on April 27, 2003
When struggling writer Carl Granville is approached by a successful editor at the funeral of his agent he is excited to learn that she has a project in mind for him, if he chooses to accept it. She wants him to ghost-write a fictional novel based on real events that will potentially earn him a fortune. The only problem is that she wants it done fast. Real fast. He will have to turn a series of diaries, letters and articles into explosive fiction within just a few weeks. Carl accepts.
However, within a few days, Carl begins to get uneasy. He's not entirely comfortable with what the diaries are disclosing - in effect, the murder of a small child - and is unsure whether he really wants to continue. But then, two people close to Carl and brutally murdered, including the editor who originally approached him, and Carl, with no evidence at all to support his claims and no alibi, finds himself to be the prime suspect. Carl quickly realises that he's in great danger...there's someone out there who doesn't want this book written, and they're prepared to go to grave lengths to ensure that it isn't...
Excellent thriller. That's really all I can say. Human characters, great writing, and an absolute snake of a plot. It twists and turns and shocks in ways that would make Jeffery Deaver proud. The plot is original enough, and adds a nice twist to the accepted "innocent-man-on-the-run" formula. The protagonist is a wonderful every-man, and very easy to like. I can only applaud this tense, exciting thriller from the pen of David Handler and Peter Gethers. It's very rare that books written by two people actually work, but Gideon is certainly one of the exceptions. This book should please all thriller fans, and I'm very much looking forward to reading "Icarus", which sounds equally thrilling...
on November 25, 2002
This is the kind of book a good thriller fan devours. "Gideon" is one of the most suspenseful, intricate, and chilling novels I've read in a long time. Without going into a rehash of the plotline, suffice to say Russell Andrews has woven a tale of deception, intrigue, murder, betrayal, you name it..it's in there!
The novel opens with a mysterious suicide, and then goes on in so many different directions, your head spins. But it's done so well, you can't help but get involved. The characterizations, I think, rather than being cliche, are wonderfully original. Take the hero, Carl Granville...he's so desperate he gets into something he knows very little about. But once he gets fully involved, he takes the bull by the horns and as any good hero would do, he sticks it out and comes out just fine in the end.
Momma One Eye is beautifully drawn. Although she's not in the novel a lot, her presence is so essential, you can almost hear her chanting her psalms. Then we have Harry Wagner, a very different villain...cold-hearted of course and irreprehensible, but there's a softness in him that makes you like him, just a little. And then, of course, there's President Tom Adamson and his wife, Elizabeth. Now here we have a different take on the president and his wife. Tom Bickford, the vice president, stricken with Bell's palsy; Amanda Ways, Carl's ex-girlfriend who finds herself getting involved; Toni, the would-be actress who lights up Carl's life briefly; The Closer, a cold-hearted villain that you can't find ANY good in; Father Patrick Jennings, a priest who hears a horrifying confession; Nora Adamson, the president's mother, whose one scene is riveting; on and on, throughout, this novel cooks, and has some real shockers in it, too.
Wow, this book blew me away.
on July 19, 2002
Carl Granville is a talented young writer, living in NY, struggling to get his first book published. When his agent dies, he surprisingly is approached by any writer's dream agent who has an interesting propostion for him. He will be given someone's secret diary and he will fictionalize it within 3 weeks. A guard will accompany the installments of the original manuscript to ensure that Carl does not copy it and at the same time, deliver the finished fictionization to the agent. For doing this, Carl receives $50k up front, $50K when he finishes and the guarantee that his first book be published and seriously marketed. Carl readily accepts, burning the midnight oil to fulfill his end of the deal, but when his new agent and a female neighbor mysteriously end up dead, Carl finds himself out on a limb from which he cannot possibly survive, as he is thought to be and labeled by the media a serious killer on a mission.
It is----but sadly, once the actual diary is read and transformed into Carl's manuscript, the killings are executed and Carl has no where to run, the book just loses steam fast. Suddenly the interesting premise transmogrifies into formula--Carl's ex-girlfriend (conveniently a Wash. Post journalist) becomes involved and the reader follows the actions of a ring of outsiders whose histories eventually tie together to lead to the plot's denouement. Problem is, it is just too formula to be fresh and lead to disappointment even when reading the book's most startling revelations.
I picked this book up after reading this writing teams' latest offering, "Icarus". Although, I found "Icarus" to be a moderate-to--superior suspense type yarn, I expected Gideon to be better based on its reviews. I was disappointed.
on July 8, 2001
"Gideon" gets off to a good start, quickly paced and roller coaster fast. The reader's interest is speedily engaged in the "who is this happening to and why?" Somewhere around page 150, the book becomes a chore. The writing and pace become uneven and dead spots occur with more and more frequency.
