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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining thrills
This is the first Baldacci book I've read and I'll now go back and read others, including the previous Sean and Michelle books (plus I hope there'll be another). I found the book a fun, thrilling and fast read with enough background research to provide added interest (hadn't heard of quantum computers). OK, so at times it felt quickly written and could have done with a...
Published on 7 April 2008 by P Lewis

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How the mighty can fall....
This is the second Baldacci I've read recently and the deterioration in the quality of his writing over time is now very noticeable.

In this effort, which brings back former agents Sean and Michelle, now acting privately, he also introduces an unbelievably wild plot, albeit delivered with quite a lot of pace. But that's about it.

Coincidence upon...
Published on 23 May 2008 by johnverp


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining thrills, 7 April 2008
This review is from: Simple Genius (Paperback)
This is the first Baldacci book I've read and I'll now go back and read others, including the previous Sean and Michelle books (plus I hope there'll be another). I found the book a fun, thrilling and fast read with enough background research to provide added interest (hadn't heard of quantum computers). OK, so at times it felt quickly written and could have done with a little more depth, but I still found the book very enjoyable and I'm surprised at the negative reviews.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Code Enthusiast's Thriller, 5 May 2007
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
If you love books about secret codes, Simple Genius will be a book you'll long treasure. If you like thrillers that teem with action, sex scenes, obscure martial arts, and high-tech weaponry, this book will seem like a yawn.

As Mr. Baldacci warns you, don't read the Author's Note until after you finish the book. But don't miss that note if you read and like the book. It's a marvelous look into how the story was constructed.

What I found most delightful about Simple Genius was that the plot development kept surprising me. Sure, the general outlines are foreshadowed intentionally (so that you don't get lost in the maze of details), but the specifics shift unexpectedly. In fact, midway through the book, I literally jumped out of my chair with surprise when one change occurred involving the medical examiner.

Simple Genius is intellectually dense. You'll be exposed to more psychology, code breaking, quantum computers, and history than you would normally find in 20 thrillers combined. To Mr. Baldacci's credit, he keeps it as simple as possible without insulting your intelligence.

As the book opens, former Secret Service agents turned PIs, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell have hit bottom. They don't have any work, and Michelle picks a potentially lethal fight with the toughest guy she can find in the roughest bar in town. It takes the last of Sean's money, but he persuades Michelle to seek psychiatric help from an old friend, Dr. Horatio Barnes. Barnes quickly concludes that Michelle is punishing herself, but for what?

Desperate to keep Michelle in treatment, Sean calls his former love and begs for a job. He gets the job, on the condition that Michelle is kept away.

Sean is to find out why Monk Turing, a scientist, appears to have committed suicide inside the CIA's highly classified facility informally referred to as the Farm. The scientist had worked at a very secretive installation cross the river from the Farm. No one wants to tell Sean anything. He cannot even find out who his clients are.

Sean's heart is deeply touched by Viggie, the 11-year-old daughter of the scientist, a mathematical genius whose emotional and social development is retarded.

Sean finds he cannot make much progress until Michelle releases herself from the mental hospital. But can either of them count on her mental stability? Michelle finds herself in the unexpected nurturing role for Viggie.

Michelle is by far the most interesting character in the book. She's super human physically and intensely flawed psychologically at the same time, reminding me of the myth of Achilles. I found in her a metaphor for the modern world with its ability to do increasingly great things materially while becoming ever more spiritually and psychologically barren.

In addition to enjoying the thriller, you'll find this book will also leave you with lots of food for thought.

Enjoy!
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Code Enthusiast's Thriller, 5 May 2007
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
If you love books about secret codes, Simple Genius will be a book you'll long treasure. If you like thrillers that teem with action, sex scenes, obscure martial arts, and high-tech weaponry, this book will seem like a yawn.

As Mr. Baldacci warns you, don't read the Author's Note until after you finish the book. But don't miss that note if you read and like the book. It's a marvelous look into how the story was constructed.

What I found most delightful about Simple Genius was that the plot development kept surprising me. Sure, the general outlines are foreshadowed intentionally (so that you don't get lost in the maze of details), but the specifics shift unexpectedly. In fact, midway through the book, I literally jumped out of my chair with surprise when one change occurred involving the medical examiner.

Simple Genius is intellectually dense. You'll be exposed to more psychology, code breaking, quantum computers, and history than you would normally find in 20 thrillers combined. To Mr. Baldacci's credit, he keeps it as simple as possible without insulting your intelligence.

As the book opens, former Secret Service agents turned PIs, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell have hit bottom. They don't have any work, and Michelle picks a potentially lethal fight with the toughest guy she can find in the roughest bar in town. It takes the last of Sean's money, but he persuades Michelle to seek psychiatric help from an old friend, Dr. Horatio Barnes. Barnes quickly concludes that Michelle is punishing herself, but for what?

