cover image Gideon's Sword

Gideon's Sword

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Grand Central, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-446-56432-8

Preston and Child's first in a new thriller series falls short of their usual high standard. In 1996, eight years after 12-year-old Gideon Crew saw his father, an employee of the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command, fatally shot outside his father's Arlington, Va., office, his mother tells him the truth about the killing on her death bed. The older Crew was made the scapegoat for the deaths of 26 spies for the U.S. the Russians caught as a result of a flaw in a new intelligence encryption standard he discovered but higher authority ignored. In the present, Gideon's quest for revenge takes a backseat to an assignment from shadowy Effective Engineering Solutions (introduced in 2001's The Ice Limit), whose people succeed in recruiting Gideon to steal plans for what might be a new Chinese megaweapon from a defecting scientist. That tired and predictable story line isn't helped by a protagonist lacking the quirks of the authors' popular series hero, FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast. (Feb.)