Simple Genius (King & Maxwell Series)

by David Baldacci

Hardcover, 2007



Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are back, and struggling in the emotional aftermath of the events that brought them to the brink in Hour Game. Dogged by personal demons, Maxwell is agrees to treatment in a psychiatric institution, after barely surviving a violent barroom brawl. And King, to right their partnership, accepts an offer to investigate a murder in a scientific think tank named Babbage Town. Feeling cured, Michelle joins him on the case, and they penetrate this secret enclave of geniuses working to surpass the capabilities of the most sophisticated microprocessor in the world. Suddenly, the pair find themselves in a race against time to expose those who would tip the entire global power structure ... and destroy what's left of their lives.… (more)

Library's rating


½ (637 ratings; 3.5)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Talbin
Simple Genius, by David Baldacci, follows ex-Secret Service agents Sean King and Michelle Maxwell as they investigate the suspicious death of a brilliant mathematician, Monk Turing. Turing worked for a mysterious think-tank, located across a Virginia river from the CIA's Camp Peary. Turing also
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left behind a daughter, the brilliant but possibly autistic Viggie, who holds the clues to her father's mysterious death. At the same time, Michelle Maxwell is trying to come to terms with her own internal demons, which are driving her to hurt herself.

Baldacci does a good job of keeping the plot moving along. While the ultimate cause of the conspiracies traced in the book may be a little far-fetched, Baldacci sets up the books' events in such a way that everything makes sense. His characters are a bit more in-depth and realistic than many in this genre. We learn a lot about many of the characters and their motivations, especially Michelle. Overall, a quick and enjoyable read.
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LibraryThing member dekan
This would be a sequel to Split Second. I quite enjoyed it but it didn't seem to follow very well. I felt like i missed a book in between, like i was dropped into a life in the middle of a sentence. It is still an enjoyable book and good story. I was excited to see where the characters now were.
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However, they didn't really follow the personality they started with. Especially with Michelle Maxwell. I liked where the story took me, although it was a little vague. It just wasn't true to form. He tried to tie it in and did an okay job of it but it would be better if it was read seperately as an individual book. Still worth the read and interesting. He did a good job at connecting Maxwell and the other character Viggie. Which delvs into physciological and autistic issues.
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LibraryThing member marient
Former Secret Service agents turned private investigators Sean King and Michelle Maxwell have seen their lives splinter around them. Michelle lies unconscious in a hospital bed after a night of suicidal violence. Sean is forced to take on a thankless investigation into the murder of a scientist
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just inside the CIA's razor-wire fence near Williamsburg, Va. Entertaing, but not great literature.
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LibraryThing member peggyar
Like most of Baldacci's books, the plot is a little far-fetched and the characters don't seem very authentic. However, the plot moves quickly and the characters are likeable. I wish the two main characters would finally get together.
LibraryThing member clik4
Michelle Maxwell, a tough competent ex-Secret Service agent, and Sean King, a strong good-looking, connected risk taker form an unbeatable investigative team. Normally of a robust nature, Michelle is having uncharacteristic emotional problems stemming from an unconscious repressed memory. Sean
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finds work investigating the death of a mathematical genius at a Virginian think tank, coincidentally across the river from a highly secret CIA property. The reader is compulsively drawn into the discovery of an autistic young girl left alone by the death of her father: the genius Monk Turing. Sean is joined by the emotionally compromised Michelle to investigate yet another suspicious death on the grounds of the think tank. Babbage Town, modeled after Bletchley Park where code breakers worked on German transmissions during World War II, form the colonized area for a computer programming think tank, or is it?

David Baldacci weaves a complex story of intrigue with likable characters, to pull the reader though the intrigue of Washington back door politics, the CIA, questionable interrogation tactics, quantum computers, the history of Camp Peary; an unacknowledged CIA property, and psychological mysteries of the personal kind.

While the book is fiction, David Baldacci uses some interesting references to real people. Charles Babbage (a name also popping up in the movies “Rain Man” and “National Treasure”) is considered the father of the programmable computer. Alan Turing was a code breaker working in Bletchley Park and a genetic predecessor of the fictional Monk Turing. David Baldacci creates Champ Pollion, director of Babbage Town from real life Jean-Francois Champollion, a French linguist who worked on deciphering Egyptian codes. The Beale Cipher is an unsolved code believed to reveal an 1800’s buried treasure. The idea for Simple Genius originated from the Beale Cipher mystery.
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LibraryThing member Bonni208
The plot did keep my attention, but it really didn't seem like it was worthy of 530 pages. I found myself often wanting to 'fast forward,' to see what was going to happen next, skipping the history lessons.
LibraryThing member PinkLadies
I love David Baldacci. All his books that I've read are simply thrilling and full of suspense. Though "Simple Genius" is not a bad book, it's not his best. The many twists and turns, unexpected plot diversions and information on science, mathematics and history is a bit much for me.
LibraryThing member mtnmamma
ok story, could use some editing. Aurthor does't portray women very well--not realistically
reads like run of the mill popular fiction
light summer reading
LibraryThing member PaulBerauer
This is the first book I've read by the amazing prolific writer of mysteries and conspiracies David Baldacci. And while I'm usually not a huge fan of these types of books (mysteries or cheap/pulp fiction), but this one was pretty darn good.

The book follows Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, two former
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secret service agents who get hired to investigate the mysterious death of a worker at a even more mysterious company. While Sean investigates the original death, the body was found on a nearby CIA training base, Michelle struggles to deal with her inner demons and tries to join up with Sean to help him.

