the character Gideon was full of promise. Brilliant revenge can make for a sharp, page turning, uplifting story. But i think the authors fell short of their abilities. Certainly it's fun but the reader often has to suspend their intelligence. Gideon engages in highly risky and uncertain actions, when vastly simpler methods exist to achieve the same objective. UsuallyLee and Child's craft scenarios that have realistic contraints forcing the protaganist into difficult and critical situations. But in Gideon's Sword, the pretext for the contraints are weak at best. Usually just a request by Gideon's employer. But Gideon's uniqueness and strength is that abides by no rule but follows a higher moral code. I feel like the book was rushed to market and needed another major re-write so that most of the action sequences could be justified through a more thoughtful plot foundation.
A weak and helpless child watches as his father is killed and family name ruined; at his mother tells him on her death bed that his father was a patriot, honest, courageous and his alleged treason plus shooting was really a murder all created to provide a certain U.S. general with a scapegoat for a bad decision.
Gideon spends the next 10 years mastering his independence of people and entanglements earning his doctorate in applied physics while also secretly engaging in 2nd tier art museum theft for the his own appreciation needs and to fund his education and revenge expense, After graduating he gets a job as a junior scientist at Los Alamos helping make the next generation of nuclear bombs; he pursues trout fishing and planning to avenge his father's scapegoating and murders. Early in the book, he gets an information break with his 24/7 homemade, survelilance and hacking software- pursues and executes his revenge plan which with only one hiccup that is resolved in his favor due to the integrity of maybe his newest friend is completed successfully and he's back fishing.
Gideon's revenge is not the focus of the book, but really the calling card that gets him recruited into an alleged, private think tank and operations group run by its founder and enigmatic, mysterious man. The group allegedly provides contract services for U.S. federal agencies. the plot would be of interest to a multitude of federal agencies, but supposely it's all been contracted to this private company. There's no foundation for why this group is undertaking the assignment which become's the novel's primary plot. Gideon is clearly manipulated, by carrot, stick and everything between to pursue, versus turning down, his chosen assignment but he verfiy's his employer's legitamacy with nothing but a phone call- which is completely out-of-character for Gideon who is something of a "chestmaster" of field operations, That makes no sense. The nation's, perhaps world's balance of power is now in jeopardy, but rather than use official channels to recover some evidence in the evidence locker, Gideon must use his cunning to secret himself in and recover the information. There are lots of these small things that make the story less enjoyable. He's not to tell his mission to anyone. But he knows a certain person is at risk. Despite is brilliant and proven street smarts that let's him handle himself in the worst slums, and burned out buildings of Harlem, and his rocket scientist I.Q...is doesn't dawn on him to invent an altternative story that could equally communicate the danger. Moreover, the level of deception and intrigue in the novel makes his phone call verification a trivial effort at best. The author's had time to build a character team around Gideon, but I think dropped the ball. He leave's his first book with one technogeek friend, whose character is only a 1/4 as interesting as others that I can't discuss for giving too much away.
Overall the obsurdity of Gideon's stupidity deflates his character. Even so, Preston and Child's collaboration still makes for a fun, page turner that I am glad I read (listened to).
I read a lof of other American and English fiction series' featuring former or current CIA operatives, snipers, rangers, seals etc. I like Nathan's and Harv's characters and their supporting characters, Holly, the Senator etc. I even look forward to Nathan and Harv's next adventure. That said, I hope Peterson steps back into reality. Oddly I listened to this in the same week that I read David Baldacci's The Innocent which also pairs up an "operative" with a young girl in danger among potential corrupt law enforcement. Peterson's very good at putting together action scenes and suspense, but his contrivances to achieve the circumstances of each action sequence are nothing short of embarrassingly stupid. I won't be a spoiler; clearly his first duty is to protect his young charge from harm. But for the flimsiest reasons-at least at the first 1/2,- he exposes her to insane and intellectually unnecessary risks. Ultimately, Peterson introduces two reasons to pursue the bad guys with a sense of urgency. But even the climatic end is wrapped in this ridiculousness. The situation is temporarily stabilized and a climatic rendezvous between good and bad is planned- the planned meet is the stabilizing factor. But does this successful business man, sniper, operative give himself 2 extra hours which would allow him to keep the girl absolutely safe and have professional back-up, or does he plow ahead and use a child as his only support? Obviously the latter option is more thrilling, but idiotic. Sorry Peterson, but if Baldacci’s a 9 on a score of 1 to 10, you get score a 4. P.S. I though Dick Hill did a great job with the child's voice!