The collaboration between Peter Gethers and David Handler doesn't seem to gel and become seamless. Sometimes I had the feeling I was reading a rough draft. It is difficult to accept a hero whose nickname is "Granny" and all that word implies. One of the two "deadly" assassins is an overweight, not-to-bright rogue ex-cop whose main concern seems to be furious bigotry. We are expected to believe the richest, most powerful man in the world could do no better in the assassin market than to select this dim bulb. The choice of victims is ludicrous. Those that are truly dangerous to the powerful man's schemes are overlooked in favor of innocents who have only the most tangential connection with the plot. The surprises are telegraphed so far in advance that the only person still in the dark is the hero.
There are curious lapses, as if the fact checker took a holiday. How often can one draw $1000 from one ATM machine? Why is a broken down Subaru with DC plates entirely invisible to police and FBI?
The strongest element of "Gideon" is the following of clues as the hero and his ever-loyal former girl friend get closer and closer to the answers. Their odyssey through the Deep South is well done, particularly a chapter dealing with what has to be the ultimate Elvis Presley fans.
"Gideon" has it moments; there are just not enough of them.
on April 30, 2001
Carl Granville is a struggling New York City-based writer who has just received a most precarious offer. He is contracted by top editor Maggie Peterson to turn the contents of a top-secret diary into an instant work of fiction. She mentions that this is a rush job of the highest order ("the kind of thing we usually save for terrorist attacks, wars, or dead royalty"), and once the secret manuscript is finished, it could literally change the course of history. Carl is not told who the diary belongs to, just that the real owner wishes to remain anonymous and will be known simply as "Gideon". He is instructed to speak to no one about the project (including Maggie who says officially he does not exist) and is not permitted to ask any questions about the confidential information that will be fed to him. In return for his silence, Carl will be paid six-figures and have one million copies of his ghost-written book printed.
Soon after Carl decides to take on the project, Maggie Peterson is murdered, and when he decides to come clean about the Gideon project (in an effort to cooperate with the authorities) he is told that there is no record of him or his project ever existing. That's when more people start dying and Carl becomes the prime suspect in all the murders. The only person he can trust is his ex-girlfriend, journalist Amanda Mays, who has her own doubts about becoming personally involved with Carl again after a rather stormy relationship. Soon they are both thrown into a world of murder, greed and politics as they go underground to catch the real killers before Carl is caught himself.
Interestingly, Russell Andrews is a pseudonym for the writing duo of Peter Gethers and David Handler. Gideon is their first team effort and it is an exciting one. The book serves up an endless series of twists and turns that unravel over an exhausting 8 days. Just when you think you have things figured out, the author(s) throw another curve ball your way. This is a sharp novel will keep you awake and guessing until the very end. I also enjoyed pondering the present day implications of this plot. The truth behind the world shattering secret is all too possible in today's high tech information hungry society.
Four stars because it missed the truly gifted mark ever so slightly...the ending was a bit bland when compared to the roller coaster ride Andrews provides between the covers, and the identity of the "Closer" was not very imaginative. These minor details notwithstanding, this is definitely worth a buy.
on October 28, 2000
This release by a two-headed author (Peter Gethers and David Handler)
is a thriller of many layers. Perhaps too many for one to write a
short, succinct review that is yet intelligible.
Carl Granville is
a wannabe novelist living in New York. His ex-girlfriend is Amanda
Mays, deputy metro editor at a major Washington, DC rag. His brand new
girlfriend of one night is Toni, an aspiring actress who lives
upstairs. Carl is hired by Maggie Peterson, the rapacious editor of a
New York publishing house, to ghostwrite a novel based on memoirs
obtained from a high-level Washington source named GIDEON. By
necessity, Gideon's identity must remain secret. Carl must crank
the book out in three weeks, writing from notes made from examining
original material brought in daily by a gun-toting heavy, then taken
away. Carl soon realizes that his book will be the vehicle to expose a
horrific incident in someone's past. However, within a week of
starting, Carl's apartment is ransacked, and his fledgling creation
stolen....With clues remembered by Carl from the original source
material, both flee to Mississippi, pursued by an efficient assassin
named The Closer, to seek an answer to the Gideon riddle. Implicated
in the conspiracy is the President of the United States. (Well, hey,
what modern day Chief Executive isn't at the heart of one sort of
conspiracy or another?) And above everything, seemingly pulling all
the strings, is a power hungry, international media mogul. (Sure, why
not. Let's give Bill Gates the day off on this one.) Whew!
last 100 pages of this 466-page paperback, I was prepared to award 3
stars. The characters are well drawn, the action tightly paced, and
the plot reasonably ingenious, but not more so than in many other
potboilers on today's racks. I did like the unusual choice of the
Delta region of northern Mississippi as the location for much of the
action. (I lived in Tupelo for 15 months, and not much happens in that
region - or the entire state for that matter - except kudzu vine.)
