Monday, February 21, 2011

Thriller: How I got schooled by Preston & Child

The last thriller I read was probably the early Crichton novel Sphere, about fifteen years ago, when I was stuck in what was then the near book-free town of Yankton, South Dakota.  (The area holds many charms, but few of them literary.)  I picked it up, used and dusty, from one of those rotating wire racks stationed next to the cash register of a second-hand store. 

As I recall, the sci-fi suspense kept my mind occupied - engrossed even, at points - across miles of flatland driving through Nebraska.

Truth? I felt grateful to have found it. 

But once I hit a real bookstore, I happily reunited with my literary fiction loves.  And I never looked back.

So: What drew me to Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child's latest foray into a genre they pretty well dominate right now?  Curiosity, I suppose.  Quite a few of my friends have recommended the pair's earlier works, and I wondered what P & C's latest protagonist, Gideon Crew, might offer the genre.  And - in truth - I wondered what the genre had become over the past 15 or so years. 

True to my earlier experience, this new thriller Gideon's Sword kept my mind occupied - engrossed even, at points - and would make light work of any extended travel drudge or waiting room eternity.  For such occasions, I highly recommend it, as it reads like the souped-up hybrid of another Bourne action flick and CSI: New York.  Although I admittedly have zero points of recent reference for contemporary adult thrillers (may I safely compare this to The Hunger Games and such YA fare? not sure), I'm giving this a qualified 3.5 of 5 stars for holding my attention and passing the time with an alacrity & intensity only occasionally marred by implausibility.

Some additional schooling: Curiously, this novel was both entertaining and unexpectedly heartening for me.  So if you're a relative novice to this genre, as I am - or if you just want a good laugh - tune in on March 2 to read my post on how Gideon's Sword schooled me in the elements of the contemporary thriller:  I think you'll find it a charming companion piece to this little review.

What'll I do?
* Check out Fulan Gong or Fulan Dafa - a form of Buddhist/Taoist exercise described winningly here - both online and, if possible, in my neighborhood.  I'm drawn to emulate the Yoda-esque Madame Chung whose all too brief appearance in the novel left me wanting more...
* Visit at least a few of the facades described here when I travel to New York City next month as most of Gideon's Sword takes place in that setting.  (If it's not too cold & snowy to gad about...)

Got a long wait coming? Get Gideon's Sword on February 22 at


(again, no affiliation with either site, nor Amazon neither)


Just the Gist
Title: Gideon's Sword
Authors: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Authors' Website:
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Publication Date: Feb. 22, 2011 (tomorrow!)
# of Pages: 352
Stars: ***+

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