Novelist Brad Meltzer is a man of many talents. He has written eight novels and one non-fiction book. He co-created the TV series "Jack and Bobby." He wrote the graphic novel "Justice League of America" and hosts the TV series "Brad Meltzer's Decoded." To say he is a busy man is an understatement. Maybe that is why his latest novel The Inner Circle feels like a story only half told.
In this book Meltzer weaves a story of political intrigue. His hero, archivist Beecher White, stumbles across a message hidden in a book in the National Archives. Shortly thereafter one of his friends, a co-worker, dies of an apparent heart attack. Beecher becomes suspicious of the circumstances of this death and begins to investigate.
This investigation leads him to a mystery involving the President of the United States and a coterie of his friends. This type of "circle of friends" protecting the President goes all the way back to the days of George Washington's Presidency. This group is made up of people who are totally loyal to the Presidency and remain secret so they can work more effectively.
Beecher gets drawn into the workings of this group, along with a childhood friend named Clementine. She comes to him asking for help locating her father, whom she has never known. She does know he was in the military and the approximate time of his enlistment. When Beecher determines who her father is it adds another piece to the puzzle surrounding the President.
The book gets quite complex plot wise and some of the coincidences are just too pat. Plus you have to wonder how Beecher can take so much time off from work without being missed. He seems to have freedom to go and come at will without any regard for his duties as an archivist.
When the end of the book comes it has been quite a ride but nothing has been resolved. It all seems to be a setup for another story at a future date. If the reader knew this going in then it might soften the disappointment, but there is nothing to indicate this is the first book in a series.
Meltzer is a good writer and he creates labyrinthine plots. He manages to keep it all straight so the reader can too. Plus the main characters are usually likable ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Beecher White certainly falls into this category.
Perhaps Meltzer is currently writing the sequel to this story and in it we will finally get the answers missing in this one. I certainly hope so.
The Inner Circle is published by Grand Central Publishing. It contains 449 pages and sells for $26.99,
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