Review

The Whole Truth

by David Baldacci

David Baldacci has reached bestseller status over a dozen times
since his debut in 1996 with ABSOLUTE POWER (shortly thereafter
turned into a film of the same name starring Clint Eastwood). His
genres have varied considerably: political thriller, crime
thriller, autobiographical drama, even a Christmas story. With his
latest novel, THE WHOLE TRUTH, Baldacci boldly steps into the arena
of international thriller and may have created his most explosive
and hard-hitting story to date.

The premise of THE WHOLE TRUTH involves three primary characters.
The first is Nicolas Creel, a multi-billionaire who runs the
defense company ARES Corporation. Current trouble in the Middle
East has not been good for his business. He uses his
near-bottomless resources to hire a PM (Perception Management) Firm
by the name of Pender & Associates. Dick Pender and his team
specialize in going beyond mere “spin doctoring” and
actually succeed in placing false truths out in the public that
have major impact. The false truth precipitated between the
association of Creel and Pender is to put the Russian Empire in a
negative light by condemning them as mass murderers. This is done
via doctored news footage and the hiring of an actor to portray a
Russian whistleblower named Konstantin, who is going public with
these tales of atrocity.

The second character is known by just his last name, Shaw. Shaw
works for an unnamed international intelligence agency that sends
him on dangerous missions all over the world in an effort to thwart
evil. Ready to “retire” from this line of work and
finally marry his fiancée, Anna, Shaw begrudgingly accepts a
few small assignments from Frank, his contact at the agency, and
vows that they will be his last. Unfortunately, Anna works for a
London company known as the Phoenix Group, which is used as a pawn
in Creel’s truth-bending game. A team of supposed Russian hit
men invade the Phoenix Group and kill everyone in the building ---
including Anna. When Shaw learns of this, he re-ups with his agency
and vows to find and destroy the people behind this massacre.

The third character is Katie James. James is a Pulitzer
Prize-winning journalist who has been going through hard times
stemming from the heavy guilt she carries over the death of the
subject of one of her stories. As she tries to get back into the
swing of things with her career, she steps directly into the
Phoenix Group massacre after befriending both Shaw and his
fiancée. James meets with a Polish immigrant who is allegedly
the only survivor of the massacre, and he is the one who fingers
the Russian government for the crime. What makes things worse is
the fact that the Phoenix Group ends up being an organization tied
to the government of China --- and they are not at all pleased with
the unwarranted Russian attack.

Meanwhile, Creel is sitting back and benefiting from the global
panic that he has created. As Russia and China begin to square off
with each other, the ARES Corporation is selling trillions of
dollars in defense weaponry to all the major countries on the
planet. Creel is thrilled at the idea of bringing back the Cold War
and seeing himself in the role of liberator by taking the focus off
the Middle East and putting the world back into the days of
nuclear-war threat. With the help of Pender & Associates, it
appears this plan can do nothing but succeed and thereby cause the
loss of many lives around the globe.

The thrilling part of this novel is the level of suspense Baldacci
keeps up as he jumps between Shaw and James and the Creel/Pender
alliance. The reader will turn the pages briskly as the inevitable
meeting between these three characters will bring fireworks of
unknown catastrophe. At times, THE WHOLE TRUTH has the feel of a
James Bond adventure or one of Robert Ludlum’s
Bourne novels. I have enjoyed everything Baldacci has done
and hope that this is not the last time he ventures into the
international thriller genre, or the last we see of his great
protagonist, Shaw.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on January 24, 2011

The Whole Truth
by David Baldacci

  • Publication Date: April 22, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446195979
  • ISBN-13: 9780446507981