Executive Times






2008 Book Reviews


The Whole Truth by David Baldacci








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Nuance and subtlety are rarely characteristics of the action novel genre, and David Baldacci avoids both in his latest book, The Whole Truth, a perfect choice for summer reading pleasure. Everything is absolute or extreme on these pages: the villain exudes evil (despite a philanthropic distraction); the hero is both competent and capable, appearing in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. Here’s an excerpt, all of Chapter 3, pp. 12-14:


“What’s the “A” stand for?” the man asked in fluent English with a Dutch accent layered over it.

Shaw looked at the gentleman standing opposite him at Passport Control in Schiphol Airport fifteen kilometers southwest of Amster­dam. One of the busiest airports in the world, it rested five meters below sea level with trillions of tons of swirling water nearby. Shaw. had always considered this the height of engineering daring. Yet much of the entire country was below sea level, so they didn't really have much of a choice on where to park the planes.

"Excuse me?" Shaw said, though he well knew what the man was referring to.

The fellow stabbed the photo page of Shaw's passport with his finger.

"There. Your given name is just the initial `A'. What does it stand for?"

Shaw gazed at his passport while the Dutchman looked on.

As befitted the tallest nation on earth, the passport man in his regulation uniform was six foot two, only one inch above a Dutch­man's average height, but still coming in three inches under Shaw's imposing stature.

"It doesn't stand for anything," Shaw answered. "My mother never gave me a Christian name, so I named myself for what I am. A Shaw. Because that is my surname, or at least it was my mother's."

"And your father had no objection to his son not taking his name?"

"You don't need a father to deliver a baby, only to make one." "And the hospital did not name you, then?"

"Are all babies born in hospitals?" Shaw jabbed back with a smile. The Dutchman stiffened and then his tone became less adversarial.

"So Shaw. Irish, as in George Bernard?"

The- Dutch were a wonderfully informed people, Shaw had found. Well educated and curious, loved to debate. He'd never had anyone before ask him about George Bernard Shaw.

"Could be, but I'm Scottish. The Highlands. At least my ances­tors came from there," he added quickly, since he was holding an American passport, one of a dozen he actually possessed. "I was born in Connecticut. Perhaps you've been there?"

The man said eagerly, "No. But I would like very much to travel to America."

Shaw had seen that lustful look before. "Well, the streets aren't really paved with gold and the women aren't all movie stars, but there's a lot to do and lots of room to do it in."

"Maybe one day," the passport man said wistfully before reas­suming his duties. "Are you here on business or pleasure?" "Both. Why come all this way and have to choose?"

The man chuckled. "Anything to declare?"

"Ik heb niets aan te geven."

"You speak Dutch?" he said in a surprised tone.

"Doesn't everyone?"

The man laughed and smacked Shaw's passport with an old-fashioned ink stamp instead of the high-tech devices some countries were using. These, Shaw had heard, implanted a digital tracking device on the paper. He'd always preferred ink to tracking devices.

"Enjoy your visit," said Shaw's new Dutch friend as he handed back the passport.

"I intend to," Shaw replied as he walked toward the exit and the train that would carry him to Centraal Station in Amsterdam in about twenty minutes.

From there it would, only get more exciting. But first he had a role to play.

Because he had an audience.

In fact, they were watching him right now.


Shaw is the hero of The Whole Truth, and what he does in Amsterdam and after will keep readers turning the pages.


Steve Hopkins, July 18, 2008



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The recommendation rating for this book appeared

 in the August 2008 issue of Executive Times


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