Select one of the keywords
The Whole Truth    by David Baldacci order for
Whole Truth
by David Baldacci
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

David Baldacci is a versatile author and I've enjoyed all of his works from his hilarious Freddy and the French Fries series for kids and his heartwarming holiday tale, The Christmas Train, to his entertaining Camel Club and Sean King/Michelle Maxwell thrillers. But I consider The Whole Truth by far his best novel yet - an intelligent and informative chiller that will make you look critically at anything you see in print or on the computer screen.

It begins as a carefully constructed fabrication is unleashed, the sort of story that shocks as it plucks every sentimental chord in the heartstrings of Internet users, who instantly - and without critical consideration - forward it to everyone on their distribution lists. 'What had started as a digital raindrop in the Internet ocean quickly exploded into a pixel and byte tsunami the size of a continent.' An actor speaks of being tortured and his family killed by Russian authorities, shouting in anguish that 'It is time the world knew THE WHOLE TRUTH.' After the story is picked up by mainstream media, it develops a life of its own, one that's carefully nourished by further news stories, which underline that 'The Evil Empire was back.'

Who's behind it? Billionaire corporate chieftain Nicholas Creel runs 'the largest defense conglomerate in the world, the Ares Corporation', and sales have been hemorrhaging. But it's not just about money for Creel, who has a godlike vision of how the world should be restructured, and the wealth, power and know-how to do something about it - as well as an end justifies means philosophy taken to 1984 extremes. He hires a world class perception management firm - whose motto is: 'Why waste time trying to discover the truth, when you can so easily create it?' - and positions mercenary boots on the ground, not hesitating to bloody them in order to build a supportive framework for his invented truth.

Of course, good guys get entangled in the global mayhem that Creel and his minions create - they have to be to carry the story. Shaw, a larger than life agent - he'd take down James Bond without breaking into a sweat - is working for a super-secret US agency under duress (they implanted an explosive tracking device in his arm). Shaw wants to retire and settle down with his fiancée Anna Fischer (who works for the Phoenix Group think tank) but it seems unlikely that he will be able to extract himself. Pulitzer prizewinning journalist Katie James - whose drinking problems have relegated her to writing obituaries - stumbles into an operation involving Shaw, who saves her life.

The action and suspense fire up to blistering levels after Anna sends an email critical of the invented Russian story to an Internet blogger plant. Shaw is ordered to investigate the Red Menace phenomenon, while Katie is manipulated into filing a false 'story of the decade', further implicating the Russians. Soon, they're both on the run through the U.S. and Europe, only half a step ahead of ruthless killers and trying to work out what the whole truth might be. They pull a clever scam on a PM guru, are betrayed and come close to death on several occasions, but ultimately do succeed in bringing down an uber-powerful enemy.

In an Author's Note for the Advance Reading Copy, the author tells us that many PR firms offer perception management services, that many PM techniques described in his novel are standard operating procedures, and that 'the more information we have available, the less truth we actually know.' In The Whole Truth, David Baldacci gives us one of his trademark engrossing thrillers, centered on a very frightening modern reality, that is the ease with which communications - and particularly the Internet - can be misused and manipulated to sell the Big Lie. Don't miss this one!!

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews