Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Gideon's Sword
Preston and Child generally write some pretty good fiction together. Gideon's Sword is the story of Gideon Crew, whose father was gunned down by federal agents when he was 12, and he doesn't learn until he is an adult and his mother is dying, that his father was one of the good guys, killed by a general named Tucker who feared he would disclose a secret that would take down Tucker and his friends. Gideon spent time as an art thief as a young man, and uses his technical expertise on security systems, plus a good dose of social engineering, throughout the story.

It turns out that Gideon's quest to destroy Tucker for killing his father doesn't take very long, in terms of the novel, and then he is recruited by a contractor for the Department of Homeland Security to do some work for them. He's halfway blackmailed into doing the work, as the contractor seems to know all about Gideon's past, and then discouraged from turning the job down to follow his own long term plans when they tell him that he only has a short time to live, with an inoperable aneurysm in his brain that could explode any time.

His mission is to intercept a Chinese defector, Mark Wu, at the airport in New York and to obtain certain information Wu is suspected to be bringing into the country about a "super weapon" the Chinese have been developing. I began to wonder at this point why in the world a secretive contractor for DHS would want to use an untried untested new hire to do the job, and continued to wonder it all the way to the denouement, when the head of the company discloses that all of their computer simulations showed that any other option would result in failure, while using Crew - an unpredictable rogue - had a strong probability of success.

This story has a very twisty plot, with a lot of creative details, but there were just too many unbelievable bits for me. Crew's social engineering skills always seemed up to the task at hand, and I had a hard time believing that so many people would believe his lies, especially when he used them on naturally suspicious people like police and TSA agents. It was a quick read, but I didn't feel it was Preston & Child's best work.

1 comment:

Sally Sapphire said...

It's always a risk when authors step away from their primary characters (and I do so love Agent Pendergast), but Preston and Child have always had interesting side projects. This isn't at the top of my TBR list, but I'm still looking forward to it as a good summer read.