If you want one, send $15 to him at 12 E. Dansby, Galveston, TX 77551, and he will mail a copy to you.

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