February 1, 2011

Book Review: THE INNER CIRCLE by Brad Meltzer

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  There are stories no one knows. Hidden stories. I love those stories. And since I work in the National Archives, I find those stories for a living.

So says Beecher White, a young archivist who spends his days working with the most important documents of the U.S. government. When Clementine Kaye, his first childhood crush, shows up at the Archives asking for his help tracking down her long-lost father, Beecher tries to impress her by showing her the secret vault where the President of the United States privately reviews classified documents. It is also where Beecher and Clementine accidentally happen upon a priceless artifact-a 200-year-old dictionary that once belonged to George Washington-hidden inside a desk chair. Eager to discover why the President is hiding this important national treasure, the two soon find themselves entangled in a web of deception, conspiracy, and murder that will reveal the most well kept secret of the U.S. Presidency.

The back cover of Brad Meltzer's newest thriller proclaims "Secrets.  Lies. Power. Betrayal.  Murder. . . The Inner Circle - Once you're inside, there's no way out."  That pretty well sums it up. 

This was my first Meltzer book and being a fan of the thriller genre, not to mention adventure movies like National Treasure (where there are quite a few similarities to The Inner Circle), I thought this would be a fun and entertaining book. 

The backdrop for the story is phenomenal.  I loved reading about The National Archives, the secret vault and the inner workings of the U.S. government.  Meltzer's writing was descriptive and colorful, allowing this reader to visually grasp the ins and outs.  The average layperson would easily be able to follow the story; he doesn't pepper the tale with too many characters or too much prose. 

I wish there had been more references to the history involved, which I found fascinating.  A 200 year old dictionary belonging to George Washington, you say?  I would have thoroughly enjoyed getting more of a peek as to everything that was written in that book rather than just a scrumptious taste here and there. 

The book's hero, Beecher, was a perfect anti-hero in the sense that he wasn't an everyday Joe.  He was a loner, kept to himself and more than just a bit of a nerd.  He appeared to live solely for his job, with not even so much as a cat or dog waiting at home for him.  The reappearance of a childhood friend after many years, an accidental find in a room he isn't supposed to be in and a sudden death throws Beecher's world into a tailspin and himself into a whirlwind of espionage and conspiracy and a fight for his life. 

I liked Beecher precisely because he wasn't an everyday Joe and his actions and feelings were realistic without being calculated.  He never seemed to act out of character; rather, he reacted perfectly in character to the world spinning out of control around him. 

As much as I enjoyed the overall story and Beecher, I did feel as if there was something missing - - maybe that one puzzle piece that is never located or waiting on the edge of your seat for something that never happens.  The ending, however, was relatively satisfying, if a bit unresolved,leaving the door open for a sequel that I would welcome. 

In short, I found The Inner Circle to be a fast paced, adventurous thriller that kept me entertained for the duration and Brad Meltzer an author that could easily be put on my "go to" list.  If you like political thrillers and books that are geared for entertainment, The Inner Circle will be a good fit.

The Inner Circle is available for purchase now at major booksellers, including Amazon. I am an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through my link, I will receive a small commission.

For more information on author Brad Meltzer, please visit his website

Review copy of this book provided by Hachette Book Group in exchange for a fair and honest review. In no way did the provision of the book affect the outcome of my review.

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