Archive | 10:45 AM

Book Review: The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer (4/5)

3 Nov

When I learned Meltzer was coming to my local area a few years ago, I went about buying copies of his novels at used book sales. They’re now signed and sitting on my shelf, waiting with many other books to be read. I grabbed this on audio in an attempt to finish it sooner.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer

Other books by this author:

The Inner Circle

Summary from Goodreads:

In 1932, Mitchell Siegel was killed by three gunshots to his chest. While mourning, his son dreamed of a bulletproof man and created the world’s greatest hero: Superman. And like Cain’s murder weapon, the gun used in this unsolved murder has never been found.

Today in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Cal Harper comes face-to-face with his own family tragedy: his long-missing father has been shot with a gun that traces back to Mitchell Siegel’s 1932 murder. But soon after their surprising reunion, Cal and his father are attacked by a ruthless killer tattooed with the ancient markings of Cain.

So begins the chase for the world’s first murder weapon. It is a race that will pull Cal back into his own past even as it propels him forward through the true story of Cain and Abel, an eighty-year-old unsolvable puzzle, and the deadly organization known for the past century as the Leadership.

This book was more or less what I expected based on the other Meltzer book I’d read. It was fast paced, people turned out to be nothing like the first impressions we got of them, and people got betrayed. It’s pretty standard for a thriller. What I really liked and what stuck out to me was the Jerry Siegel parts and how much of that ended up being true. Knowing that Melter did a lot of research to add that element to his book impressed me and I thought it was a fun twist.

I wasn’t a fan of any of the characters which is why I didn’t like this book more. Cal was a saint, always sacrificing. His father was a lying jerk and Serina was too unbelievable for me. Without being able to cheer for a good guy, I was at a loss of whom to like in this book and though I briefly thought about cheering for the bad guys, they weren’t a good ‘love to hate ’em’ group.

Despite how things ended, Roosevelt was my favorite character. I thought he had the most believable motivation for why he was working with Cal and he was smart, that can’t be denied. I won’t’ say too much more but I was sad he ended the way he did because I wanted good things for his character and it just didn’t work out. Darn.

Thrillers give a situation where it’s hard to relate to the characters, or at least I’ve always felt that way. I’ve never done anything in my life as high risk and fast-paced as these characters and I haven’t lived as troubled a life as they had prior to the book. To me, this is the biggest fault of the genre.

Brad Meltzer and me

Brad Meltzer and me

I enjoyed the scenes in Cleveland where the team explored the old Siegel house. I thought it was really fun that Meltzer included something as mundane as the creator’s house but made it such a pivotal part of the book. The creator’s home is something fanatical fans would love but most people would think was an unnecessary detail. Though what they found seemed too convenient to me.

A lot of things in the book were too convenient and took away from my enjoyment of it. Serina being at the airport. Finding the drawings in the wall. Cal deciding to include Roosevelt in all of his decisions. The… well, at the end. The thing being on the wall. I don’t think that’s giving too much away. Overall, there were too many things that made me to, “Really?!” to enjoy the book completely.

My audiobook was narrated by Scott Brick. I thought Brick did a good job but nothing stand-out. His voice built suspension in the right places and he didn’t use accents so outrageous that I didn’t believe them. As I say often, he didn’t have a great voice for the women, but not many men do.

I thought there would be a theme about family in this book, but it didn’t strike home for me. Cal and his father never have the reconciliation I was keeping my fingers crossed for and I found it hard to think his opening up about his mother was enough to be a theme. As with other thrillers, I find it hard to identify a message in the book. It’s more about enjoyment.

Writer’s Takeaway: Working two unrelated things like Superman and Cain was a really fun trip. I liked that Meltzer brought such unrelated things together for the book and made it fun to read. As a historical fiction writer, I’m always trying to think of historical things to bring into my book that can be accurate yet add another layer to the story. Maybe I’ll have to look up Superman next time I need some inspiration.

Enjoyable and fun. Four out of Five Stars

Until next time, write on.

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