Headline sums it up. The disappointment stems from my poor choice, or poor labeling of this fiction. However, it intrigued me enough to see it through to the end. The thriller part is less obviously less researched and expert than top sellers in that genre. The story and back-stories are entertaining, I just wished Brockmann was more researched in special ops or collaborated on this. I actually enjoyed the romances. I see she's written a series of these romance thrillers based on the same characters, I hope book 2 is stronger, because I like the core characters. In terms of prose, Brockmann is 5 on a ten point scale.
I couldn't acquire the first title in the Hawke series, so I began Assassin hoping for something as gripping as other genre serials such as Vince Flynn's, Alex Berensen's, Andrew Peterson's or John Gilstrap's. If Assassin is accurate harbinger of what to expect with the remaining novels, I can expect to be modestly entertained, but not gripped. Also some my enjoyment arises from the authors constant development of the ridiculous like a Batman story, but unfortunately with the obvious intention of being straight-laced thriller. Except for the tights, Hawke is very much like Batman. He's extremely rich: apparently one of the richest men in England and has ample resources tools and sophisticated toys to fight evil; his parents were murdered by villains when he was a child; and the family's butler undertook raising him as a major role. But Batman wouldn't want to encounter his Lordship Hawke, since Hawke's hand-to-hand combat skills are unrivaled, he can out wrestle a killer 450 lb Sumo wrestler even while enduring the pain of broken ribs.
Thank God the U.S. President is his buddy, because even though he has the world's largest spy agency, strongest, largest and most mobile military in the world, and countless operatives, agents and spys, the U.S. is dependent on Hawke and his butler to save the world from terrorist villains. If you can put up with that- Ican- then like me, I think you'll find this book, and hopefully-series- entertaining enough. I do hope that author tightens up his writing a bit, there is far too much unnecessary descriptive narrative-not unlike a literary student trying to stretch a short story into full novel. Also a little disappointing is the thesis behind the villain's motivations. Most writers in this genre leverage social/political truths and history and expound in a unique direction. The Geopolitical accuracy rivals 4th grader's understanding. Another example of ridiculousness is Assassin's sole mad scientist. He's apparently a world class nuclear scientist and engineer cable of single-handedly developing a mini-nuclear devices that exceed or rival those of the U.S. while also developing other weapon's systems beyond the technical prowess of the West's combined private and political resources. On top of that ,It turns out that he's also a cutting edge bio-engineer as well.
Great story and writing. I've often wondered if the thriller hero could ever be a truly ordinary person in skills, equipment and resources. Steinhauer answered my question with a resounding, "yes." Although Milo Weaver's CIA tech resources aren't much more than can be found in Radio Shack and his talents and intelligence aren't extraordinary, one third through the book i was spellbound. This is not just a riveting story, Steinhauer either accidentally or intentionally changes the readers perspective maximizing the book's emotional drama. I think Steinhauer may manipulate the reader as well as he writes providing the reader with profoundly thrilling experience. Moreover, he adds far more depth to Milo's"civilian" side than most of our "dark-humble-thriller-heros." Initially, I was motivated to turn the next page to catch up to Milo, then once caught, a perspective bigger than Milo envisions emerges giving us glimpses into the diabolical intrigue awaiting our protagonist letting the reader actively bring the clues together to formulate the conspiracy afoot, versus spoon feeding us the plot. For those who don't work on guessing the underlying plot, it is soon revealed by the author. But Milo''s way out and any solution remains seemingly impossible. Tiny clues provided by the author though out the story give life to deeper dimension and storyline. The book stands easily on its own even though it's the first of a trilogy. I didn't have that unfinished feeling a cliffhanger provides, but I was so enamored with Milo, I couldn't wait to get to the next one.