Desperate to keep Michelle in treatment, Sean calls his former love and begs for a job. He gets the job, on the condition that Michelle is kept away.

Sean is to find out why Monk Turing, a scientist, appears to have committed suicide inside the CIA's highly classified facility informally referred to as the Farm. The scientist had worked at a very secretive installation cross the river from the Farm. No one wants to tell Sean anything. He cannot even find out who his clients are.

Sean's heart is deeply touched by Viggie, the 11-year-old daughter of the scientist, a mathematical genius whose emotional and social development is retarded.

Sean finds he cannot make much progress until Michelle releases herself from the mental hospital. But can either of them count on her mental stability? Michelle finds herself in the unexpected nurturing role for Viggie.

Michelle is by far the most interesting character in the book. She's super human physically and intensely flawed psychologically at the same time, reminding me of the myth of Achilles. I found in her a metaphor for the modern world with its ability to do increasingly great things materially while becoming ever more spiritually and psychologically barren.

In addition to enjoying the thriller, you'll find this book will also leave you with lots of food for thought.

Enjoy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 3 Jan. 2008
By 
Teemacs (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Simple Genius (Paperback)
This is the third outing for David Baldacci's private detective team of Sean King and Michelle Maxwell, in which solving a case is complicated by the surfacing of Michelle's internal demons. One has to give the previous one-and two-star reviewers their due, there are indeed major implausibilities in the story, and there are places where the whole edifice starts to creak and groan noticeably. However, Baldacci is an outstanding story teller and in spite of these, I found myself carried along and really quite enjoyed the ride.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How the mighty can fall...., 23 May 2008
This review is from: Simple Genius (Paperback)
This is the second Baldacci I've read recently and the deterioration in the quality of his writing over time is now very noticeable.

In this effort, which brings back former agents Sean and Michelle, now acting privately, he also introduces an unbelievably wild plot, albeit delivered with quite a lot of pace. But that's about it.

Coincidence upon coincidence and just so many hard to believe components really killed this book for me. I kept going to the finish but I am sure my groans were quite audible in the end.

In short, in my view, Baldacci is no longer producing well-constructed tales written with flair.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant...., 15 May 2014
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What can I say about this book except READ it...it's brilliant, well thought out, executed to perfection and keeps you guessing till the end.

Involving quantum computers, a new thing for the future where a lot of numbers are being decoded by brilliantly minded scientists at a CIA/FBI facility in Virginia, USA which could have a devastating impact on the world as we know it today. These codes are much like the codes used in WW11 by the Germans which were cracked at Bletchley Park thus bringing an end to the war much sooner than expected. I was fortunate enough to have visited Bletchley a few months back and had to marvel at the many men and women who worked there during the war, their absolute commitment, hard work and sacrifice had a massive effect on what they did. Some of the girls were only 19 years old at the time and highly intelligent.

The story starts with Michelle who unfortunately starts to loose her grip after their last job, and becomes almost suicidal which confuses and concerns Sean. He manages to get her a place in an intuition where she can have therapy but as some of you know THAT is NOT what Michelle wants or thinks she needs!

Sean gets her the best help but she rebels against this and heads off to help Sean who has taken a job from Joan Dillinger so that he can earn enough money to pay for Michelle's care.

The story is long and very involved but secrets from Michelle's past come to the fore and we get a glimpse in to her younger life which explains in part why she is like she is...this is fascinating stuff!

I like to think there is more to Sean and Michelle's relationship than Baldacci has thus far revealed so I am hoping that it develops further along the romantic lines. I love them both too much not to want that NOT to happen.

Thank you David for one of the best reads I have read in a while apart from King and Maxwell so you have scored many points from me.

Highly recommended, if I could have given it 10 stars I would have!!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good plot, not a bad read, but....................., 23 Mar. 2013
By 
Mark Crook - See all my reviews
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the names of the characters - I would have given it 4* but knocked one off for the character names being so stupid.

OK, the theme is "genius" and a bunch of (as it turns out) questionable people of enormous intellect working on a quantum computer. Fair enough. Then we come across this character called "Champ Pollion". I mean, what? Champ Pollion? Do me a favour........... and then we get to Monk Turing............... excuse me?

As it happens, I realised as I read it that this was a game the author was playing - Champollion was a French scholar who first deciphered Egyptian heiroglyphs. So, fair enough. A genius. Turing, of course, the maths genius who worked on deciphering the Enigma codes in WW2. And that left someone called Len Rivest; what did he do? A quick meeting with that nice Mr Google informs that Ron Rivest was one of the three cryptologists who developed the RSA encryption algorithm. Fair enough.

