HARD TARGET by Howard Gordon


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A sequel of sorts to Gordon’s debut (Gideon’s War, 2011), this anti-Washington conspiracy novel aims high but falls flat.

The Davis brothers are back. Gideon, the so-called Man of Peace, is fired up for action after taking out those bad guys in the debut. Tillman, scapegoated by the federal government, is holed up in a cabin in the West Virginia woods. Gideon gets wind of a serious conspiracy being hatched by a militia leader, Jim Verhoven, a neighbor of Tillman’s. His fiancée Kate gets it. “Honey," she asks sweetly, “do you want the Glock or the SIG?” Tillman is busy tracking wild boar, but agrees to help Gideon out. Suddenly he’s in the middle of a firefight on Verhoven’s land between the Feds and the militia, which will leave 12 people dead. It’s too much too soon, poor pacing, but it allows Tillman to rescue Verhoven’s wicked wife Lorene, gain the conspirators’ trust and learn their secrets. Except he doesn’t quite, because Verhoven is not the mastermind. That would be Dale Wilmot, an Idaho landowner and businessman, boiling with rage since his son Evan returned from Iraq without his legs. The federal government, all of it, will pay, when its representatives are gathered at the Capitol for the State of the Union. Wilmot has the heating contract for the building and will siphon cyanide gas through the ducts. This would be more compelling if Wilmot was a remotely credible terrorist. It doesn’t help that the action is split between the Capitol basement, the Virginia home of a Secret Service agent whose family has been taken hostage, and Idaho, where it’s left to a minor character to alert Gideon to the imminent gas attack. The action is further slowed by lectures about security rings, refrigerants and pressurized tanks. No surprise, then, that the climax can’t compare for excitement with Tillman’s elemental encounter with that monster boar in the woods.

Beneath the trappings, hollow at its core.

Pub Date: Jan. 3rd, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4391-7582-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2012


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