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"Simple Genius" by David Baldacci: A Mystery Book Review

I love reading and writing. I came to writing late in life and discovered a world where I feel like a fish in the water.

David Baldacci, author of "Simple Genius"

David Baldacci, author of "Simple Genius"

Looking for a Good Mystery Novel?

Simple Genius, by David Baldacci, was published in April of 2007. It is the third book of the King and Maxwell series, after Split Second and Hour Game. Although it's not necessary, reading the first two books would make reading this one even more enjoyable.

The most important topics in this series are quantum computers, protective codes and how to break them, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), destructive obsessions, and a hidden treasure.

According to Wikipedia: "The CIA is the leading agency of the United States of America that provides global intelligence in constantly changing political, social, economic, technological, and military backdrops. Its mission is to protect America's national security."

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The Subject Matter

This book is a thriller novel about murders perpetrated in a shady world involving two top-secret American establishments: a CIA training camp that seems to hide dirty operations and a computer laboratory. People who work in this unusual laboratory are mathematicians and computer geniuses who experiment with codes and numbers and do research on quantum computers.

The Main Characters

  • Sean King is a former Secret Service agent. A neat freak and a loyal friend, he tries his best to stand up for what he believes in and do the right thing for his country and his fellow Americans. He uncovers laundering and dirty operations run by a highly placed CIA operative.
  • Michelle Maxwell is a former Secret Service agent, former athlete, and Olympian silver medal winner. She is Sean’s business partner and friend. A tough cookie, she does not shy away from a fight but harbors a dark secret that affects her behavior. Sean goes to great lengths to help her deal with her personal issues. He forces her to seek counseling to help her uncover a secret buried deep down within herself for a long time.
  • Vigenère "Viggie" Turing is an 11-year-old genius with knowledge that could help solve a murder and uncover the truth. Sean and Michelle work hard to reach her as her genius mind closes on itself since she does not have the ability to relate to other people in a normal way.
  • Ian Whitfield is an ex-military Vietnam-war hero. He heads a CIA advanced training camp. He plays an important at the end of the book in changing the outcome.
  • Horatio Barnes is a psychiatrist who feels way over his head when he is dragged into an adventure for which he is not prepared.

The Structure and Storytelling

The chapters alternate mostly between Sean and Michelle as they struggle and face puzzling situations, deceit, and danger. A few chapters show them together facing death or attempting the impossible. A couple of chapters take place in a counseling setting.

What I Liked

I liked the unpredictable situations and the fact that the individuals who I thought were bad turned out to be good, and those who I thought were loyal turned out to be untrustworthy. I was kept on my toes trying to figure out who to trust and who to accuse. There were many surprises, some small and some not so small. I also learned about watercraft and how to face a storm while in the water.

What I Did Not Like

I felt disturbed by the torture scene. It reminded me of stories I have heard about tortures in countries run by dictators where there are no laws and where human rights are not respected. The fighting scenes explain in an obvious way how to target areas in someone’s body to hit and injure, which was also slightly disturbing.

Would I Read Another Book by Baldacci?

Yes, I would certainly read other books by David Baldacci. He does not repeat himself, and his books have lots of actions and surprises. I give Simple Genius two thumbs up overall!

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