Sunday, November 23, 2008

“The Whole Truth”, by David Baldacci (Pan Macmillan)


The master of the genre delivers a terrifying global thriller that could have been ripped straight out of today’s paranoid headlines.

Once again David Baldacci has delivered a novel that will keep you up all night reading, as the action pulls you on. The novel focuses on Nicholas Creel (billionaire CEO of Ares Corporation, the largest arms manufacturer in the world) and the one-named Shaw (an international intelligence operative). Creel is on a mission to boost the flagging arms trade by inciting paranoia on the international stage, bringing the world to the brink of a potential Great Power war. With the help of Dick Pender (a leading purveyor of “Perception Management”), Creel starts rumours and innuendo suggesting Russia is regressing ever-so-quickly back to the bad old Soviet Union days, then plants the blame for these rumours on China's doorstep.

Shaw, in the employ of a global security organisation, spends his time around the globe disrupting terrorists and other anarchic, nefarious plots. Joined by Katie James, the young, disgraced, Pulitzer Prize-winning, recovering-alcoholic journalist, the two of them find themselves drawn into Creel and Pender’s web of lies and deception, with the mission taking on a particularly personal nature for Shaw about half-way through the novel.

Baldacci’s writing continues to both inspire and amaze me. Not only has he been doing this for a considerable length of time, but he is able to create and write characters that are never boring, always believable, and also complex. Creel, for example, is a corporate titan who makes his living in the industry of mass-death, but equally gives plenty to charity and the underprivileged (making it hard to hate him). The cast of The Whole Truth are different from Baldacci’s established characters – Oliver Stone and the Camel Club, and also former Secret Service agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell. His plotting is as tight as ever, each chapter giving the reader just enough to force them on to the next, and then the next, and so on. That his subject matter is also international relations was particularly interesting to me. His grasp of the current global climate is impeccable, and this comes across through this most-believable (though gloomy) premise.

Baldacci’s The Whole Truth is a tour-de-force of international intrigue, espionage, corporate greed and manipulation. It will grip you from the very first page. Fifteen novels into his career, Baldacci shows no signs of slowing down or losing his edge. Simply superb.

For Fans of: Brad Thor, Daniel Silva, Vince Flynn, Kyle Mills, Christopher Reich, David Isaak, Tom Clancy

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