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Mystery Book Review: Simple Genius by David Baldacci

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Simple Genius was written by David Baldacci and published in April of 2007.

It is the third book of the King and Maxwell series and comes after Split Second and Hour Game. Reading the first two books would make reading this one even more enjoyable.

The most important topics in this series are quantum computers, protective codes and how to break them, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), destructive obsessions, and a hidden treasure.

The CIA is the leading agency of the United States of America that provides global intelligence in constantly changing political, social, economic, technological, and military backdrops. Its mission is to protect America's national security. (Wikipedia)


This book is a thriller novel about murders perpetrated in a shady world that involves two top secret American establishments: a CIA training camp that seems to hide dirty operations, and a computer laboratory.

People who work in this unusual laboratory are mathematicians and computer geniuses who experiment with codes and numbers, and do research on quantum computers.

Main Characters

Sean King is a former Secret Service agent. A neat freak and a loyal friend, he tries his best to stand up for what he believes in and do the right thing by his country and his fellow Americans. He uncovers laundering and dirty operations run by a highly placed CIA operative.

Michelle Maxwell is a former Secret Service agent, former athlete, and Olympian silver medal winner. She is Sean’s business partner and friend. A tough cookie, she does not shy away from a fight, but harbors a dark secret that affects her behavior. Sean goes to great length to help her deal with her personal issues. He forces her to seek counselling to help her uncover a secret buried deep down within herself for a long time.

Vigenère (Viggie) Turing is an eleven-year-old genius girl with knowledge that could help solve a murder and uncover the truth. Sean and Michelle work hard to reach her as her genius mind closes on itself since she does not have the ability to relate to other people in a normal way.

Ian Whitfield is an ex-military and a Vietnam war hero. He heads a CIA advanced training camp. He plays an important at the end of the book in changing the outcome.

Horatio Barnes is a psychiatrist who feels way over his head when he is dragged into an adventure to which he is not prepared.

Set Up

The chapters alternate mostly between Sean and Michelle, as they struggle and face puzzling situations, deceit, and danger.

A few chapters show them together facing death or attempting the impossible.

A couple of chapters take place in a counselling setting.

What I Liked About This Book

I liked the unpredictable situations and the fact that the individuals who I thought were bad turned out to be good, and those who I thought were loyal turned out to be untrustworthy.

I was kept on my toes trying to figure out who to trust and who to accuse.

There were many surprises, some small and some not so small.

I learned about watercraft and how to face a storm while in the water.

What I Did not Like

I felt disturbed by the torture scene. It reminded me of stories I heard about tortures in third world countries run by dictators, where there are no laws and where human rights are not respected.

The fighting scenes explain in an obvious way how to target areas in someone’s body to hit and injure.

Would I Read Another Book by Baldacci?

Yes, I would certainly read other books by David Baldacci. He does not repeat himself and his books have lots of actions and surprises.

My Ranking

Two thumbs up!

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.