Maybe it's just me but I found the Champ Pollion thing so excruciatingly silly it was off-putting right the way through the book. Without wanting to give too much away, the Turing character has evidently been flitting round here there and everywhere researching his namesake (he is, of course, related!) and has found his way into a top-secret CIA installation across the river from the place where the computer research is going on. Unsurprisingly, he turns up dead - enter King and Maxwell to investigate.

Turing's left a deeply strange pre-pubescent daughter who's a wizard of the piano keyboard and at improvisation of music. She also delights in a strange name - Vigenere, mercifully abbreviated to Viggi - and weaves in and out of the story, playing music to people if she likes them and sulking if she doesn't.

Overall, some good story ideas, some preposterous ones, but an easy read with good twists and turns. Not bad at all. The plot partnership of King and Maxwell is developing nicely and is a backdrop to the story here even as Baldacci continues the refuse them the, ah, out-of-hours mutual release (if you follow my drift) each of them craves. Especially Maxwell. King must be a saint.

If you like Baldacci's output you'll find little to quibble about here. Except maybe the names, of course!
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2.0 out of 5 stars OK thriller if you don't look too deep, 11 May 2010
By 
Daren Fulwell "darenv" (Preston, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Simple Genius (Paperback)
The first Baldacci I've read, and an interesting premise - a modern day code-breaker and relative of the legendary Alan Turing is found dead in a CIA facility having evidently decided to commit suicide. An out-of-work and out-of-town ex-Special Forces investigator is brought in to try and determine whether that was the case, and brings with him a whole load of baggage in the form of his investigative partner.

The plot weaves its way through top secret research, through top secret arms facilities, to top secret interrogation institutions, to a predictable final conclusion whereby all the secrets are ... well, kept a secret!

TBH, It feels like Mr Baldacci has crammed in as many different elements as he possibly can in order to keep your interest (including the dead man's autistic daughter, the partner's psychological issues stemming from an event in childhood, the conflict between man and The Man, the war in Afghanistan, spooks, colonial treasure and the Enigma code for starters) and by the end it starts to get in the way with a couple of jumps in the plot which simply don't join up. Add to that the fact that Baldacci completely over-eggs the references to historical code-breakers and historical figures in computing - both overt and implicit, and you get the feeling it's all a bit forced. The bolted-on ending (three unnecessary chapters' worth) and the mad Author's notes where he completely deconstructs his own premise just add to the feeling that this was a part-written book which was then finished in a hurry to meet a deadline.

That said, the characters were likeable enough though slightly implausible (particularly the psych-on-a-bike Horatio Barnes) and the writing did keep the story moving along quickly enough.

A shame - it doesn't make me want to read more Baldacci.

And if you're interested in code-breaking, try Robert Harris' Enigma!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Puerile Nonsense, 15 July 2007
This review is from: Simple Genius (Hardcover)
Having read the cover blurb and some of Baldacci's previous works I had high hopes of this one. How deluded can I get?. I soon found out that the plot is puerile and entirely predictable. In the first few chapters we encounter "Champ Pollion", Monk "Turing" and "Babbage" Town at which point I concluded that the only things missing so far were The Rosetta Stone, the Enigma machine and the Differential Engine. This book is clearly aimed at the intellectually challenged and those who may find the entirely predictable cast of characters vaguely believable. In my case the suspension of disbelief was way over the horizon. As usual nowadays we have to have the stereotypical uber-female in the form of Michelle, the Olympic super-fit martial arts expert who, we are led to imagine, can dump the chumps (males, inevitably) who oppose her with a hard stare or a flick of finger. Then we have dear old bumbling Sean, the plodding father-figure lawyer-type who has yet to bed his partner after working with her for years; I suppose this scenario is meant to create some sexual tension in an otherwise banal plot. I must admit I did not finish the book, by the time I was over half way through it I was so bored and irritated that I shredded it even though I had only purchased it the day before. Take my advice and give this one a miss.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars oh dear, 21 Dec. 2007
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This review is from: Simple Genius (Paperback)
This unfortunate book has all the marks of being two pieces of written work, neither big enough to be a book in their own right being thrust together in same vain attempt to produce a viable publication. The main story is well enough written, but the 2nd essay inserted into the book is just that, the main story does not benefit from it, and it makes no impact nor interaction with the main story. Placing the end of the 2nd book at the end of the main tale only means the reader can ignore the last chapter completely
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Simple Genius (King and Maxwell)
Simple Genius (King and Maxwell) by David Baldacci (Paperback - 7 Nov. 2013)
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