I’d read one novel by Brad Meltzer, the similarly-titled but otherwise unconnected THE BOOK OF FATE, as well as one trade paperback reprinting a story arc from his run as the writer of the Justice League of America comic book. Both of them were pretty good, so I didn’t hesitate to give his most recent novel a try. THE BOOK OF LIES combines two of Meltzer’s interests, thrillers and superheroes.
Cal Harper is a former Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who resigned after fouling up a case, and now he works with a homeless shelter in Fort Lauderdale. One day he runs across a homeless man who’s been wounded in a shooting, and this victim turns out to be Cal’s long-estranged father, who went to prison when Cal was a kid for accidentally killing Cal’s mother during an argument. It doesn’t take long for Cal to discover that his dad is now mixed up in some sort of dangerous conspiracy and trying to help him out puts Cal in danger, too, from a mysterious assassin. All of this turns out to be tied in with the unsolved 1932 murder of Mitchell Siegel, the father of Jerry Siegel, who was one of the creators of Superman.
Meltzer takes this actual bit of comic book history and spins a very elaborate yarn around it involving centuries-old conspiracies, war, murder, crooked federal agents, and a mystery dating back to biblical times. Does the whole thing border on being a little silly and over-the-top at times? Yeah, probably. But Meltzer keeps the pace moving along briskly and creates a likable protagonist in Cal, along with several hissable villains. It’s all pretty entertaining, and I definitely intend to read more of Meltzer’s novels, as well as his comic book work.
One stylistic note: There was a time when I wouldn’t have read a book like this, because it mixes not only first-person and third-person POV, but also past tense and present tense (first person present and third person past, to be specific). But I’ve gotten a little more tolerant of such things in recent years, and Meltzer makes it work pretty well here.
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