three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
36-Sept-Oct-2008
user_rating: 
0
Award Year: 
0

A-Rules of DeceptionChristopher Reich, the best-selling author of Numbered Account and the award-winning The Patriots Club, offers a smart, entertaining spy thriller.

The Story: When Dr. Jonathan Ransom, an accomplished mountaineer and a surgeon for Doctors Without Borders, embarks on a risky climb in the Swiss Alps, his wife, Emma, tragically falls through a crevasse and dies. The next day, he receives two baggage-claim tickets belonging to his wife. Though he is heartbroken, his curiosity draws him to a railway station to reclaim her possessions, where he finds himself attacked by two Swiss police officers. When he looks inside the baggage, Ransom starts to realize his wife kept deadly secrets, and he soon becomes involved in an international conspiracy involving global terrorism. His only shot at his—and perhaps the world’s—survival is to uncover Emma’s baffling past.
Doubleday. 400 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0385524064

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Mr. Reich turns out to have a turbo-charged plot in the offing, and he begins explicating it with more originality and verve than might initially have been expected. … And instead of grasping desperately for ways to expand on its premise, in the disappointing manner of many other such books, Rules of Deception develops an entertainingly serpentine complexity." Janet Maslin

Entertainment Weekly 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The villains, who range from a lone-wolf Salvadoran-born assassin to an Air Force hero-turned-murderous religious zealot, are a comparative letdown. … But Ransom himself is a compelling creation, and Reich concocts an elaborate, appealingly twisty plot to introduce him." Thom Geier

Rocky Mountain News 3 of 5 Stars
"Reich excels in blurring the lines so that readers question just who falls on which side, leading to a thrilling ride of international espionage. … Ransom’s larger-than-life persona, surgeon’s intellect, mountaineering skills, good looks and bravado are tailor-made for repeat performances." Gary Williams

Tampa Tribune 3 of 5 Stars
"Christopher Reich has written a fun thriller that is timely and frightening. Characters are realistic but lack a great deal of depth. … Yet, as the book reaches the end, the pages do fly." Larry Gandale

Critical Summary

Critics largely agreed that Rules of Deception is a smart, timely, and page-turning thriller. Filled with high-profile politicos, fake identities, and a nuclear arms conspiracy, the novel is so adeptly composed that readers were unable to quickly discern the good guys from the bad. Although one critic panned Ransom’s characterization, reviewers generally agreed that the doctor-climber is the quintessential classic espionage protagonist—a believable, compelling man, even if he does possess near-superhero powers. Critics diverged on a number of points, however. A few thought the elaborate subplots created intrigue and suspense, while others thought they overpowered the main plot. They also disagreed over whether the ending remained true to the story. But "[p]ut it all together," notes the New York Times, "and you get exactly the kind of page-turner that Mr. Reich promised."