#Thriller Review: Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Perhaps the best thing to say about Gideon's Sword is that I'm glad Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child used it for a new character, rather than sullying the legacy of Aloysius Pendergast. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun, quick read, but it's one that doesn't bear thinking about in the meantime, or it all begins to fall apart.

Gideon has a simple backstory, laid out over two quick chapters, that opens the book with far too many embarrassing questions. One, given the sheer number of witnesses, how has nobody ever made an issue of the fact that Gideon's dad was unarmed, with his hands in the air, when he was shot? Two, what about that experience led to Gideon becoming a con artist and a professional thief? Three, why did his mother wait until she was on her deathbed to tell him everything she knew about the day his father died? Four, with his dad violently and publicly executed for treason, how the hell is it that Gideon ends up landing a job in a nuclear freakin' laboratory?

The questions don't stop there, of course. For instance, all talk of failure analysis aside, who in their right mind tasks a relatively unproven novice to play secret agent when the stakes are so high? Also, when you're given a direct line to the Director of Homeland Security to verify a shadowy organization, why don't you use that to confirm the random CIA operative who oh-so-conveniently appears? Oh, and when you're tracking what you think is a Chinese superweapon, while evading a Chinese super assassin, why do you pick a chain-smoking hooker to be your accomplice, especially when you have a real covert agent who owes you his life?

I could go on, but you get the point. So long as you don't think, and don't ask questions, there's actually a fun sort of summer blockbuster here, with a great car chase at the beginning, a nice game of cat-and-mouse in the middle, and a suitably entertaining climax at the end. In fact, given my fondness for weird history and abandoned ruins, the final set-piece of Hart Island was worth the read alone. We're talking a restricted island in the Bronx, once home to a Civil War prison camp, a psychiatric institution, a tuberculosis sanatorium, and a boys' reformatory - all of which lie abandoned, as if the inhabitants just walked away - with a potter's field cemetery that's home to over a million bodies. Holy freakin' crap, consequences be damned, I want to go exploring!

Despite it's flaws, Gideon's Sword was a fun bit of mindless entertainment. I can't say I'm intrigued enough to run right out and read Gideon's Corpse next, but I may skip the second volume of watered down Mission Impossible heroism and give the Indiana Jones homage of The Lost Island a read.

Paperback, 400 pages
Published March 24th 2015 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 2011)

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