From the Publisher
"THE EFFECT IS A BIT LIKE ROLLING DOWN A GRASSY HILL . . . YOU PICK UP SERIOUS SPEED. . . . Writer Carl Granville - down on his luck personally and professionally - is approached one day by a hotshot publisher who says she'll pay him a startling amount of money to turn a top secret diary into a novel. Gift from God or devilish trap? . . . The conspiracy he gets tangled in plays on some seriously topical fears."
"THE BOOK'S GOT EVERYTHING A BIG ADVENTURE THRILLER SHOULD - a potentially world-shaking secret, nearly invincible villains, vulnerable protagonists on the run, romance, [and] betrayal. . . . What takes it a step beyond . . . are the seriousness of its message and the playfulness with which it bites the hand that publishes it."
-Los Angeles Times
"FRANTIC . . . NOTHING IS EVER AS IT SEEMS."
-The Boston Globe
"THIS ONE WILL KEEP YOU GUESSING UNTIL THE END."
The Barnes & Noble Review
Who is Gideon? In the powerhouse debut from Russell Andrews, a pen name for author Peter Gethers and mystery scribe David Handler, that's what struggling writer Carl Granville must desperately try to answer after blindly accepting an apparently unbelievable publishing deal. A briskly plotted, well-conceived, twisting-and-turning thriller about a project any writer would die for -- and in Carl's case, very well may -- Gideon is a savvy and sinister read.
At his agent's funeral in New York City, unpublished writer Carl Glanville -- an all-American type of guy: young, handsome, well built, with a determined heart and a lot of talent -- is introduced to Maggie Petersen, the top editor at New York's largest and most successful book publisher. Maggie claims that before her death, Carl's agent forwarded her a copy of his manuscript; Maggie read it, thought it was rough in places but brilliant in others, and would like to publish it. Next thing we know, not only is Carl offered the works from this publishing giant -- fancy advance galleys, publicity tour, a big marketing campaign -- but another deal as well. And this, my friends, is where Gideon begins to spark.
If Carl should accept this project, he will be paid a quarter of a million dollars to scribe a novel that, Maggie promises, will change the world; a million-copy announced printing goes a long way to add credence to Maggie's over-the-top prediction. The novel will be published anonymously and will be based on fact, on information Carl will receive in utmost secrecy from an unknown informant, known to both Maggie and Carl only as Gideon. While this Primary Colors-type project makes Carl feel extremely uncomfortable, the $50,000 advance that Maggie waves in front of his face, plus the promise to publish his novel with all the bells and whistles, is too much for Carl to turn down.
Ecstatic, Carl seeks out Toni-with-an-i, the beautiful actress-wannabe who has recently moved into his building. But when he arrives, Toni is bolting to an "All My Children" audition and is forced to take a rain check. Slightly disappointed but still flying high as a kite, Carl returns to his apartment to pop a cork by himself. Unfortunately, as Carl immediately realizes, he's not alone. An enormous, well-dressed stranger is sitting quietly in a corner, patiently awaiting Carl's return. This intruder, Harry, who we know has already committed two vicious, cold-blooded murders in a previous scene, is now the tough-as-nails partner of the frightened and angered Carl. For the next two weeks, Harry appears each morning with new information from Gideon, cooks Carl a gourmet breakfast, and sits quietly as Carl jots down notes. When Carl finishes, Harry collects the data, retapes it to his powerful thigh, and is off -- only to return the next morning with additional information from the enigmatic Gideon.
But who is Gideon? What is this story that he's writing, taken from the almost illegible scribbling of a young woman in the deep South in the mid-1950s? A million questions flood Carl's mind, but no answers follow. Soon, just as the story Carl is transcribing becomes extremely grim, sick, and horrible, the real-life murders begin, and Carl is on the run, a fugitive from the law and the life he once led -- and will likely never lead again.
Gideon is an electrifying novel. The writing team of Gethers and Handler has constructed a rapid-fire thriller with a titillating premise, slick writing, a vicious, well-conceived cast of characters, and an ending that will shock you off your beach chair. There's an innocent man on the run -- not only from the law but from someone who wants him dead for knowing too much about something that he doesn't really know anything about -- a death at every corner, a precarious love affair, and a surprise on almost every page. Gideon is a grade A tale, a perfect match for the hot summer sun. (Andrew LeCount)
Gideon is one of the smartest and most intricate thrillers you will read this summer. Or any summer, for that matter.
