The Book of Secrets

Life has been rather hectic lately and I haven’t many opportunities to go online, other than to work on a website I’m putting together for an acquaintance. There has been some downtime, however, with my latest read The Book of Secrets by Tom Harper.

I bought it on the strength of  The Lazarus Vault which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, having enjoyed both the story and the writing. The Book of Secrets didn’t disappoint.

Harper’s approach is very similar — two interwoven stories, one a thriller set in the present and the other historical events in 15th century Germany that influence the first.

The present day plot has the usual ingredients — a puzzling mystery, a reluctant and often lucky hero, a beautiful academic sidekick, sinister villains and a intercontinental paperchase. What saves it from the run-of-the-mill is Harper’s well observed narrative.

The main Renaissance character, Johann Gensfleisch, is even more enigmatic and it is hard to spot where his story will lead. I won’t spoil things, but involves perhaps the most significant invention between the alphabet and the one you are looking at now. {No, not Shooting Parrots}

This is not the Da Vinci Code and while there is a secret at its heart, it isn’t one that will change the world if uncovered, but it is an intriguing one nonetheless.

I found myself more interested in the fate of Johann and the latter day thriller was more a vehicle for the story of one of the greatest contributors to civilisation, someone we know very little about.

The thriller only gets truly silly towards the end of the 580+ pages involving an improbable escape and an even more improbable rescue, but I didn’t feel overly cheated, perhaps because of the hero’s line in the face of adversity: “I wasn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.”

A four out of five read if only because it made me for one think about how an invention came about that would indeed change th world forever.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

2 comments… Add yours
  • Jay 2nd November 2010

    Oh good – another book for the ‘to read’ shelf! I like a good mystery, and I like a good thriller, and even better if they’re set in the past!

  • Mr Parrot 2nd November 2010

    It is worth the read even if the modern bit does get a bit silly towards the end.


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