TITLE: The Book of Fate
AUTHOR: Brad Meltzer
STARTED: Feb. 8, 2007
FINISHED: Feb. 15, 2007
FIRST SENTENCE: Six minutes from now, one of us would be dead.
SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Eight years ago, presidential aide Wes Holloway survived the attack of a crazed assassin that killed the chief executive's oldest friend, Ron Boyle. Now permanently disfigured, Holloway receives a report that sounds impossible: Half a world away, Boyle has been spotted alive and well. Not surprisingly, Wes becomes almost unnaturally obsessed with the truth behind the sighting. Before his quest ends, it will lead him deep into Washington cover-ups, Masonic secrets, and an intricate code invented by Thomas Jefferson.
REASON FOR READING: I heard the author discuss the book at the National Book Festival, and was more than a little intrigued.
THOUGHTS: If you read the above summary and then expect that to be what this book is about, you'll be sorely disappointed. Washington cover-ups there are aplenty (even though the majority of the book - all by 20 or so pages is spent in Florida), but there really is squat when it comes to Masonic Secrets and an intricate code. In fact, aside from a few maps that just seem thrown in for randomness, there really is no connection to the Masons or their legend. As for the code, sure it exists, but the role it plays is so minor that I was sorely disappointed. I expected this book to read like The DaVinci, crap writing, crap characters, but a great plot. I got, instead, a watered down Vince Flynn novel that was more poorly written than The DaVinci Code.
I heard Meltzer talk about this book at last year's National Book Festival - he sold his book as being this grand novel about the secrets encoded into D.C.'s geography by the Masons. He sold his book as being about an old code establish by Jefferson. What he delivered was nothing more than a political thriller that lacked pizzaz, mystery, or even a decent plot line. I was bored and even more confused. I've only read one of Meltzer's other books, The First Counsel, and I loved. The plot was fast paced, intricate, and intriguing.
The Book of Fate on the other hand seems like a sophomoric effort at best. The characters were extraordinarily one-dimensional - the good guys were very good, the bad guys were very bad. Sure the bad guys tried to appeared good, but you knew they were slimy from their first introduction. I could see the "twists" coming chapters before they occurred. What's worse, I felt cheated with this book. I wanted serious discussion of the Masons. Instead, what little bits there are about that are simply thrown in - with the crazy character. That's right the crazed assassin is really crazy, everyone in the book knows he's legitimately crazy, so you, the reader, know that he is crazy. He's got the most intriguing part of the storyline (the tiniest tidbits about the Masons and the general mystery of the book), but you can't take it seriously because you know he's crazy.
On top of all of that, Meltzer makes juvenile mistakes. He'll introduce characters in such a way that you don't really know who they are. Within the first three pages I was confused. He says a "Manning" is in the limo and then he talks about the President. So I though Manning and the President were two different people. Nope. Same person. The writing was trite and tiresome - I actually feel dumber after reading this book. And I read romance novels. A lot of romance novels. Hell, this book even make the 200 pages Harlequins seem like Proust.
I wanted to throw this book against the wall because it was just so damn bad. I don't know what happened to Meltzer. He didn't even phone this one in - he just blew it. A novel of intrigue and mystery should keep me intrigued. I should not feel the desire to laugh at every new "twist and hope all the characters die because they're all so cliched.
A note to all you authors and publishers out there: don't promise a book about the Masons and old codes if what you're selling is actually a horrendous attempt to rip-off of Tom Clancy. It makes the reader feel cheated, frustrated, and just plain pissed off.
MISCELLANEOUS: Someone should actually write the book the summary is trying to sell.
KEEP/SHARE/CRINGE(?): Back to Jennifer and good riddance with it.
RATING: 1/10 [Don't waste your time / Awful]