HARD TARGET – Howard Gordon
Gideon Davis Series
ISBN: 978-1-4391-7582-8 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-1-4391-7606-1 (e-Book)
January 2012

Idaho, Virginia, and West Virginia

Gideon Davis used to be known as the “Man of Peace” for his skill at negotiation as an advisor to the President of the United States. That was before he became involved in a terrorist plot against a huge oil rig in the South China Seas . Gideon and his brother Tillman helped to save the day (with the rig's manager, Kate Murphy, who is now Gideon's fiancée). What was the reward? The politicians who screwed up put all the blame on Tillman, who had spent years undercover working for his country. Gideon pulled a lot of strings and persuaded the outgoing president to pardon his brother. This didn't set well with those really to blame, so though Tillman was freed, Gideon was asked to resign from the State Department. He's now entered the world of academia as a professor in Georgetown . He's not sure but what he misses the adrenaline rush of the past few months. So when he's approached by a methadone addict who offers to sell him information about a threat to a high value target in the U.S. , Gideon is determined to look into the matter. When his contact subsequently disappears before the sale is made, the threat appears more real.

Gideon asks his one friend in the FBI, Agent Nancy Clement, for help, and they approach her boss, Deputy Director Ray Dahlgren, who refuses to give any credence to the plot and orders Nancy to have nothing to do with any investigation. This man will remain true to form throughout and cause no end of trouble. Gideon eventually enlists the aid of his brother, who has become a near recluse.

HARD TARGET has a complex plot involving lots of people. The tale is constructed with many short chapters, one for practically every change of scene, and there are plenty of those. There is, indeed, a conspiracy made up of domestic groups in both Idaho and the Virginias , and the action bounces back and forth from east to west and back. The villains range from a rich, disillusioned former patriot and a sadistic psychopath to drug dealers, white supremacists, and so-called patriot militias. The two sets of plotters are richly delineated, as are several of their followers and victims. Their plan is intricate and deadly and would cause untold chaos.

Mr. Gordon succeeded in writing a most suspenseful novel, even with the early rapid hops between locations and the bad guys and the good. It's obvious he has no love of bureaucracy, at least of the incompetent variety. But he can also elicit a speck of sympathy for the few who believe in their cause but take things way too far and in the wrong directions. What's ahead for Gideon and Kate, Nancy and Tillman? Other characters call for more exposure as well; I hope to see what becomes of Evan Wilmot.

Howard Gordon's name will be familiar to those who read credits after television shows, 24 and The X-Files , for instance. Check out his website at www.howardmgordon.com (don't miss the M). This is Mr. Gordon's second novel and follows GIDEON'S WAR out January 2011. Both are excellent examples of the thriller genre.

Jane Bowers