However, the let's-kiss-and-make-up interaction between Carl and
Amanda was old hat. (For a change, how about two ex-lovers hating each
other even more by the end of a forced alliance. Now, that would be
different!) But then came the double-take plot twists, especially the
completely unexpected identity of The Closer. So, by the last page, I
had to polish up another star. I would have awarded 5, but the
incredibly intricate storyline was tidied up way too efficiently for
my taste. Sometimes, a few remaining hanging threads are appropriate.
on October 1, 2000
The two men author team, Peter Gethers & David Handler, are very creative, gifted, and skilled individuals when it comes to the art of writing. I felt that the book was extremely strange. After reading the first one hundred pages of this novel, you think to yourself what the heck are these people talking about when they say the name GIDEON. Well, at first I was turned off from the book because the story seemed so unreal (a struggling author who gets asked to write a book secretly for a strange hit man and his editor, who later gets murdered), but I finished the whole thing! The ending and how it tied together was not what I thought was going to happen after all. I love the cover of this novel, it draws the eye to it immediately and that's what made me buy it. Overall, I would say if you want to read something different than the orginal "serial killer on the loose" novels, then this is your kind of book. Don't mistake me it is a good book, but it just doesn't appeal to me.
on September 27, 2000
Granville's a poor, struggling writer, a man who still carries a torch for his One True Love - a woman he lost, apparently forever, a couple of years ago.
These are facts which are given you in the first few pages, so you just know this book's going to have a happy ending.
Granville is asked by a predatory publisher / editor to novelise a heavily censored diary... and, after a couple of weeks intensive work, our hero notices that there are a few corpses piling up - and various members of the constabulary are pointing the finger at him.
He goes on the run: a defenceless, gentle, confused man, pitted against the forces of evil. And all the preconceived notions I had about this book flew right out the window.
See - I thought it was going to be a cliche. And, in a number of ways, it is. But cliches wouldn't become cliches unless they were apt, pithy, easily understood, and fun. And that's "Gideon".
A complex plot, which is skillfully written to be easily understood. A Galahad-type hero, with the unattainable Lady Faire. A truly sinister set of evil-doers, who must be vanquished by their innocent foes.
This book has it all. And it delivers them with panache, style, wit, a certain tongue-in-cheekedness (!) and a joie de vivre that'll have you celebrating the fact that you've just read a damn' good story.
Excellent story-telling, well-crafted writing, heroes you'll root for, villains you'll love to hate. It's a conspiracy thriller, a political yarn, a story that Ludlum would have loved to write. Unfortunately, of course, Ludlum can't write, so he didn't.
Good yarn. Buy it.
on September 3, 2000
I decided to purchase this book while waiting in the airport . Ten days later I am still asking myself "Why?" I read it from cover to cover and waded through the gore and sexual encounters only to wonder "What was the point?" If you enjoy violence and meaningless sex, then this book may be for you. However, if you lean towards taut and well written plots that make sense then you probably will want to pass. There are plot holes big enough to drive a truck through. Namely, why did the first two individuals have to die? The "heavy" that was brought in to perform the job did not have to send a message to the family. They were quite aware of the danger and were keeping their mouths shut. And speaking of the "heavy" that did the job, do you really believe that a person could be black-mailed to do this kind of work because of sexual oreintation? Please! Especially when you consider who was black-mailing the individual. Next, why did the next individual have to be bludgeoned? A loyal subject who did not threaten to reveal the mystery does not make sense. One minute this indiviual is orchestrating the "Gideon" project the next their head is caved in. Why! You won't find out from reading the book. Next, why did the project suddenly stop and the killing spree begin? For ratings? Please! Another disposable character is then taken to an apartment and shot in the face and murdered. Have you ever heard of identification by means of fingerprints(with an "i")? I'm sorry, that was for the "frame-up" sub-plot. Silly me. Seems the protagonists were nearly perfect in their anticipation of Carl Granville's actions and yet they still could not stop him from causing their their insidious plot to un-ravel. So Carl and Amanda stumble through the deep South trying to find out who Gideon is. The have an idea who this information is tied to but seemingly cannot recognize that the mother of the main character wrote a book about her experiences that would have led them right to where they needed to go. But of course, that would have kept them from meeting the Elvis Presley fans and having their lives snuffed out by the Closer. The plot problems go on and on but needless to say the book (mercifully) does come to an end and you do discover the identity of Gideon. Overall a tremendous disappointment.
P.S. The worker was incinerated by a space launch. Read comment from LLA at the bottom of page 275. Why this person had to die for the plot is beyond me.
on August 20, 2000
It took a few minutes for me to get into this book, but after that, I was hooked until the end. If you're looking for a book with a story, a book with a little romance, a book with a lot of action, and you don't mind some murder and mayhem, then this is the book for you.
The storyline was good. As I read, I tried to figure out what was going on along with the main character. I was just as confused as he was until almost at the end. The romance was just right. I don't care for books where the characters claim to be in love a day or two after meeting, and thankfully, none of that was happening here. There was romance, but it was more realistic and nicely paced. And speaking of pace, the book moved along at a nice little clip. There was always something going on, and that something was usually pretty darned interesting.
The scenes, though not described in any great detail, were described well enough to give you a sense of the characters' surroundings. The book ranked a "4" only because I thought the very end of the book was a little drawn out and preachy. Not bad, but not necessary in my opinion. In sum, I found this to be an engrossing and enjoyable read and one that I would recommend.