I am ardent reader of black ops type suspense, and only recently ran across Vince Flynn's cast of characters revolving around Mitch Rapp.. If you enjoy this genre, Flynn will delight you. He grabs you in the first few pages, and never resorts to super human capabilities to resolve an obstacle. The only "reach" is perhaps how Mitch was recruited which is detailed in American Assassin. Flynn's series is not always written in chronological order. His plots are carefully planned to avoid putting at risk characters we know have survived for inclusion in future cases. I enjoy most of the top authors in this genre, but Flynn is easily in the top three in my view. He doesn't slip in excess political rhetoric like so many of his professional brethren. Mitch is exceptionally skilled, but his feats appear far more realistic and just as exciting as any other modern fiction black op action heros. His friends and cohorts are all on the realistic side, he has access to intelligence sources that are well known within this genre, but he doesn't have access to unrealistic computer programmers that can accomplish anything to resolve the plots challenges, or billionaire friends with access to any politician. Flynn has made him well rounded and challenged by the same things that challenge all of us from time to time: judgement, incompetence, weak willed leaders.
Transfer of Power is my 4th Rapp book, and in my view it's 2nd to American Assassin. Unlike the other three books, there's not as much character development except for what's necessary for the story. And like the other three books that I've read, Flynn's character development is brilliant, we learn each main character's proclivities and personalities through their actions keeping us fully engaged, but by the midpoint, we can easily anticipate how the each will respond- with valor, or self-interest, intelligence or stupidity, cunning or deceipt; and we feel pulled into the drama trying to help Rapp, his bosses, and his few friends best negotiate through both literal and figurative minefields to keep America safe.
Nick Sullivan was outstanding
The story is good read. not a great listen...the reading is 2nd rate The recording kept picking up background conversation. Sounds like it was recorded in a studio with muliple readers and sound resistant versus sound proof walls. Unlike so many action adventures, this author has come up with realistic scenarios that employ state of the art special forces type missions in the U.S. Also explores realistic interpersonal relationships, nice character building allowing average people to make choices to either become extraordinary or mediocre due to circumstances outside of their control. My favorite part is a not-in-your-face minor exploration of the criminal justice system- showing how inappropriate it is for dealing with serious crime. The author has fun with a slightly guilt-damaged former FBI superstar-turned town sheriff. Sheriff's former stick-to-the-book versus common sense attitude resulted in death of twin girls. Her unresolved angst puts her on the hunt for two heros who adhere to a higher order: protecting the innocent, common sense and decency; she's unaware that her inner pysche must have her destroy these two, or face up to her own fears- that her guilt will destroy her. The villain-Greed is personsified by a triumvarte led by a torture & mutililation loving, ex-cammando supportd by an unholy alliance between an ultra-extreme eco-terrorists/civilian paramilitary force and right-wing U.S. weapons manufacturer providing highly illegal" WMDs to the U.S and terrorist nations. I have a low tolerance of gore and cruelty- the author got the point across without overload. The author entertainingly builds to no-way out climax showing that even highly invested-in characters are expendable.. The eve of the climax, presents a cammando style battle scenario, but it's a no-win for our heros- neither death, nor success will get them out of the hole they find themselves in.
Pendergast is one of my favorite characters of contemporary suspense fiction, and we get to see both angles, and depths of his nature not yet seen. Brilliant. Additionally, a new nemesis enters the fray and the authors again pull of the change of perspective that they seem to master. The once nemesis of deepest, vilest cunning, criminality and lack of morality becomes a victim and protagonist of sorts. They briliantly weave agent Pendergast's ward into the plot and providing more clues to her seemingly supernatural past. Only disappointment was I didn't realize that this was three book series, now I have to wait another year.
I wanted to try out a new author and this was recommended. What a mistake. I'm an avid reader of the special forces, black ops, elite FBI operations team thriller novels. The author here works within no realistic constraint. For instance, one of the FBI's most critical, and largest rural sieges perhaps ever is subject to two unofficial protagonists backing up the field teams as both commandos and snipers. The reader is supposed to believe that the FBI using all of the tools in its electronic arsenal cannot detect them. Moreover is why their there. The nation's former multi-administration FBI director's grandson goes missing in an undercover assignment, and despite being able to ask for special help from any and all federal agencies, he calls on two middle aged, former commandos, now businessmen running an alarm and security company. Need I go on? The author's descriptive prose is average, or a little better than that and follow's a tried and true action formula keeping us turning those pages, but you really have to turn down your I.Q. to enjoy this.
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