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Gideon's Corpse
by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Grand Central Publishing, $26.99, 355pp
Release Date: January 10, 2012

This is the second novel in a series from Preston/Child novels involving Gideon Crew, a nuclear physicist, who has gotten involved with the mysterious think-tank of Eliot Glinn. Glinn has been a character in several of the Pendergast novels. The first Gideon Crew novel is “Gideon’s Sword.”

In this completely can’t-put-the-book-down-for-anything tale, Gideon gets commandeered by Glinn once more, to thwart a terrorist attack on the US . They have a timeline; they have a WMD and a slew of numerous targets.

But they don’t have the terrorists.

The novel begins much like the last one—an armed stand-off, this time an ex-colleague of Crew, Reed Chalker, has taken his landlord’s family hostage claiming the government has irradiated him. He is a raving and dangerous person and Crew gets partnered with an FBI agent named Stone Fordyce to defuse the situation.

Of course this all goes to hell in a very large basket. The stand-off ends with Reed Chalker and the landlord killed, the mother wounded, the two kids rescued. And when they autopsy Chalker—they find out his raving about being irradiated was true. But who did it to him? And what was he involved in?

Crew and Fordyce are thwarted at just about every turn in their investigation by the lumbering multi-headed black ops bureaucracy that includes the FBI, the CIA, DOD, Homeland Security and every Tom, Dick and Harry with black sunglasses and an ear bud in his head.  The Feds take the over-blown jihadist trail of Chalker (a recent convert to Islam) and go crazy. Washington D.C. is evacuated. New York City is evacuated, the stock market tanks: in short the country falls apart while the behemoth of black ops lumbers around trying to figure out how to stop Armageddon in massive doses of overkill.

Of course, Gideon and Fordyce narrow down the issue and the suspects to three. The clock is ticking and even though they are under attack from unknown assassins, they are able to gather up some pertinent clues.  And just to complicate everything, while they are trying to save the country: They suddenly become the Feds top suspects, because Crew had worked with Chalker.

But who proves to be the head of the hydra of mayhem is a shock.

And even the WMD is not what it seems.

As I said above; I couldn’t put this down. It was a wonderful complex, gripping tale.  A terrific read. ~~ Sue Martin

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