New York Daily News
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The president of the U. S. has a secret so horrifying it even terrifies the priest he confesses to, in this debut thriller pitting ambitious, fallible politicians against a diabolical media mogul. Unsuspecting ghostwriter Carl Granville is enlisted by super-agent Maggie Peterson to take a hand-scrawled, stolen diary and turn it into a million-copy expos --but Carl is kept in the dark about whose story he's writing. The book is known only as "Gideon" and when Carl's apartment is trashed, the diary stolen and Maggie murdered, he soon discovers that nobody at the publishing house has any knowledge of the book deal. Branded the main suspect in Maggie's death, Carl goes on the lam, and with his Washington, D.C., ex-girlfriend Amanda Mays, tries to uncover the deadly conspiracy. The mess gets increasingly complicated, as the president commits suicide and the political climate is ripe for the First Lady to bid for the executive position. A homosexual priest, a British billionaire, an elderly midwife who knows all and a killer in disguise figure in the labyrinthine plot. Andrews is a pseudonym for Peter Gethers (The Dandy; The Cat Who Went to Paris) and David Handler (Kiddo): the ghostwriting angle is one of Handler's trademarks (he's the author of the popular Stewart Hoag mysteries). Dead-on publishing in-jokes are a lagniappe (Gethers is the former publisher of Villard); Carl has ghostwritten a series of Kathie Lee Gifford mysteries. Though saturated with winning details, however, the narrative, with its endless twists (blackmail, childhood secrets, love affairs) winds up with several complications too many, and this plethora of side plots dilutes the lucid, cumulative pleasures a good thriller is designed to evoke. $250,000 ad/promo; BOMC and QPB selections; author tour; audio rights: Brilliance Corp.; foreign rights sold to U.K., France and Holland. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
A political conspiracy thriller with more fizzle than firepower. Who is Gideon? That is, who is he really? It's the burning question absolutely no one seems able to answer. Strange, since Carl Granville, a struggling young novelist, was offered a fat fee for a ghostwriting chore on the very subjectan assignment originating with Maggie Peterson, "the hottest editor in New York." The modus operandi proposed by her was certainly unconventional: Carl is to novelize by the numbers, so to speak. Periodically, she'll feed him material (extracted from a diary) that he's to convert into fictional increments of an eventual whole. Will he accept the conditions? Broke and at loose ends, of course he would. But when Maggie becomes defunct and no one at Apex Communications, her firm, will admit to having heard of Gideon, life gets complicated for Carl. Even more so when the local corpse count skyrockets, and the police seem alarmingly eager to credit Carl with multiple offings. Only Amanda Mays, Carl's ex-flame, persists in regarding him as constitutionally nonlethal. To her, he still looks like "an overgrown Campbell's Soup kid." In any case, the two partner up and go on the lam, pursued by contract killers who are efficient, implacable, and staples of this kind of fiction. And when our heroes decide it's up to them, them alone, to solve the Gideon mystery, few thriller buffs will be taken aback. Nor will any of them gasp at the denouementon learning how high an echelon has been tainted by political wickedness and chicanery. What's a wannabe blockbuster without a conspiring top banana? A suspense-fiction pastiche in which characterization is thin, pacing lethargic, and freshness inshort supply: the first team effort from Peter Gethers (A Cat Abroad, 1993, etc.) and David Handler (The Man Who Loved Women to Death, 1997, etc.). (Book-of-the-Month/Quality Paperback; $250,000 ad/promo; author tour)
Read an Excerpt
Once again he woke up screaming.
It was the dream, of course. The same dream. The same overwhelming, inescapable dream.
But there was something different this time. There was no distance to it, no feeling of safety. It had crossed over and crystallized and become stiflingly, palpably, claustrophobically real. The colors were bright and the sound was crisp. He could see the faces, hear the voices. Feel the pain.
And he had to listen to the crying.
When he realized he was awake, that the sound he heard was real, was actually coming from inside him, he bit the scream off and the physical effort hurt his throat, as if the noise were being ripped out of him. He had to force himself to think about where he was, who he was, to stop himself from screaming again. And then he had to bite down on his lip so hard he drew blood. Otherwise he knew he could have howled and wept for minutes, for hours. Forever.
He was drenched in sweat, the sheets so damp beneath him he thought he'd wet the bed. But none of that was new. He was used to that. No, it was the end of the dream that left him weak and trembling. That's what was different.
