Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer

What do Superman, Cleveland, and the biblical story of Cain and Abel have in common?  I don't know and I just finished Brad Meltzer's The Book of Lies where these are all central plot elements.

OK, I'm being a little harsh just for effect.  Meltzer does weave those elements and more into his tale but it's just a little too loosely woven for my liking.

Eighteen years ago Cal Harper, then a young boy, witnessed his father accidentally kill his manic depressive mother. Off to jail his father went, never to return to Cal's life even after his release from prison.

That is, until today.  Cal, now working with the homeless in Fort Lauderdale, finds his father in a local park late at night with a gunshot wound.  If that isn't surprising enough, tests on the bullet taken out of his father indicate it came from a gun last used in the murder of the father of Superman's creator.

When released from the hospital, father and son find themselves being pursued by a killer tattooed with the mark of Cain and federal agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, both seeking the contents of a freight container that Cal's father was supposed to be transporting.  Their search for the truth and the ensuing chase take them to Cleveland, lured by the promise of ancient relics with magical powers.

I think you can see that this story has many parallels with Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code.  But just as Cleveland doesn't compare well to Rome, The Book of Lies requires me to make too many leaps of faith.  I'd like to think I'm as good as the next guy at suspending belief to enjoy a book or film but there were many times when things just didn't make sense or when there were just too many voids in a character to justify their actions.

Overall it was a nice tale of intrigue with some thought provoking moments about sons and their fathers.  The book ends with a nice message.  And Scott Brick's narration of the audio book version of the novel is very good - he's one of the better voice actors out there.

You can learn more about Brad Meltzer and his other novels at

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