In 1988, Gideon Crew was an average 12-year-old living in Washington, D.C. One day he is being driven home by his mother after a tennis lesson when motorcycle cops pull alongside their car and instruct them, “Follow us now.” When his mother asks why, they say, “National security emergency.”
Gideon and his mother are taken to INSCOM, the U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Security Command, where his father, Melvin Crew, a world-class mathematician, works. As for the emergency, his father has taken a man hostage. His wife pleads with him to release the hostage.
Law enforcement authorities promise Melvin that he would not be hurt if he lets the hostage go. Melvin releases the hostage and then yells, “I demand an investigation! Twenty-six people died!” Next, authorities promise that if Melvin comes out of the building, the investigation he seeks would be conducted. But as soon as he steps out of the doorway, he is shot. Gideon witnesses it all.
Almost 10 years later, when his mother, who became an alcoholic, is on her deathbed, she tells Gideon that his father was framed. He was analyzing a classified code for the government, she said, and told his superiors it was flawed; INSCOM nevertheless sent the code to the National Security Agency, and it was put into use.
Shortly thereafter, the Russians were able to crack the code, and as a result, 26 U.S. field agents were killed. His mother says Gideon’s father was killed to hide that secret and that Lt. Gen. Chamblee Tucker was the person responsible. She tells Gideon his father was an “an outsider, a professor, a civilian.” In her dying wish, she asks Gideon to “even the score.”
Later, Gideon, who gets a Ph.D. at MIT and works at Los Alamos, does even the score. Along the way, he demonstrates resourcefulness worthy of James Bond. He has a litany of disguises, is a computer whiz, masters hand-to-hand combat and has an acute sense of honor.
All these attributes catch the attention of Elin Ginn, of Effective Engineering Solutions Inc. This company specializes in engineering and failure analysis and has unexplained ties to the U.S. government. Gideon is asked to contact a Chinese scientist who is flying into the United States. They hope he is defecting to the United States with what they believe are plans for a secret weapon on which the Chinese have invested vast sums of money and their best scientific minds. The United States fears the weapon may be even more powerful than the hydrogen bomb.
Gideon’s assignment is to get the plans from the Chinese scientist. Gideon takes the mission only after he his told by Ginn that he is terminally ill and has a year to live. Gideon figures he has nothing to lose.
The pursuit of the scientist doesn’t go as planned, but Gideon ultimately prevails. The plot has many twists and turns, and despite his medical diagnosis, leaves an opening for future adventures with Gideon Crew.
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have co-authored a number of books, including “Fever Dream” and “The Cabinet of Curiosities.” A nonfiction book Preston wrote, “Monster of Florence,” is being made into a movie.