The Book of Lies (Brad Meltzer)

This book had me skeptical at first. What on earth does Superman have to do with the Biblical story of Cain and Abel?  Those dual storylines are intertwined in Brad Meltzer’s latest novel, The Book of Lies [LibraryThing / WorldCat]. I enjoyed Meltzer’s The Book of Fate [LibraryThing / WorldCat] last year [see: my review], and since his new volume carries a similar title and cover, I assumed it to be a thriller along the same lines.

Like it’s predecessor, The Book of Lies has secrets and tension points, but holds less suspense.  The story surrounds former federal agent Cal Harper and two people he just met. The heroes seek clues to resolve a mystery all the while being chased and monitored by an unknown figure, and escaping capture or death in scene after scene, from Florida to Ohio. Some clues require a suspension of belief.

[Tangent: I’m beginning to tire of the trend in contemporary novels in which characters find a crucial clue, destroy it or hoarde it from rivals, and luckily stumble upon the next breadcrumb. You would think that at least one fragile clue would have been dislodged accidentally over the decades, making the whole breadcrumb trail useless, impossible to pick up again. But where’s the story in that?]

What kept me reading The Book of Lies, ironically, was its hint of truth. Part of of Meltzer’s narrative involves the death of Mitchel Siegel, the real-life father of Superman’s comic book creator Jerry Siegel. Imaginatively spinning off the intriguing suspicion that young Siegel imagined a bullet-proof man after his father was felled by a bullet, Meltzer dives into the background of the world’s most famous superhero. The characters even spend a few action-packed scenes in Siegel’s home in Cleveland, where the boy first wrote about the Man of Steel. The line between Meltzer’s fiction and Siegel’s fact becomes blurred to such an extent that — as soon as I closed the book — I wanted nothing more than to search the Internet to find out what was true and what wasn’t. That curiosity truly added to the novel.

BTW: One fact I can offer without spoiling the story: Meltzer is involved in the crusade to preserve the Siegel home for its historic significance as Superman’s birthplace.

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