Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Whole Truth


David Baldacci usually pens novels that are set in Washington D.C, the hotseat of power and politics, and revolve around over-the-top, borderline-implausible plots that are nevertheless fast-paced and engrossing. In The Whole Truth, he expands his canvas with a global thriller that spreads its wings far beyond Washington. Though the plot is simplistic compared to his other novels, the fast pace seen in those is intact and makes this another easily readable novel from Baldacci.

Baldacci started two series - one with the Camel Club and another with a pair of secret agents - in quick succession but The Whole Truth is a stand-alone thriller. Creel is the head of Ares Corporation, a defense contractor. Faced with declining sales, he seeks the help of a 'Perception Management' firm to manufacture a new Cold War - a scenario where the countries are in a constant state of fear and keep buying arms to make sure they are always ready for war. Shaw, who works for a secret agency, and Katie James, a journalist down on her luck, are drawn into Creel's plan for a new world order.

Baldacci usually creates elaborate plots with a multitude of characters but gives us a rather simple plot here. With an all-powerful villain with limitless power and money and grandiose visions for the future, the story is barely believable as an artificial conflict is created with a couple of videos and interviews. Things happen too fast to be credible and though Baldacci employs enough technical jargon like blogs and newsgroups and video sites, the ploys described and their worldwide repercussions are too cinematic to be believable. So the story is interesting but never feels real.

Those hard-hearted, almost-superhuman heroes are always likeable and easy to root for and Shaw here is one such hero. His time with Anna and his hopes about his future reveal his human side while his action sequences are visceral and well-written. Katie, who is fighting her own personal demons, is a good companion and the two make a good team. Creel makes a good villain and though implausible, its still fun seeing him manipulate the world for his benefit. His plans to create a villain and make people afraid of him are interesting and do reflect the world today, where the smallest action can become known worldwide within a matter of hours because of the Internet.

As always, Baldacci keeps us turning the pages. Whether its Creel's plans, the PR firm's execution of the plans, Shaw's assignments or Shaw-Katie's pursuit of Creel once they understand the plan, the pace never lags. There are no twists or surprises and the plot is very straigtforward but there are no slow spots to damage the pace. In that aspect the book is like a good summer blockbuster - light on plot and heavy on action.

6 Comments:

At 2:53 AM, Blogger Friendly Stranger said...

Sounds interesting!
Good review.......

 
At 7:37 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

I read it sometime back and liked it as a quick read. Sounded like there might be sequels. I wouldn't mind that.

 
At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Ram said...

have you read Randy Pausch's "The Last Lecture?" Its a TREASURE...superbly written, extremely moving...I'm going to have this by my side whenever I need a kick in the arse or whenever I feel like my shoulders drooping...
my fav line from the book: "You can't control the cards you're dealt, just how you play the hand."

 
At 1:16 PM, Blogger Srivatsan Sridharan said...

offline topic, BB did you listen to Kuselan songs on Raaga?

 
At 10:16 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

friendly, thanx :)

munimma, yeah he sure left things open for a sequel. but a third series? that might a bit too much for baldacci :)

ram, haven't read it but am sure i've heard of it rather recently. not sure where though :)

srivatsan, listened to just a couple so far :)

 
At 7:19 AM, Anonymous Ram said...

bb, this is the Carnegie Mellon professor who has been suffering from pancreatic cancer...here is the link...am sure you must've bumped into the video or write-ups about his 'last' lecture at carnegie mellon last fall...
http://download.srv.cs.cmu.edu/~pausch/

 

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