Authors: Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Unique Elements: Con Artist with a Deadly Condition tries to atone for his life by working for a highly covert organization
Series: A Gideon Crew Novel
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Number of Page: 355 Pages
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Reviewed by: J.T. Hanke
Final Score: 4.5 Moons (out of 5)
Preston and Child are the writing duo that are most well known for their creation of the Agent Pendergast novels, which we’ve written articles on here at DGM and love due to its smart and Gothic flare!
A few years ago, these two writers decided to create a new series which they would be writing in between Pendergast novels revolving around Gideon Crew, a Los Alamos nuclear scientist by day/art thief & con artist by night who has his life turned upside down when he discovers he’s got an incurable condition that leaves him with only a year to live. He’s given the opportunity to do something that actually matters by teaming up with Eli Glinn (who first showed up in the Diogenes cycle of the Pendergast novels) and helping his covert company, EES, to stop massive disasters from occurring.
Told serially and with virtually no time in between each book due to the main character’s limited life expectancy, each novel’s ending butts right against the beginning of the next. While I loved the concept of the Gideon Crew series due to its capacity to have the sort of smart tales we associate with Burn Notice and White Collar, I actually found that the first two books in the series—Gideon’s Corpse and Gideon’s Sword—didn’t live up to my hopes. The main character was hard to truly empathize with and both novels had really similar story beats.
With that said, I’m pleased to state that the series has made a very pleasing about face with the first novel NOT to include Gideon’s name in the title with: The Lost Island.
When Gideon is challenged to steal a priceless artifact through his trademark social engineering skills, it leads him to a map that has been lost for thousands of years—a map designed to lead them to an island that could heal the world. In order to find it, he’ll be teamed up with, Amy, a mysterious captain who seems to hate him, and forced to explore the Caribbean–while avoiding pirates, monsoons, and one of the most dangerous predators ever recorded.
When I first looked at the cover of this book, all I could think of was the Jon Turteltaub movies starring Nicholas Cage, National Treasure. I personally enjoyed the smart mystery system used in those films and was hoping this book might be similar. I wasn’t disappointed as Gideon Crew’s first major departure from American soil forces him to go into a much more treasure based hunt than he’s ever dealt with before.
The twists and turns in this story are well thought out, feel logical, and were quite enjoyable. The climax is suspenseful—if a bit expected—and the ending works very well with the story.
As I mentioned before, one of my issues with past Gideon Crew books has been in relationship to Gideon and his dynamics with people. He’s not a terribly likable person because he’s always looking out for his own agenda—even when he’s trying to do things to help change the world for the better. In many ways, his use of social engineering is a bit too reminiscent of the games psychopaths play with people. As such, when his stubbornly bullheaded behavior got him into trouble in past books, I tended to be rooting more for him getting destroyed by it rather than rescued.
With that said, in The Lost Island, he’s given an opportunity to really grow as a character by being partnered with the enigmatic Amy, whose been chosen because she WON’T like him but whose skills as a ship’s captain and knowledge of ancient languages he’ll need to complete his quest. While I personally didn’t find some of the revelations about her own motivations as compelling as I had expected, she does a great job as a dynamic foil to Gideon, forcing him to grow and adapt in response to her. In the end, their interactions help Gideon to become a character that’s much easier to empathize with and to root for.
Dead languages. Treasure maps. Mystical Islands. Ancient Greek pilgrimages. AND clever con artists using people’s assumptions against them while trying to fight against those who oppress others. Yeah, The Lost Island definitely has a pretty strong Gothic fit to it. In many ways, I feel like The Lost Island is the most Gothic of the Gideon Crew novels—and it’s definitely my favorite.
While I was on the fence with the first two Gideon Crew novels (just as I was on the first two Pendergast novels, truth be told), I really feel like Gideon Crew is coming together as a solid character and one worthy of his own extended franchise. The Lost Island was an enjoyable novel that kept me turning pages to try to get through and find out what happened in the end! And that’s always the sign of a well told tale!
The movie rights to Gideon Crew were optioned when the first book came out, with Michael Bay being attached as the director for its eventual release. Although Michael Bay can do some amazing non-franchise films (like The Rock), after reading The Lost Island, I kind of hope that Jon Turteltaub could bring Gideon to the big screen. Only time will tell!
Story: 4.0 Moons (out of 5.0)
Dynamics: 4.5 Moons (out of 5.0)
Gothic Fit: 5.0 Moons (out of 5.0)
Final Score (not an average): 4.5 Moons (out of 5.0)