The darkest secret of the U.S. Presidency is about to be revealed.
Beecher White, a young archivist for the US government, has always been the keeper of other people’s stories, never a part of the story himself . . . Until now.
While Beecher is showing Clementine Kaye, his first childhood crush, around the National Archives, they accidentally uncover a priceless artefact – a two-hundred-year-old dictionary once belonging to George Washington. Suddenly Beecher and Clementine are entangled in a web of conspiracy and murder.
Beecher’s race to learn the truth behind this mysterious treasure will lead to a code that conceals a disturbing secret from the nation’s founding. A secret that some believe is worth killing for.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a fascination with the United States, the history and her Presidency and when the paperback edition of Brad Meltzer’s The Inner Circle landed on my desk a few days ago I jumped at the chance to pay a visit not only to the West Wing – minus Josiah Bartlet unfortunately – but the National Archives. Try as I might I couldn’t get Nicholas Cage’s National Treasure and the multiple copies of the Declaration of Independence out of my head, and that was before I began reading!
The Inner Circle combines betrayal, the presidency, murder and a deep rooted conspiracy to deliver a complex and compelling political thriller, an intriguing thriller that will keep you guessing until the final pages. Meltzer takes you one way and then another, all the while constantly introducing more than enough red herrings to confuse matters, and then, just when you think you have it all figured out, he switches things around and no one – nothing – is who they first appear to be.
Although the narrative is pin sharp and well thought out, I found the first few chapters a little sedentary and the beginning a little slow going as a result. Laying a solid foundation for a multi layered thriller such as The Inner Circle is no mean feat; I can’t begin to tell you how complex this plot is! One thing is certain, and take this from a fast reader, it’s not the quickest of reads, however I have to assure you that this is by no means a negative, the narrative is there to be appreciated.
Meltzer introduces a number of characters along the way and every once in a while I found myself turning back the odd page to make certain I understood a particular phrase or what position a character held. Having said all that it’s what I love about these types of books; an unexpected depth can often throw you off course and surprise you – The Inner Circle certainly did that – but if there was one thing I took from the book more than anything else it was unquestionably Beecher White.
Characterisation is impressive and very well developed. Beecher stole the show for me, a character who visibly grew from an innocent staffer, initially keen to help as many people as possible in his role as an archivist, to a more assertive pistol wielding archivist hell bent on discovering the dark secrets of the serving President and a secretive 200 year old affiliation. Beecher is torn between loyalty for his 70 year old friend – and colleague – and a childhood sweetheart – Clementine – who has unexpectedly reappeared in his life. Still recovering from a failed relationship with his former Fiancé Iris, Clementine uses her feminine guile to confuse the young archivist and secure his help in finding her father.
As I’ve already mentioned things aren’t quite what they appear to be and part of the charm of The Inner Circle is discovering the underlying truth, you never quite know who the good guys are until the climactic dénouement – just as it should be. As the book matures the pace increases – slowly at first – and with it comes an intensity I wasn’t expecting. Incredibly atmospheric, I found myself wandering the halls of the White House and National Archives as I made sense of each discovery, no matter how big or small. Make no bones about it, this book will make you think, have you searching google to see if something actually happened and in the end I didn’t want to put the book down.
Electrifying, intriguing and intense, The Inner circle is an accomplished and entertaining book, a book that introduces us to Beecher White and The Culper Ring, a group of people determined to protect the Presidency at all costs. I only hope this isn’t the last we hear of either.