Review: The Book of Lies, by Brad Meltzer

The Book of LiesFrom the jacket flap:

In chapter four of the Bible, Cain kills Abel. It is the world’s most famous murder. But the Bible is silent about one key detail: the weapon Cain used to kill his brother. That weapon is still lost to history.

In 1932 Mitchell Siegel was killed by two gunshots to the 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 Ford 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 marketings 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 forwrd 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.

What does Cain, history’s greatest villain, have to do with Superman, the world’s greatest hero? And what to two murders, committed thousands of years apart, have in common?

The Snapshot Review

What I Liked: The action is fast paced, and the pace never lets up; the characters are a little bit different from your run-of-the-mill best selling thriller novel; the plot is interesting and consistent. A real page turner.

And the Bonus! No gratuitous, graphic violence. There is violence, yes, but it’s definitely not gratuitous. Or particularly graphic.

Ms. Bookish’s Very Quick Take: Try to have a nice bit of time to sit down with this one, because it’s not an easy book to put down once you’ve started it.

The Full Review of The Book of Lies

The premise of The Book of Lies is pretty intriguing: what exactly does Superman have to do with the murder weapon that Cain used to kill Abel? And Meltzer doesn’t fail the reader; he delivers a fast-paced adventure that definitely kept me in suspense. And when a novel is a suspense/thriller, that’s a very good thing.

If you have a nice block of time to sit down with this book, you’ll find yourself getting through it at a fast gallop. No scene is wasted; every thing that happens, happens for a reason. Our credibility is never strained, because events stay within the boundaries of the story being told. And the result? A very definite page turner.

The plot was intricate enough to keep me guessing; while The Book of Lies is a thriller in that we know who the bad guy is from the very beginning, it’s also a mystery because there’s a second villain, and we don’t know who that person is until the end. By the end of the book, I had mentally pointed my finger of accusation at nearly every character (including the right one at one point), and there was great fun in that, too.

There were, however, a couple of inconsistencies. The main one wasn’t a big enough inconsistency to bother me while I was reading the book, but when I finished reading, I did go back to see if I might have missed something along the way. It doesn’t look like I did; the inconsistency is still there. It’s not a particularly fair inconsistency from my perspective as a reader, but overall, none of the inconsistencies stopped me from enjoying the book.

One of the things I liked most about the book is that Meltzer is able to maintain the suspense and level of tension without having to resort to graphic violence. It’s not often that you can sit down to a fun, suspenseful read without having to wade through at least a few pages here and there of brutality, horrors, blood and gore; while there’s violence in the book, it’s a part of the plot, rather than a plot device for maintaining a high level of tension. When it has to be depicted, Meltzer does so without sensationalizing it.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, suspenseful read, The Book of Lies won’t disappoint. The premise is intriguing and better yet, it stays intriguing. Right from the very beginning we are pulled into the story; the pacing is almost relentless. The tension never lets up. As soon as our questions are answered, more questions rise to take their place. Overall, it’s a definite page turner, with a denouement that answers all the questions and leaves you feeling satisfied with the ending. Ms. Bookish’s Rating: A-: Enjoyable Read ?

7 thoughts on “Review: The Book of Lies, by Brad Meltzer

  1. Ann

    Nice to see a good review of this. I’m getting an audiobook version to hopefully listen to on the plane (and when the relatives screaming at each other gets too loud) over the holidays.

  2. Ms. Bookish Post author

    It’s fast paced, so I think it will probably make a very good audiobook (although so much depends on the narrator). But if your relatives scream too loudly, you might not be able to hear!

  3. Drew

    I really like Meltzer and how he changes things up with each book. This was a different book than his normal thriller (usually dealing with the law in some form), and although different isn’t bad, it was a little weaker than his previous novels. Its main weakness was the lack of depth in the characters. Cal, tried to do the right thing by everyone, but didn’t come across as truly likable, Ellis was just a bad guy, who should have come across as more sinister, and Lloyd seemed to never know what he should be, when he should have been a little more conflicted in his past and present. Overall, good effort, but I’d only give it a B to a B+.

  4. Ms. Bookish Post author

    @Drew: This is the first Meltzer I’ve read, so perhaps I came to it with different expectations. It’s interesting how reviews can be so very different. I liked Cal as a protagonist, and Ellis came across to me as sociopathic, indifferent to normal concepts of good and evil. I do agree he wasn’t very sinister, but he was very focused on his goal and that combined with his indifference worked for me. Lloyd was extremely muddled about who he was and what he wanted but that fit into the story for me. I think I will give one of Meltzer’s older books a try now, if they are even better than The Book of Lies.

    @Kathy, I’m glad you enjoyed the book. And it must have been so nice to have the chance to talk to the author – reading the acknowledgments and the author’s note at the back, I felt he was very down-to-earth!


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