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.
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.
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.
The book follows Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, two former 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.
I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend this book, but it's not a terrible read. Baldacci has done much better work.
reads like run of the mill popular fiction
light summer reading
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
King and Maxwell 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.