Many of you by now may know that I am a fan of Bookcrossing. I keep a couple of local locations (train station, a friendly Starbucks, etc.) stocked with fresh books for people to take. It gives me more space for the books I am constantly acquiring to read. Anyhow, last week when I went to drop off a book I finished, I found one that someone else had left one by authors my brother-in-law has been recommending to me for ages. Of course, I couldn’t resist, and decided to read it this weekend when I was feeling a little overwhelmed at the size of Nicholas Nickleby, my next 1001 Books group read. The authors of the book are Preston and Childs and the book is Gideon’s Sword. Apparently, many fans of the authors didn’t like this one much, finding it unrealistic, but I guess I don’t have tremendously high expectations of books in the mystery/thriller genre, and take them, like I take movies of the same type, with a certain suspension of disbelief and willingness to enter into the fun. In this way, I tend to have a good time, which is what I’m reading these books for in the first place.
This book starts with the protagonist’s back story. A father working in National Security is killed after taking a hostage on his job. Later the boy’s mother reveals that the father was framed for a failure in security he had been trying to prevent via whistle-blowing, and that his death was actually a murder to cover the whole situation up. Our protagonist vows revenge and carries it out, but that is not the main plot of the book. The book revolves around the hiring of Gideon, said protagonist, to try to obtain plans for a Chinese secret weapon which are being brought to the US by a Chinese scientist. Things get ugly quickly when the Chinese scientist dies in a car crash on his trip from JFK. Gideon has to find the plans and figure out what they mean, while dealing with other shady characters along the way. There are the usual fights and chases, and lots of examples of our protagonist trying in various ways to con people into doing things they shouldn’t. The book’s critics are right. Much of this is not terribly believable, but I didn’t particularly care. And I enjoyed the battle of the backhoes that occurs late in the book (although I remember thinking that this was a concept that would work better on film than it did with me trying to visualize it from a written description). This book didn’t turn me into a P&C addict, but also didn’t convince me not to try their other books. Will I end up as big a fan of these as I am of John Sanford’s books, or even Anne Perry’s, probably not, but that is ok, I have PLENTY to read as it is, and a fun little side trip here and there is not a bad thing.