This is the second in the series featuring Dr. Gideon Crew, whose talents range from fine art theft to a Ph.D. in something akin to nuclear physics to physical prowess that surpass just about any human I've ever known. And while the esteemed Dr. Crew comes across in this one as a man who may have a heart behind his shoulder holster, it's just not believable enough for me to ante up more than 3 stars - the same as I gave the first book, Gideon's Sword.
This one takes off with a bang - literally- when a nuclear scientist apparently goes off the deep end, holding a family hostage and killing one of them. Turns out he's been done in by radiation, and the powers-that-be conclude that he was involved in building a nuclear bomb that will be detonated in a major American city in ten days. Of course, Gideon, a special agent when he's called upon (albeit a reluctant her - he'd much rather be fishing), is coerced into investigating, finding the culprits and preventing a disaster so big the United States might never recover.
I don't think it's a spoiler to say Crew cuts to the chase and saves the day - there's a third book in the series, after all - but the investigation takes him across the country and back to places like a religious fanatic's commune in the wild and a big-city Islamic mosque. There's plenty of action, of course, with guns blasting, fists flying and objects that go boom in the day and night. In the midst of trying to identify the bad guys and fighting them off, there's even a hint of romance. As I said before, the action parts in particular aren't very believable, but at the same time, it makes for never a dull moment.
As far as I can tell at this point, there's one more book left in the series, The Lost Island. I do plan to read it, hoping that a couple of issues left dangling in this one will be resolved (and also hoping it will be at least a cut above the first two).
Gideon's Corpse by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Grand Central Publishing, January 2012); 371 pp.