DECEPTION POINT

Author: Dan Brown

Publication: 2001

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Language: English

Main Characters: Rachel Sexton, Michael Tolland, Thomas Sedgewick Sexton, Corky Marlinson, Zachary Herney, William Pickering

Narrator: Narrator of the novel is third person and is narrated from the different perspectives of the various characters.

Theme: Deception and the search for the truth is one of the main themes of the book. The title, Deception Point, even reinforces this. The main plot is hinged on a large-scale fraud designed to ensure NASA’s future. The subplot of Senator Sexton accepting illegal campaign contributions is also about Sexton deceiving others, and throughout the novel, Sexton is described as a consummate liar. References to high tech military and intelligence equipment are also generally described as secret, and Pickering’s concerns about security relate to keeping information from the public so as to protect national security.

Plot Summary

Deception Point is a mystery and suspense thriller that combines in-depth knowledge of classified intelligence with high-tech weaponry and presidential politics in a very fast-paced, suspenseful novel. There are many plot twists and surprises throughout the story, and a wealth of interesting characters.

On the Milne Ice Shelf in the far north, a meteorite has been discovered under the ice that contains fossils of large bugs; proof of life on other planets. NASA is there, along with four civilian scientists to verify that the meteorite and its fossils are authentic. Rachel Sexton, a highly-competent, intelligence analyst with the National Reconnaissance Office, is sent there by the President of the United States to also confirm what has been found. Rachel is the daughter of Presidential candidate Senator Sedgewick Sexton, who is running against the current President and is ahead in the polls.

The President goes live with a press conference to announce to the world NASA’s discovery of proof of extra-terrestrial life. Rachel, after first verifying that the meteorite is real, begins to see some strange contradictions, and along with Michael Tolland, an oceanographer, and some others, embarks on a terrifying quest to find out the truth behind the meteorite. Along the way, they are attacked by assassins and barely escape with their lives from some terrifying situations.

Meanwhile, the race for the presidential election hangs in the balance, as a NASA victory will cement the current President’s place in the White House, but evidence of a NASA conspiracy will ensure that Sexton wins the election. The book climaxes with Rachel and Michael finding all the evidence they need to prove that the meteorite is fake, while simultaneously escaping from a team of deadly assassins, and the mastermind of the conspiracy, William Pickering, Rachel’s boss and the director of her intelligence agency.

The White House tells the world that the meteorite was planted; Sexton is betrayed by his closest adviser, disgraced by a sex scandal, and threatened with blackmail regarding illegal campaign practices. Michael and Rachel get together in the end, and the media speculates that the current President will keep his office for another term.

 

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Characters

Authentication team: During the story, NASA invites five external experts to help authenticate the meteorite finding as secondary sources:

  • Rachel Sexton: A data analyst for NRO and Senator Sexton’s daughter.
  • Michael Tolland: An oceanographer and television celebrity-scientist,
  • Corky Marlinson: A world-renowned astrophysicist and a staunch proponent of the authenticity of the meteorite
  • Norah Mangor: A prickly glaciologist,
  • Wailee Ming: A paleontologist with an impeccable dress habit

Politicians:

  • Zachary Herney: The President of the United States.
  • Senator Thomas Sedgewick Sexton: Rachel’s father and an ambitious presidential candidate
  • Marjorie Tench: Senior Adviser to the president.
  • Gabrielle Ashe: Senator Sexton’s aide and one-time mistress

NASA:

  • Lawrence Ekstrom: Administrator of NASA
  • Chris Harper: NASA section manager

NRO:

  • William Pickering: The main antagonist, director of NRO and the handler of the Delta Force team
  • Delta Force team: A team of three, apparently male, they are the death squad of William Pickering..

Review

Struggling to rebound from a series of embarrassing blunders that have jeopardized its political life at the start of this lively thriller, NASA makes an astounding discovery: there is a meteor embedded deep within the arctic ice. And it isn’t just any meteor. Inside the huge rock, which crashed to earth in 1716, are fossils of giant insects—proof of extraterrestrial life.

Yet, given NASA’s slipping reputation, the question arises: Is the meteor real or a fake? That uncertainty dogs NASA and its supporters in Dan Brown‘s latest page-flipper, a finely polished amalgam of action and intrigue. Trying to determine the truth are intelligence agent Rachel Sexton and popular oceanographer Michael Tolland, both among the first to suspect something is amiss when the meteor is pulled from the ice. Their doubts quickly make them the targets of a mysterious death squad controlled by someone or something that doesn’t want the public to hear the meteor may be a fraud. Together, Sexton and Tolland scramble across arctic glaciers, take refuge on ice floes, are rescued by a nuclear submarine, then find themselves trapped aboard a small research vessel off the coast of New Jersey.

All the while, the nation’s capital is buzzing as to whether NASA has engaged in deception. Or is NASA just a dupe for aerospace companies that have long wanted a bigger share of space contracts? Dan Brown  moves into new territory with this book. It’s an excellent thriller—a big yet believable story unfolding at breakneck pace, with convincing settings and just the right blend of likable and hateful characters. He’s also done his research, folding in sophisticated scientific and military details that make his plot far more fulfilling than the norm.

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