This time he dreamed that he talked.
And because he believed in the veracity of dreams, he woke up terrified.
The reasons for his terror had dominated his thoughts ever since the moment she had come to him, the woman he loved so absolutely, shaken and subdued, ever since she had told him she had to talk to him in private. It had been sunny that afternoon, and he remembered the warm glow he'd felt, basking in the realization that everything was going perfectly, all their plans were coming together so smoothly. When she leaned over and whispered to him, he had never seen her look like that. So frightened. Pale and trembling. He couldn't imagine what had done this to her. Then she told him about the package that had arrived. What was in it. And what the instructions were that came with it.
They had sat together, holding each other, for a long time after that. Saying nothing because there was nothing to say. Because everything he had worked for, they had worked for, was crumbling now. No, not crumbling. Exploding.
He had canceled all meetings, shut off all phone calls. They had locked themselves behind closed doors. Then she spoke, examining their options, going over every choice rationally and calmly. Analyzing. Probing. Until finally she had put her hand over his, her skin cool and soft. Her softness was all that kept him from bursting into tears.
"There's only one thing you can do," she said.
"That's the one thing I can't do," he said sadly.
"There's no other choice. Anything else is too risky, too terrible for you." She touched his cheek. "What if they find out? Think what would happen."
He didn't have to ask who "they" were. And he didn't have to think. He knew what would happen. He knew exactly what would happen.
He also knew that he could never accept the way out she was urging him to take. She could propose it only because she didn't truly understand his power, didn't know what she was really asking him to give up.
After all her rational explanations, after eliminating choice after choice, ultimately it was still impossible, what she was asking him to do.
So he'd thought of another solution. A far better one.
The latest dream showed him that it was right. And just. He knew better than anyone that it was just.
He sat up suddenly in the bed, as if the quickness of his movement could shed the fear like an unwanted layer of skin. He blinked furiously, willing the nightmareand the night's solitudeto disappear.
It was just getting light outside, the sun's first rays filter-
ing down so passively they didn't seem to have the strength to make it all the way through the windows of the bedroom. But neither the shadows of the dawn outside nor the icy air-conditioning insidethe best system money could buywere able to disguise the brutal humidity of this Washington summer. His rapid breathing slowed somewhat, and he uncurled the clenched fingers of both hands. He tried to force himself to be still, to relax. To come back to life. But he could not.
He glanced to his left, where his wife slept soundly. He wondered how she could possibly sleep, and yet he was glad she did. For the first time since he'd known her, he didn't think he could face her, couldn't talk to her, tell her what he was thinking. Yet despite everything it pleased him to hear her gentle, rhythmic breathing, so comfortably familiar to him, soft and delicate. And there was another marvel: In twenty-seven years of marriage she had never been anything but a comfort to him. Never anything but a tower of strength.
He swung his legs out of bed. They were not yet steady. Still sitting, his bare feet planted in the pastel Aubusson carpet, he ran his left hand over the smooth, hollowed-out top of the bedpost. He loved their four-poster bed. Built in 1782, dated and signed by Nathaniel Dolgers, the greatest of colonial carpenters. It was too short for them, really, and not all that comfortable. But he insisted they sleep in it. He looked at his wife, curled up in the sheets, and smiled. She thought his affection for the bed was because he'd always loved working with his hands, had always, above all, worshiped craftsmanship. But that wasn't it at all. The real reason was that the bed had cost $175,000. A bed! And every single night before he sleptif he slepthe thought about what his mother had done when he'd told her he was sleeping in a $175,000 bed.
She'd laughed. She'd thrown her head back and laughed and laughed until tears of wonderment flowed down her leather-tough cheeks.
His legs were steadier now, his heart no longer pounding. He stood slowly, padded over to the window. Directly before him he could see the square, deserted and still. To the right, below him, at the eastern side of the house, he could make out the garden, the silhouettes of her flowers. He glanced back at the sleeping woman and had to shake his head. They always referred to them as "her" flowers. And when she talked about them, she might have been talking about the children they'd never had. Put her before a Grant Thomas rose or a Campanula lactiflora and her face would soften, her eyes would glisten, her voice would coo in that tender, musical tone of hers. And when she touched those petalswhat caresses, what love. Whenever he passed one of the arrangements she'd cut for the house, he couldn't help but reach out and stroke the petals himself. He always felt as if he were touching her. And she were touching him.