Overall, a pretty good book for a pulp fiction mystery. I'll admit that the twist ending (and there always is a twist) took me by surprise. Not an intellectually stimulating book or one that will win any awards, but a good read none the less.
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LibraryThing member ulfhjorr
Simple Genius was a quick, mostly enjoyable read, perfect for a light summer reading list. Overall, though, it is largely forgettable and not worth investing much time or effort in. The plot is fairly straightforward, and the plot-twists rather formulaic and easily spotted two chapters away.

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wouldn't go out of my way to recommend this book, but it's not a terrible read. Baldacci has done much better work.
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LibraryThing member kcoleman428
I love this series. This book seemed more harrowing than the last two. VERY good book, I loved how the bond between King and Maxwell is defined and tested, and how you get to see behind Michelles tough exterior. Great it!
LibraryThing member she_climber
A whole new side to Michelle Maxwell in this one, but I have to say that I still want to be her when I grow up. This was a conspiracy theorists wet dream: secret codes, secret tunnels, mystery CIA training camp, anonymous privately-funded think tank. Love the addition of Horatio Barnes, hope he
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sticks around for some later books. Speaking of which I can't wait to get to the next in the series!
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LibraryThing member reneemrobbins
This was a great mystery. The story contained enough variety to keep the story flowing without loosing interest. The only drawback was the romantic tension between two of the characters. I felt it should have either played or been left out. On a whole this was a good book that I enjoyed, with
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plenty of action and suspense.
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LibraryThing member Carl_Alves
Simple Genius stars two secret service agents turned private investigators. At the start of the novel, Michelle Maxwell, a tiny little woman who has a death wish, goes to a bar and starts a fight with the biggest guy she could find. Her partner, Sean King, checks her into a mental institution,
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convinced that she is trying to kill herself. Meanwhile, he takes a job investigating a murder at a government high tech think tank. Despite Michelle's mental incompetence, she needs to swing into action to save her partner from certain doom.

The bottom line of this novel is that it is ridiculous in so many ways. There are government conspiracies out the wazoo, each one more nonsensical that the previous one. I didn't find either of the main characters to be remotely compelling. There is a certain level of dramatic tension involved in the novel, which worked fairly well. I also liked the concept behind Babbage Town, the high tech think tank. But so much of the execution of the novel was flawed. This is one that I would recommend skipping.

Carl Alves - author of Blood Street
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LibraryThing member gruenchen
The book is full of conspiracy, but not overdone just the right amount. I found it a real page turner.
LibraryThing member kakadoo202
simple and easy to read. not sure how much of it is simply made up while other thing might be true and that would be scary.
LibraryThing member Gatorhater
Detective Dave Robicheaux is embroiled in the most harrowing and dangerous case of his career, seven young women in neighboring Jefferson Davis Parish have been brutally murdered. Clete Purcel, confront Herman Stanga, a notorious pimp and meth dealer, when Stanga turns up dead shortly after a
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fierce beating by Purcel, in front of numerious witnesses. Dave's daughter, Alafair, on leave from Stanford Law to put the finishing touches on her novel. Her literary pursuit has led her into the arms of Kermit Abeland, a celebrated novilist and his association with bestselling ex-convict author Robert Weingart, a man who uses and discards people like Kleenex. Causes Dave to fear that Alafair might be destroyed by the man she loves.
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LibraryThing member justicefortibet
Sean King & Michelle Maxwell, hired by someone unknown, are sent to a secret site across the river from another secret site, to solve the mystery of one and then multiple murders. I could tell you about it but then I'd have to kill you.
LibraryThing member Castledweller
Baldacci never fails to give a good read - especially when it takes place around the area of my home here in Virginia.
LibraryThing member edwardsgt
Baldacci's homage to Bletchley Park cryptographers and Alan Turing. A Sean King and Michelle Maxwell story, largely set in Babbage Town, a secretive research centre in Virginia dedicated to cryptography and developing the quantum computer. Monk Turing (a relative of Alan Turing) dies in suspicious
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circumstances at Fort Peary across the river from Babbage Town, a secret CIA base. There is a parallel story to try to unravel Michelle's past which has caused a breakdown. Entertaining enough, especially for students of cryptography and Bletchley Park, but not one of his better stories.
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LibraryThing member wentplatinum
well written
LibraryThing member KC9333
Read when in the mood for a light and fast paced suspense novel. Do not look to hard for flaws and enjoy the ride.
LibraryThing member ChrisNorbury
Another solid thriller from Mr. Baldacci. He's a master at plot intricacies and weaving subplots into a story that at first have you wondering where he's going with this idea, but at the end he brings all the subplots together so they make sense and have a bearing on the main plot.

King and Maxwell
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are a dynamic, interesting pair. Not sure I'm crazy about Maxwell, but at least she's compelling. King is solid, got-your-back, dependable if not brilliant private eye. He provides a good foil for Maxwell's erratic, emotional persona.

If you're a Baldacci fan, or a thriller fan, you'll enjoy this book. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member aujames95
Not bad. This series (Michele Maxwell/Sean) doesn't interest me as much as the Camel Club.
LibraryThing member MomsterBookworm
Yet another so-so read in the series. I am a great fan of stories involving codes and cyphers, which I thought this story would be. Instead it was a protracted whodunit investigation with a lot of smoke and mirrors, which would have otherwise been fine, if it had finished with a 'bang' -- which
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somewhat disappointingly, this book, did not. The ending was somewhat anti-climatic for me. While I still have the last book in this series to read, it would only be fair to say that, (so far) it is this series that does not agree with me because I loved the 'Camel Club' series by the same author.
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Warner Books

Original publication date





0-446-58034-1 / 9780446580342


Original language

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