Sunday, July 27, 2008

David Baldacci: The Whole Truth

David Baldacci takes his style of thriller international with The Whole Truth. And he gives us a new suite of interesting characters. Shaw is a reluctant “good guy”, working for some strange agency and boss that he hates. Anna Fischer is the love of his life. Katie James is a journalist with a glorious past and disastrous present. Nicolas Creel is a defense contractor, and Dick Pender is his perception manager. Creel supplements Pender’s work with “boots on the ground” managed by Caesar. This being a Baldacci book, not everyone will get out alive.

Creel needs a war. Countries just aren’t using up military hardware as fast as they used to. He turns to Pender to develop public support, and Caesar to trigger events or remove problems. The thing is, Creel doesn’t just want a brush fire in a remote fringe. He needs a major war between major powers.

Pender is very good at using the internet to get his message out, and stifle any doubters. After reading his manipulations, I find I’m even more skeptical than I was before of anything I read online. I used to tell my children not to believe everything they read, and not to believe anything they read at a grocery store checkout counter. But I’m convinced, with Baldacci’s support, that unsolicited emails and sensational postings are worse than supermarket tabloids.

Shaw is an unusual, but highly effective, operative for a very shadowy organization. He periodically crosses paths with James, at first through coincidence, later cooperative efforts. Fischer has some doubts about Pender’s message. These doubts are later shared by Shaw and James, providing a force to drive the plot.

And the plot does drive on intensely. If you have a lot of other things to do, you may need to finish them before picking up The Whole Truth. It’s hard to put it back down.

As you might infer from the title, the book is about Truth. Pender’s motto, “Why waste time trying to discover the truth, when you can so easily create it?” represents one perspective. James, as a journalist, has an interest in revealing the truth. But her editor is interested in any version of the truth, just so long as it is faster than the competition. Shaw wants to understand the truth to drive appropriate decisions and action, but not necessarily for public consumption. The interplay of these perceptions of the truth is very interesting.

As I close, I want to revise what I said earlier. If you have a lot other things to do, just set them aside. You will stay so focused on The Whole Truth that it won’t be too long before you can get back to them.

1 comment:

Kit said...

It was interesting reading your review and comparing it to the one I just wrote and the one I'm about to write. Both of mine were adventure/mysteries of a sort, but they involved only 3 and 4 main characters, respectively. They were much simpler stories, but very enjoyable, in part because of the travelogue components.

Anyway, The Whole Truth sounds pretty interesting. It will be fun to read something complex that I'd have to pay attention to as it progressed. If I lived across town, I'd drop by and borrow it!