Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer reviewed by mrneil98

     I finished The Inner Circle three days ago and my mind is still racing. The final third of the book has so many twists and turns I thought I was on a Disney ride, but the literary journey was far more enjoyable. I have been a fan of Meltzer since reading Book of Fate several years ago and found it quite to my liking. His next, Book of Lies was even better in my opinion so I’m am not certain why I had hesitated when The Inner Circle was released. Perhaps I was reluctant, fearing another political potboiler and not wishing to mix my thrillers with politics. I should have known better from Meltzer.

     The Inner Circle is more about relationships (personal and family), teenage angst, fears and triumph than about politics. The protagonist is Beecher White, a 30 year old working at the National Archives in DC, who looks back at the past to avoid thinking about his uncertain future. His life is forever altered when his first crush, Clementine, unexpectedly reenters his life. Together they stumble upon the Culper Ring, a secret society formed by George Washington to assist the president with “delicate” matters. The ring has survived for over 200 years and is using the archives to pass secret messages to the current president.

Complications ensue and allegiances become blurred with Beecher not knowing who to believe or even trust. Meltzer is a master of secret and mysterious societies. He is the creator and host of The History Channel’s Decoded series, which had an episode in Season 1 on George Washington’s Inner Circle. His historical research aids lends creedence to the activities but what elevates The Inner Circle are the characters that make us care. Clementine is a walking dichotomy, tough and independent, yet vulnerable and in need of assistance. Beecher is honest and honorable, yet has to question his alliances and morals. Even the president is a multifaceted character, delicately balancing country and family.

The Inner Circle, recently released in paperback, is a wonderful way to while away the time as the days become shorter and the evenings become cooler. Hunker down with a thriller that keeps you guessing, but also caring, until the end.

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