Title: The Inner Circle
Author: Brad Meltzer
Release Date: January 11, 2011
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Beecher White works at the National Archives in Washington, DC as an archivist. It’s his job to find information, to discover things that have been hidden for years. When Beecher’s childhood crush Clementine shows up at the White House looking for information about the identity of her father, Beecher is in the mood to impress her. While making that effort, Beecher, Clementine, and a guard, Orlando, stumble into something involving the President of the United States, something much bigger and older than them that puts their lives in danger.
Let me start out this review by saying that I am a huge fan of Brad Meltzer. I really enjoyed his last book, The Book of Lies, and I just really like him as a person. I’ve seen him speak multiple times, even when I have no idea what book he’s promoting. He is so passionate and always has something interesting (and funny) to say. Therefore, I really wanted to love The Inner Circle; unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way.
Let’s start with Beecher. He was naïve and sometimes frustrating, but I couldn’t help but like him. From almost the very beginning of the novel, he is in way over his head and struggling to keep afloat. He has a real soft spot for Clementine (whom he calls Clemmie, which irritated me for some reason), even though he hasn’t seen her since he was in middle or high school. That blind faith in her becomes quite irritating as the novel progresses, as she has done nothing to earn his (or the reader’s) trust.
The Inner Circle was definitely not what I expected. It’s not the historical thriller that I thought it would be, and it doesn’t really serve as a standalone novel. I knew it was the first in a series, but usually in this genre, series have the same main characters, but the storylines are enclosed within each book. That’s not the case with The Inner Circle; the book sets up what is likely to be an exciting and thrilling overarching storyline. Once I realized that was the case, I was able to relax into the narrative and stop trying to figure out what in the world was going on and how it would be resolved in the few pages that were left.
The storyline of The Inner Circle is interesting, but it moves very, very slowly. It takes some time to figure out what is going on. As I mentioned before, because this is the first in a series, Meltzer could (and did) take his time setting up the premise of the entire novel. The pace picks up as the novel progresses, and by the end, I was riveted. But it took me awhile to get to that point; if I hadn’t had faith in Meltzer’s ability to tell a great story, I don’t know if I would have made it that far.
I feel like I’ve been harder on The Inner Circle than I should; after all, I did enjoy reading it. However, I just was looking so forward to this book that I was shocked by the fact that it wasn’t what I expected. I think that if this had been by an unknown author, I probably wouldn’t have any hesitation about it. That being said, I will definitely be picking up the future books in this series. Now that the premise is set up, I’m confident that Meltzer has some exciting things planned for Beecher’s future.