Review: Gideon’s Sword

Gideon's Sword
Gideon’s Sword by Douglas Preston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

They have the second book just out, and I wasn’t sure (dratted memory) if I had read the first, since I had no recollection of it, although I always try and keep up with their stuff, either as a pair or solo, since they are excellent thriller writers. But, not knowing if I’d read it, I went ahead and ordered it from the library, and started. I began to recognize certain small details, but most of the larger plot escaped me, so I decided to go ahead and reread it, even though it was only published Feb 2011. This series differs dramatically from the Pendergast series, in that the hero is young, rather impulsive, and prone to derring-do. It starts out with him as a child, being taken to a government secure facility, and being told to stay in the car. There are police everywhere, and vans, news crews, etc. He gets out of the car, and hears his mother on a loudspeaker, telling his Dad inside apparently to let his hostage go. He creeps forward, and the hostage comes out. Gideon’s dad is then told if he surrenders, they won’t shoot. He insists that his story be told and given proper credence and investigation. They agree. As his dad steps out, hands raised in the air, he is shot. Gideon tries to rush forward but is stopped by the cops. This formulates the next chapter of his life, working as an art “liberator” or thief. He doesn’t care. He gets a call that his mother is dying from the alcohol and pills she took after his father died under a cloud of treason. But she tells him now, on her death bed, that he was innocent – that he was framed. That the code he and his group were working on was fundamentally flawed, and had a back-door, which when the code was employed, the Russians cracked it and 29 agents in the field were killed. He was blamed for that, but it didn’t happen that way. Gideon’s dad knew about the back door and in a memo tried to warn the people at the defense department, but they had invested so much time and energy into this code that they didn’t want to stop, and ignored him. Afterwards since it was his code, they blamed him, and he became a pariah, which led to the hostage situation.

Knowing that his father was innocent, he sets up some elaborate scams and does some computer hacking to find the smoking gun that will prove his father’s innocence, since he has had to live under that treasonous cloud all his young life. The sting is successful, brilliantly engineered, and when it is done, he goes back to his job at Los Alamos, and his weekend cabin in the mountains for fly-fishing. One weekend a man comes in a helicopter, and says he has a job for him. Gideon says he’s not interested, but the man persuades him to take on this one job that involves following a Chinese scientist as he arrives in NYV and liberating some plans or information on a secret weapon that could allow China to take over the world. Gideon is in debt from his scam to prove his father’s innocence, so he accepts. But he misses Wu at the airport, and the book follows him trying to follow Wu, with an assassin out to kill him and or Wu, and working with a CIA agent. It all ends in a battle royale on Hart Island, home of Potter’s Field. It’s a great book, fun, improbable, but not impossible, and would make a great spy thriller movie. Tom Cruise in is younger days could have payed Gideon. Think Mission Impossible. Writing in their unique style – a blend of adventure, culture, some literary references, and humor, along with a cast of minor characters, they slowly build a picture of their lead character, but all will not be revealed in the first book – they dribble it out slowly, like the best TV cop shows do. Going to be ordering the next book today – hopefully I won’t be too far down the list.

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