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Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer

The Inner CircleThe Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb:  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.
Beecher White, a young archivist, spends his days working with the most important documents of the U.S. government. He has always been the keeper of other people's stories, never a part of the story himself...

Until now.

When Clementine Kaye, Beecher's first childhood crush, shows up at the National 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. After they accidentally happen upon a priceless artifact - a 200 hundred-year-old dictionary that once belonged to George Washington, hidden underneath a desk chair, Beecher and Clementine find themselves suddenly entangled in a web of deception, conspiracy, and murder.

Soon a man is dead, and Beecher is on the run as he races to learn the truth behind this mysterious national treasure. His search will lead him to discover a coded and ingenious puzzle that conceals a disturbing secret from the founding of our nation. It is a secret, Beecher soon discovers, that some believe is worth killing for.

Gripping, fast-paced, and filled with the fascinating historical detail for which he is famous, THE INNER CIRCLE is a thrilling novel that once again proves Brad Meltzer as a brilliant author writing at the height of his craft. 

"Read" as an audiobook.  I enjoyed the narrator - good voices, nice intonation, a pleasure to listen to.  

The story?  Meh, not so much.  The jacket blurb listed this as "gripping" and "fast paced".  Unfortunately, this read like a first novel with repetitive phrases, overly drawn out explanations that came across like info-dumps, and overdone comparisons (as in, "my legs felt like toothpicks, brittle and ready to break" or "my limbs felt like fishbones, ready to snap"). 

The main character seemed to spend most of his time rushing/dashing/running/lunging about, reacting prematurely to events rather than stepping back and thinking things through like the smart guy he was supposed to be. Nothing gripping about it and the only thing fast paced was when the main character was running down a hallway.

I have to admit, the premise of the plot was interesting enough, a secret cabal that surrounds and protects the president and has since George Washington, only now there might be two such groups - which group is the *real* one?  But the story falters with Beecher, the protagonist, and series of compounding stupid-ass mistakes for someone who was supposed to be semi-genius, that had me cursing, rolling my eyes and muttering dark things under my breath.

Ultimately, what could have been a fairly interesting mystery was lost in repetition, info dumps, and poor character development.  Recommended with significant reservations.

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