Review

Rules of Deception

by Christopher Reich

RULES OF DECEPTION, the latest offering from award-winning
author Christopher Reich, makes demands. Reich, whose bibliography
consists of some of the most intelligent contemporary thrillers in
print, has a penchant for what has been referred to elsewhere as
"complex" plots. Fair enough; his work is challenging, in part
because his stories are set very deeply in this world. As is
thoroughly demonstrated in his new book, he has a good grasp of
current events and the ways in which seemingly unrelated events are
very closely tied together. Such things do not lend themselves to
headline news, no matter how one tries to jam them to make them
fit. Reich's work is painted on a much broader canvas, demanding
singular attention to detail and to what has gone before.
Fortunately, such effort on the part of the reader is rewarded one
hundredfold.

Jonathan Ransom is the heart of RULES OF DECEPTION, a character who
is both unique and an everyman, an expert in his field who suddenly
becomes a fish out of water on a very hostile and inhospitable
shore. Jonathan is a physician who eschews the fortune a medical
practice could bring him, choosing instead to devote his knowledge
and talents to Doctors Without Borders. As the book begins, he is
taking a rare holiday with his nurse-wife, Emma, climbing the Swiss
Alps and contemplating his career. Everything changes for
Jonathan within the space of a few heartbeats when a blizzard sets
in and Emma is lost to a hidden crevasse.

But he barely has time to grieve before his belief in his life and
work is irrevocably altered. Not even 24 hours after the terrible
mountainside accident, an envelope for Emma is delivered to their
hotel room. All it contains is two baggage claim tickets, which are
to be reclaimed at a remote baggage station. Puzzled and intrigued,
Jonathan journeys to the site only to be attacked almost
immediately by two men. Thanks to some luck and lightning fast
reflexes acquired from working and living in dangerous places, he
leaves one assailant dead and the other mortally wounded. However,
Jonathan is horrified when he discovers that his attackers were
Swiss policemen. Their deaths bring the Swiss authorities into
play.

Meanwhile, two apparently unrelated deaths of "persons of interest"
to Swiss counterespionage agents bring Marcus von Daniken, a
quietly efficient and extremely competent investigator, into play.
As Marcus's investigation slowly begins to dovetail into the deaths
of the two policemen, and thus into Jonathan's world, he finds
himself pursued by two Swiss law enforcement agencies and a
shadowy, calculating assassin.

An unknown group of individuals are slowly but inexorably putting
together the pieces of a plot to create an incident of
international terrorism that will lead straight back to the Iranian
government, in the hope of beginning a conflagration that will
bring on a cataclysmic event. Jonathan slowly discovers, to his
horror, that Emma had been leading a secretive double life and was
an integral key in a plot that, if carried out, would result in the
deaths of innocents. Whose side was Emma on? Was she trying to
bring the plot to fruition, or prevent it? Grieving and angered by
turns, even as he is pursued from all sides, Jonathan engages in an
investigation on the run, aided only by an old family friend and
headed toward what may well be the biggest shock of all.

Christopher Reich is a sure-footed guide through the labyrinthine
plotting of RULES OF DECEPTION, and his characters --- both primary
and secondary --- are every bit as compelling and memorable as the
storyline, which reads as if it was ripped from tomorrow's
headlines. Marcus von Daniken, in fact, almost steals the book away
from the main characters, functioning in his own way as a lower key
Samuel Gerard to Jonathan's Richard Kimble. And then there is Zvi
Hirsch, an upper-level official in the Israeli government. He's not
only one of the most intriguing characters in the book, but also
one who you'll hope has a real-world model.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

Rules of Deception
by Christopher Reich

  • Publication Date: July 15, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • ISBN-10: 0385524064
  • ISBN-13: 9780385524063