Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Lincoln Child”

TylerDFC #CBR4 Review 18 #Gideon’s Corpse by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

There are definitely draw backs to being a completionist fan boy. While the duo still has a strong gold-to-crap ratio going, Preston & Child are definitely starting to lose their “must read” label for me. Maybe it’s just that they are publishing at least one book a year at this point but the output is starting to get sketchy. Gideon’s Corpse is the sequel to the 2011 Gideon’s Sword. That book was not very good, and while Gideon’s Corpse is better it is still so far fetched it’s hard to take seriously at times.

Gideon Crew is a nuclear physicist/professional thief/con man that does free lance work for Effective Engineering Solutions (shortened to EES), a sort of think tank in Manhattan, in stopping various calamities. Also he has a medical condition that is going to kill him in a year or so when his vein of Galen pops and he suffers a massive brain hemorrhage and dies instantly. This is an inoperable condition so Gideon is basically a walking dead man which makes him take risks other people probably wouldn’t.

Picking up just seconds after the end of Gideon’s Sword, Corpse immediately throws the reluctant Gideon Crew back in to the fray as he is tasked with trying to talk down a hostage taker that he happened to work with at Los Alamos. This leads in turn to the discovery that a nuclear bomb was manufactured and is going to be detonated in a US city in a matter of days.

Gideon reluctantly joins the investigation for no other reason than he knew someone involved and EES pairs him with the improbably named Stone Fordyce, an agent with the FBI. The dynamic duo heads to Los Alamos to follow up on a long shot lead and, lo and behold, end up pulling a thread that gets the bad guys hot on their trail. They frame Gideon and soon he is on the run trying to piece together who is behind the attack and how to stop it.

The first half of Corpse is kind of silly but enjoyable. I was less enthused when Gideon goes on the run because the interplay between him and the FBI agent was entertaining.  At one point the duo take a break from the investigation and Gideon makes them dinner at his cabin near Los Alamos and they listen to jazz and chat through the night. I swear I thought they were going to have sex and thought to myself “This is an intriguing development.” Alas, a same sex romance would have been an unconventional choice and this book is anything but that. The boys keep it as a platonic bromance although the frame up on Gideon definitely complicates their friendship.

All thrillers need an 11th hour twist and this one is a doozy. I won’t ruin it here but the twist made my suspension of disbelief completely stop and for the last 50 pages or so I read with complete detachment from the proceedings. Towards the end, you learn one of the characters was in on it from the beginning. This was completely expected and given the conventions of the genre I suspected this character immediately after they were introduced. However, the book is written in third person shifting between a few different characters. I had to go back and re-read the chapters with from this hidden conspirator’s perspective because I could swear the writers cheated. How can a hidden conspirator stay hidden when the reader is privy to their thoughts? By making extremely careful word choices in describing those thoughts. I still think it was a bit of a cheat, but it is a testament to Preston & Child’s skills that they made it work. But just barely.

The Pendergast series is the flagship brand for Preston & Child, but even it is getting a bit long in the tooth. This winter sees the publication of Two Graves, the finale of the so called Helen Trilogy. Once upon a time, the writers had a pretty good size group of characters to write about in the Pendergast series but over the years most of them were killed off.  I think the Gideon Crew series is an attempt to have a series that is not so interwoven and dark as the Pendergast series. In doing so, the result is so light it reads more like a script treatment than an actual novel.

Gideons Corpse is better than the first novel in the series but that is damning it with faint praise. Unless you are also a Preston & Child fan boy like myself there is really no reason to give this one your time. This is Thriller 101 stuff and even the hilarious and logic shattering conclusion isn’t enough to recommend it.

TylerDFC #CBR4 Review#3 Deep Storm by Lincoln Child

I’m a big fan of the thrillers from Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Of their solo careers, Preston edges out Child for me. I’ve had Deep Storm on my To Read list for a while because I read everything by these guys whether great (Thunderhead), good (Still Life With Crows), and bad (Gideon’s Sword). I’m happy to say that Deep Storm edges on to the top end of the Good spectrum. It’s not earth shattering in any way but it is a very fast moving and fun sci-fi thriller that can be read start to finish on a long flight or a slow weekend at home. Sometimes that’s really all  I’m looking for. Deep Storm benefits from an economy of writing that doesn’t bother with dialogue or scenes that do not in some way add to the plot. This is a pure potboiler and nicely satisfying.

A signal has been discovered coming from beneath the ocean floor by an oil rig in the seas off Iceland. Two years later a massive and top secret joint venture between the United States military and National Oceanic Agency researchers has been launched to investigate the source of the signal. 2 months in to the dig and the workers are coming down with all manner of physical and neurological symptoms. Enter Dr. Peter Crane, a former Navy officer and an expert in the field of deep pressure ailments. He is brought in by the head of the NOA, Dr. Asher, to determine the cause of the ailments. So within the first 20 pages Peter is on his way down 2 miles below the ocean surface to the facility called Deep Storm. It doesn’t take long for Peter to see the bizarre and varied symptoms of the crew first hand, receive some dire warnings, make enemies with the hard-ass Commander Korolis, and learn that what Deep Storm is digging toward may very well spell the end of our planet.

The story twists and turns with revelation after revelation that I’m not about to spoil here. If you are a fan of adventure thrillers than you should find Deep Storm to be an enjoyable read. There is just enough science and history to make you feel like you are learning something even while the story starts becoming more focussed on action, narrow escapes and increasingly nutty revelations. The epilogue, which could easily be the denouement in an episode of the Twilight Zone, is silly but worked for me.

Deep Storm is one of those books that you will read, like, and a year later only vaguely remember. I finished it on Thursday night and had to have it in front of me to remember some of the characters names while I wrote this. You are not going to be listing it on a Top 100 favorites list but for whiling away the hours on a long commute or a couple of lunch hours it does the trick just fine.

Reading Now: Darkness, Take My Hand-Dennis Lehane
On Deck: One of Our Thursdays is Missing – Jasper Fforde, The Black Dahlia-James Ellroy

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