Dan Brown /
Simon & Schuster Ome /
Amazon.com Penzler Pick, December 2001: In the world of page-turning thrillers, Dan Brown holds a special place in the hearts of many of us. After his first book, Digital Fortress, almost passed me by, he wrote Angels and Demons, which was probably one of the half-dozen most exciting thrillers of last year. It is a pleasure to report that his new book lives up to his reputation as a writer whose research and talent make his stories exciting, believable, and just plain unputdownable. The time is now and President Zachary Herney is facing a very tough reelection. His opponent, Senator Sedgwick Sexton, is a powerful man with powerful friends and a mission: to reduce NASA's spending and move space exploration into the private sector. He has numerous supporters, including many beyond the businesses who will profit from this because of the embarrassment of 1996, when the Clinton administration was informed by NASA that proof existed of life on other planets. That information turned out to be premature, if not incorrect. (This story is true; I repeat, Dan Brown's research is very, very good.) The embattled president is assured that a rare object buried deep in the Arctic ice will prove to have far-reaching implications on America's space program. The find, however, needs to be verified. Enter Rachel Sexton, a gister for the National Reconnaissance Office. Gisters reduce complex reports into single-page briefs, and in this case the president needs that confirmation before he broadcasts to the nation, probably ensuring his reelection. It's tricky because Rachel is the daughter of his opponent. Rachel is thrilled to be on the team traveling to the Arctic circle. She is a realist about her father's politics and has little respect for his stand on NASA, but Senator Sexton cannot help but have a problem with her involvement. Adventure, romance, murder, skullduggery, and nail-biting tension ensue. By the end of Deception Point, the reader will be much better informed about how our space program works and how our politicians react to new information. Bring on the next Dan Brown thriller! --Otto Penzler From Publishers Weekly Struggling to rebound from a series of embarrassing blunders that have jeopardized its political life at the start of this lively thriller, NASA makes an astounding discovery: there is a meteor embedded deep within the arctic ice. And it isn't just any meteor. Inside the huge rock, which crashed to earth in 1716, are fossils of giant insects proof of extraterrestrial life. Yet, given NASA's slipping reputation, the question arises: Is the meteor real or a fake? That uncertainty dogs NASA and its supporters in Brown's latest page-flipper, a finely polished amalgam of action and intrigue. Trying to determine the truth are intelligence agent Rachel Sexton and popular oceanographer Michael Tolland, both among the first to suspect something is amiss when the meteor is pulled from the ice. Their doubts quickly make them the targets of a mysterious death squad controlled by someone or something that doesn't want the public to hear the meteor may be a fraud. Together, Sexton and Tolland scramble across arctic glaciers, take refuge on ice floes, are rescued by a nuclear submarine, then find themselves trapped aboard a small research vessel off the coast of New Jersey. All the while, the nation's capital is buzzing as to whether NASA has engaged in deception. Or is NASA just a dupe for aerospace companies that have long wanted a bigger share of space contracts? Brown (Angels & Demons) moves into new territory with his latest. It's an excellent thriller a big yet believable story unfolding at breakneck pace, with convincing settings and just the right blend of likable and hateful characters. He's also done his research, folding in sophisticated scientific and military details that make his plot far more fulfilling than the norm. From Booklist The phrase mixed bag was probably invented to describe novels like this one. It has characters that range from inventive to wooden, dialogue that bounces between evocative and cliched, a narrative structure that is sometimes serpentine and sometimes childishly simple, and a plot that lies somewhere between bold and ridiculous. While most readers will accept the author's premise--that a remarkable discovery in the Arctic may offer proof of extraterrestrial life--others may have trouble with his casting of NASA as a murderous villain. Still, this is pretty exciting stuff (Can an intelligence agent and a scholar blow the lid off a massive conspiracy before they are assassinated?), and Brown certainly does have a knack for spinning a suspenseful yarn. On the other hand, his writing style is merely adequate. In the end, what does Brown's mixed bag add up to? Those who require only that thrillers deliver the requisite number of chills will have a good time here, but those looking for a little artistry, a little panache, are likely to be disappointed. David Pitt From Library Journal Brown's dazzling high-tech adventure opens with NASA personnel making a startling discovery. An ancient meteorite is found buried within an Arctic glacier. Samples taken from this meteorite reveal that it contains fossils from life forms not previously seen on Earth. Could this discovery prove that we are not alone in the universe? To answer that question, several civilian scientists are dispatched to the site in order to investigate the origin of the fossils and verify NASA's findings. Before any official announcement can be made, however, one of the scientists dies under mysterious circumstances. The remaining scientists quickly realize that all is not what it appears to be as they struggle to separate truth from deceit. With this latest story, Brown (Digital Fortress) proves once again that he is among the most intelligent and dynamic of authors in the thriller genre. He has skillfully blended his own wit and style with the rip-roaring adventure of Cussler and the modern technology of Clancy. Highly recommended for all public libraries. Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L.