Gideon’s Sword by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Gideon Crew is 12 years old when he accompanies his mother down to Arlington Hall station, where his father works for INSCOM, The United States Army Intelligence and Security. His father is holding hostages. When the hostages are let go Gideon and his mother watch as Gideon’s father is gunned down.
Gideon goes to the hospital to see his dying mother. After years of drinking herself into oblivion, her liver is failing. Gideon hasn’t spent a lot of time with his mother. He’s been too wrapped up in his own life. His mother tells of him of his father’s job vetting the government project named Thresher. Against the advice of Gideon’s father, the NSA signed off on the flawed project. Several months later the Russian government cracked it. General Chamblee Tucker was in charge of the Thresher project and he saw to it that Gideon’s father was set up as the scapegoat for the disaster. When Gideon’s father tried to take the information public he was assassinated. After she tells him the tale, Gideon’s mother asks him to “even the score” and “do to Tucker what he did to your father.” These were his mother’s last words.
A decade later we meet up with Gideon again. He is now in his 30s and he works on “The Hill” at Los Alamos National Lab. Everything Gideon has done for the last decade has been done with the design of putting him in a position to fulfill his promise to his mother; the promise of seeking revenge for his father’s death by bringing General Tucker down. His job gives him access to necessary information that he needs to accomplish this. When Gideon finally locates the memo his father wrote criticizing Thresher and advising against it, his revenge comes to fruition.
Now that Gideon has fulfilled the goal he’s spent the last decade devising, he is in limbo, wondering what’s next in life. He is recruited by Eli Glinn, who works for an organization called Effective Engineering Solutions, to carry out a sensitive mission. EES wants Gideon to intercept a Chinese scientist who is defecting to the United States. The scientist carries top secret information that could be important to the U.S. government. They believe this is information on the development of a new weapon. Gideon has perfected many arts over the years and they believe he is just the man for the job.
Indeed, Gideon does have some experience that will be put to good use. We learn that he used to be an art thief and as he undertakes this new job, we watch him artfully change personas again and again. He knows the art of a con and uses social engineering to his advantage. He knows people in the right places to get necessary information that he isn’t getting from his employers. Gideon is a survivor but it will take everything he is to survive this mission.
I’ve been a fan of the Preston and Child writing duo for a long time. I love their FBI Special Agent Pendergast series. The Pendergast character and his sidekicks have been artfully built throughout each of the books. I would even venture to say that Pendergast and his dastardly brother are two of the most intriguing characters featured in modern day thrillers. Additionally, I have read and enjoyed each author’s solo works. These authors always flesh out the landscape of their books, giving us a tidbits of great historical background on New York and other locales. This new series is not an exception. Gideon’s Sword is the first book in the Gideon Crew series and introduces a character that is young, clever and resourceful. This book had a well-written, fast-paced story-line that put me in mind of watching a one of those adventure movies like Die Hard. I look forward to seeing where these authors take Gideon’s character in the rest of the series.