Monday, February 14, 2011

Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Gideon's SwordIt's Valentine's Day, and instead of something schmoopy, I thought that I'd like today's review to be anything but--so a review of Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Hachette - Grand Central), which comes out in hardback on February 22. It should be available for pre-order in the United States.

I've been a fan of Lincoln and Child for ages. I remember being riveted by Relic, enthralled by The Cabinet of Curiosities, intrigued by The Ice Limit, and more recently, RipTide gave me nightmares. When I want to think of something icky and scary, I think of Rip Tide.

To be blunt, I don't think this is Preston and Child's strongest. The protagonist, Gideon Crew, doesn't seem as vibrant as some of the pair's past characters, and the story isn't quite as high-concept, edge-of-your-seat as some of their other offerings. That said, it's still a strong start to a new series, and there's a time element inherent in the plot that I think will boost the books to come; fans will want to add this one to the Preston-Child collection.

Gideon Crew has a fairly unremarkable life, nowadays. His father's death in a government shootout over his father's whistleblowing activities is a hazy memory, his mother is gone, he's given up his habit of secret heists, and his job at Los Alamos provides him with time for peaceful fishing retreats in an out-of-the-way mountain cabin. Someone from the Department of Homeland Security shows up and before Gideon knows it, he's making a "choice" to spend the rest of his (short) life serving his country. That means investigating the death of a defecting Chinese scientist, using prostitutes for cover, sneaking into secure facilities, wearing disguises, and secretly liking the whole thing. Think government intrigues, rogue agents, spy cameras, and just a little cutting-edge technology that could ruin the world--or save the day.

CIA agent Mindy Jackson can be counted on in scrapes, Gideon thinks, and she may have the most surprises of the secondary characters. Nodding Crane, a Chinese operative, is also a worthy antagonist.

In some ways, Gideon is the ultimate frustrating thriller alpha male, blundering through action hero stereotypes. As the book goes on, he does seem to become more aware that he is not the only intelligent person in the world, and more aware of his assumptions and prejudices. It will be interesting to see where Gideon goes in terms of character development, as Gideon's Sword sets up an opportunity for more--more chapters, more adventures, and a deeper storyline.

*Review copy provided by Hachette. Thanks!

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