This is the first book featuring Dr. Gideon Crew, whose mission in life is to avenge the murder of his father, who was made a scapegoat by the U.S. government as a result of an unsuccessful intelligence project. Because I'm a fan of both authors (singularly and collectively), when I got a chance to get all three books in the series at a super price, I jumped on it - even though of the 440 reviews of the first one at Amazon.com (at the time of this writing), 213 were one and/or two stars.
Here's the deal: A renegade through and through, Crew is offered a job with a private contractor that involves finding a Chinese scientist who is supposedly sneaking plans for a deadly weapon into the United States. Apparently, someone else wants what the scientist has as well, and in an early-on melee, the scientist ends up dead. But that's not before he passes on a string of numbers to Crew, who tries to save him. Now, the race is on to find out what those numbers mean.
Now that I've finished the book, I understand why many of the ratings are so low. The action is almost nonstop - with gruesome murders happening at every turn. But that's not necessarily a good thing; much of the action involves such super-human efforts that it's just not believable. Perhaps worse, speed seems to have replaced quality; the characters aren't very well developed. Crew himself fares a little better in that regard, though I won't go so far as to call him likable.
All those issues aside, it really wasn't that bad; the ending set up a scenario for the next one, Gideon's Corpse, and yes, I still plan to read it - if only to see if the characters are better fleshed out and some of the over-the-top wild action gets tamed.
Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Grand Central Publishing, February 2011); 356 pp.