Book Review: The Inner Circle – Brad Meltzer

Title: The Inner Circle
Author: Brad Meltzer
ISBN: 9780446577892
Pages: 464
Release Date: January 11, 2011
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Thriller
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Summary:

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.

Review:

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.

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Comments

  1. This author certainly has his fans! But in the mystery thriller world, you have to draw the line somewhere. THere are just so many average ones.

  2. This author certainly has his fans! But in the mystery thriller world, you have to draw the line somewhere. THere are just so many average ones.

  3. Sorry to hear that this was not what you had been expecting. It does sound as though Meltzer was trying to get his footing in this one, perhaps to be better able to form his sequels. I am not really the audience for this type of book, but I did enjoy reading your review!

  4. Sorry to hear that this was not what you had been expecting. It does sound as though Meltzer was trying to get his footing in this one, perhaps to be better able to form his sequels. I am not really the audience for this type of book, but I did enjoy reading your review!

  5. I have been having this experience w/ a few books lately–I keep wondering if I was expecting too much or not, although I do believe a wonderful story does speak for itself… 🙂

  6. I have been having this experience w/ a few books lately–I keep wondering if I was expecting too much or not, although I do believe a wonderful story does speak for itself… 🙂

  7. I hope it was a case of having your expectations set too high, because I’m a Meltzer fan too.

  8. I hope it was a case of having your expectations set too high, because I’m a Meltzer fan too.

  9. Never read anything by this author so I am not sure if this one is for me.

  10. Never read anything by this author so I am not sure if this one is for me.

  11. I’m a Meltzer fan but have been increasingly disappointed by his books. I read this one and didn’t enjoy it as much I thought I would either. I didn’t realize it was the first of a series. It didn’t even occur to me at the end that it might continue … I thought it was just sloppy and loose ends. I don’t think you were too hard on it … I really struggled to like it too!

  12. I’m a Meltzer fan but have been increasingly disappointed by his books. I read this one and didn’t enjoy it as much I thought I would either. I didn’t realize it was the first of a series. It didn’t even occur to me at the end that it might continue … I thought it was just sloppy and loose ends. I don’t think you were too hard on it … I really struggled to like it too!

  13. Anonymous says:

    It is helpful that you mentioned this book is first in a series. I did not know that when I read the book and I was *fuming* at the end of what I thought was a self-contained story. When you aren’t expecting a “what happens next?” ending, getting one can be most unwelcome.

    For thriller/Meltzer/conspiracy fans, just sit back, read and enjoy the wandering tale knowing more is to come.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It is helpful that you mentioned this book is first in a series. I did not know that when I read the book and I was *fuming* at the end of what I thought was a self-contained story. When you aren’t expecting a “what happens next?” ending, getting one can be most unwelcome.

    For thriller/Meltzer/conspiracy fans, just sit back, read and enjoy the wandering tale knowing more is to come.

  15. Anonymous says:

    BTW, I think Meltzer needs to calm down all of his characters names, not just “Clemmie.”

    Who lives in a world where you are surrounded by people named Tot, Dallas, Beecher, Nico, Clemmie, Rina? No one does. I work with several Mikes and two Brendas. No “Aristotles” in my office.

  16. Anonymous says:

    BTW, I think Meltzer needs to calm down all of his characters names, not just “Clemmie.”

    Who lives in a world where you are surrounded by people named Tot, Dallas, Beecher, Nico, Clemmie, Rina? No one does. I work with several Mikes and two Brendas. No “Aristotles” in my office.

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