The Whole Truth by David Baldacci

March 23, 2011

Plot summary (from the publisher): Nicolas Creel is a man on a mission. He heads up the world’s largest defense contractor, The Ares Corporation. Dick Pender is the man Creel retains to “perception manage” his company to even more riches by manipulating international conflicts. But Creel may have an even grander plan in mind.

Shaw, a man with no first name and a truly unique past, has a different agenda. Reluctantly doing the bidding of a secret multi-national intelligence agency, he travels the globe to keep it safe and at peace.

Willing to do anything to get back to the top of her profession, Katie James is a journalist who has just gotten the break of a lifetime: the chance to interview the sole survivor of a massacre that has left every nation stunned.

In this terrifying, global thriller, these characters’ lives will collide head-on as a series of events is set in motion that could change the world as we know it. An utterly spellbinding story that feels all too real, THE WHOLE TRUTH delivers all the twists and turns, emotional drama, unforgettable characters, and can’t-put-it-down pacing that readers expect from David Baldacci-and still goes beyond anything he’s written before.

Warning: Spoilers below!


  • I kind of liked that there wasn’t a truly happy ending for the characters. Shaw lost Anna, and even his revenge couldn’t do anything to heal his broken heart. Too often, novelists would have gone the easy route of having Shaw and Anna ride off into the sunset together.
  • Katie was a decent female protagonist. Sometimes male authors tend to write women as little more than caricatures who care more about the clothes they wear and how they look than about getting the job done. It was refreshing to see that Katie didn’t know the first thing about which shoes womens magazines touted in their spring collection or which outfit would flatter her figure the most while she was out chasing bad guys. She just did her job and that was that.
  • I’m glad Shaw and Katie remained just friends. It would have been way too weird if they’d gotten together so soon after Anna’s death. I can buy them being nothing more than friends.
  • This book moved along at a fairly quick pace without too many extraneous/unnecessary scenes, which is just what I want from a thriller.


  • I didn’t feel that the “Red Menace” thing was enough of a ticking bomb. People were supposed to be scared about the Cold War coming back? Really? Meh. “Blame Russia” just doesn’t seem convincing enough for something written in 2008.
  • What was the deal with Frank? In the beginning, Baldacci made him out to be a real jerk, what with not letting Shaw retire to get married. But then it turned out that he really cared about Shaw, backed him up and protected him and all that?? WTH? If that was the case, why not let him out so he could enjoy a quiet life with Anna? That didn’t make much sense to me.
  • How was it that everyone recognized Katie James? I’m not just talking about her name, but her face. Characters in this book knew who she was before she introduced herself. How often does that happen with print reporters in this day and age? Sure, people recognize Anderson Cooper and Bill O’Reilly, but that’s because they’re on TV every night. Sorry, but I didn’t buy it. Newspaper reporters just aren’t that famous anymore. Today’s 20-somethings probably wouldn’t even be able to pick Woodward and Bernstein out of a lineup.
  • Once again, the villains toy around with the heroes instead of killing them off right away. Creel’s men had no problem taking care of Pender instantly, but then they staged Katie and Shaw on the brink of a car crash? Why not just push the damn car over the edge to begin with to make sure the “accident” took place? Dumb. And then later, Creel’s bodyguard instantly shot Creel’s wife through the head when she proved to be too much of a nuisance, but they dilly-dallied over Katie James. Why? Just so Shaw would have time to show up and save her? Stuff like that bothers me.
  • Shaw had no first name? Gimme a break. And Anna had no problem just calling him “Shaw”? Whatever.


Overall, I thought The Whole Truth by David Baldacci was an average thriller. There were some good things about it and some bad, but nothing extreme in either direction. It was a quick, mindless read that filled a couple of Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I give it 3 stars out of 5.

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