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The Book of Fate    by Brad Meltzer order for
Book of Fate
by Brad Meltzer
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is the story of a young man in stasis - his life's progression halted by an act of violence that left him scarred on both the outside and the inside - who gradually discovers that he's been used and manipulated by those he's looked up to the most.

Wes Holloway took the job of presidential aide to then President Leland Manning on the recommendation of the previous job holder, his friend Dreidel. He expected the role to lead - as it did for other aides - to a selection of high-profile job offers. But then a nutcase, Nico Hadrian, shot at the President, killing Manning's best friend, deputy chief of staff Ron Boyle - for whose presence in the armored limo Wes felt responsible. Manning lost re-election. Wes was left with festering guilt, facial scarring that shocks everyone he meets, and strong loyalty to the boss who kept him on after exiting the White House.

Then, in Malaysia, Wes glimpses Ron Boyle, alive and kicking, in the President's private holding room, and badly wants answers. He enlists Dreidel, now running for State Senate, and his best friend Rogo, a speeding ticket lawyer in Palm Beach, to help dig them out. But Wes's sighting of Boyle has moved various powerful shadowy operatives into action, which intersects with the friends' investigation in dangerous ways. Lisbeth - who writes the Palm Beach Post's gossip column, but longs for a Pulitzer - is another player in unfolding events. On the trail of a big story, she offers to help Wes, but can he trust her? He doubts it.

We meet Hadrian again in a Washington mental hospital, where we learn that his mental problems are being manipulated by others. The Three have enlisted Hadrian in their struggle against what they claim is a worldwide conspiracy of Freemasons. He breaks out of hospital, with a violent agenda - and Wes is on his hit list. As the aide searches out secrets hidden in presidential crossword puzzles, federal agents and a mad killer seek him. This culminates in an explosion of violence and a big surprise of an ending, where it finally all comes down to money and power - which some will do almost anything for.

Brad Meltzer always offers an engrossing read and does so again in The Book of Fate. Though I was a little disappointed in the lack of development of the Freemasonry theme (which is briefly discussed in an Author's Note at the end), I enjoyed his portrayal of lives that stopped 'halfway there' - two people who had lost their way and given up on their dreams, but are reminded that 'The Book of Fate isn't already written. It's written every day.'

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