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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Book Review: The Inner Circle

When I got back into comic books and graphic novels, I picked up Identity Crisis. That's when I became familiar with the writing talents of Brad Meltzer.

It was several years later when I ran across a selection of books for $1 each and one of Meltzer's titles was among them, The Fifth Assassin. I bought it and enjoyed it. It led me to track down the book that preceded Fifth Assassin, The Inner Circle.

The Inner Circle was the first book to follow Beecher Write, an archivist who works with the most important U.S. government documents. He stumbles upon a 200-year-old dictionary that once belonged to George Washington and unravels a mystery surrounding the President of the United States and a host of others, among them White's childhood friend Clementine Kaye, whose father had attempted to kill the President.

The story starts off slowly, with Meltzer getting into some backstory, all while hinting about what's to come later. It picks up in the middle, though, and becomes more intriguing as Meltzer builds to the climax. This is one of Meltzer's strengths as a writer -- he does a good job building suspense and dropping hints early that all is not what it seems. There are moments in which it was tough to put the book down because I wondered what was going to happen next.

He's also good at keeping the reader guessing as to who, among those White encounters, is really being honest with him. There are instances in which Meltzer suggests that one person is to be trusted, but reveals later that's not the case. Other instances see Meltzer hint that somebody isn't trustworthy, but that person's honest becomes apparent later.

Meltzer mostly sticks to first-person narrative through White, but at times, will jump into a third-person limited viewpoint. That might be jarring to some readers who are used to sticking in with one or the other throughout a book. There are chapters in which he jumps back to past events; again, that might be jarring to readers who want a seamless flow of current events.

I believe Meltzer's ability to build suspense and intrigue is what really keeps the story strong. There are a few loose ends left dangling, but it's understandable because this is the first in The Culper Ring series. The Fifth Assassin is the second in the series and the third, The President's Shadow, was released this past summer.

You can order The Inner Circle through Amazon or visit your local bookstore.

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