Copyright 2011 by Gary L. Pullman
In a note at the end of their latest Aloysius Pendergast novel, Fever Dream, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child promised to debut the protagonist of a new series of thrillers, Gideon Crew. In Gideon’s Sword, they make good on their promise, introducing a younger man than Special Agent Pendergast. In his twenties, Gideon is billed (on the novel’s dust jacket) as a “trickster, prodigy,” and “master thief.” After avenging the death of his father, Gideon comes to the attention of a well-heeled private organization that hires him to, well, save the world. More specifically, his mission is to steal plans for a secret doomsday weapon from a Chinese agent who may or may not be defecting from his homeland. One thing leads to another (they way one thing should do in a thriller), and, before long, Gideon is in the company of prostitutes, call girls, female CIA agents, and others as he flees a Chinese martial arts expert-cum-assassin who is known only by the name of Nodding Crane.
It’s all good fun, but I find the plot, at times, unbelievable and, at other times, hard to believe. The characterization is fairly solid, although Gideon lacks (at this point, at least) the likeability of Pendergast. The Gideon books are apparently designed to appeal to younger-than-Pendergast novel-readers, which is all well and good, which probably explains the slightly more risqué (and sometimes crude) language, the references to prostitutes and call girls, and the double entendres (a few of which fall flat). Dialogue is not one of the authors’ particular strengths (although it is not a weakness, either), and, occasionally, what is intended to sound witty sounds more contrived than clever. Here’s an example:
“Bur Dubai Hotel is rather nice,” Mindy Jackson said as they passed through customs and headed for the taxi queue. “You owe me a stiff one.”
He spread his hands, “Drink, or . . . ?”
She colored. “Drink. A stiff drink. What a mind you have” (172).
Overall, though, the 342-page novel is exciting enough, although I wouldn’t go as far in my praise for it as those who supply the back cover’s blurbs (not all of which seem to have been written specifically for this Preston and Child novel). Would I read another Gideon Crew novel? Sure.