Perhaps this is cheating, but I am starting this post before I have finished the book. Somehow, I don’t think I will miss anything. The Book of Fate is Brad Meltzer’s attempt to ride on the coattails of such stellar films as the National Treasure series (in the interest of full disclosure, I have seen and will admit to enjoying somewhat the first NT film).
One fateful (ha ha ha) day, presidential aide Wes Holloway is in the wrong place at the wrong time as a lunatic attempts to assassinate his boss, the president. Though Wes’ face is devastated by a bullet, it appears that the only casualty is the president’s deputy Chief of Staff and close friend Ron Boyle. Imagine Wes’ surprise 8 years later when it appears that Boyle is in fact alive. And all of a sudden, shady FBI-types are after him. Wes soon discovers the existence of The Three and the Roman, more shady types who appear to be behind Boyle’s faked death. But what is their role? What do they want? And best of all, the lunatic behind the assassination attempt escapes from his mental hospital with plans to target Wes, whom he believes is an apprentice of The Beast. Yes, Satan. THAT Beast. Is there a Freemason plot going all the way back to that ol’ rascal TJ (Thomas Jefferson) and majestic GW (George Washington)? Is the former president involved? And can Wes trust his friends? All these burning questions will be answered in The Book of Fate.
Oy vey. I picked up this book because I like a good thriller as much as the next person. But I like a well-plotted thriller most of all! I think the Publisher’s Weekly Review said it best when it wrote, “…readers looking for efficient plotting may be disappointed.” Indeed. First of all, what kind of moron is Wes? How can a man in his early 30s who has worked so close to so much power (he is still working for the former president 8 years after the fact) be so naive? Granted, Meltzer is probably trying to illustrate how the president has become a father figure to Wes and that he is utterly BETRAYED by what he learns, but it comes off as an unbelievable tendency to trust. There’s a lot going on in the book, and it’s a bit confusing because the point of view shifts from character to character with each chapter. It appears that the FreeMason plot may be only a red herring to reel in the insane assassin, Nico, which is actually kind of disappointing to me because as I’ve pointed out before, I like a good conspiracy theory. Perhaps most damning, all the characters are one-dimensional. ALL of them. Even freakin’ Wes, the biggest, most gullible fool in the world. Really, I’m amazed he can tie his shoes, drive a car or feed himself.
What I did like and what Meltzer got right was the details about the presidency and its inner workings. The best parts of the book are when he details how it feels to be an ex-president. It’s actually very poignant, and it makes you feel for these men who must resume a somewhat normal life after years in the most powerful position in the world.
I hesitate to recommend this as even a “beach read.” Instead, pick up old John Grisham. I kept thinking how much more interesting this book would have been if it were The Pelican Brief or even had half its snap.