Lance's Reviews > The Inner Circle

The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer
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Dec 26, 2011

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Read in December, 2011

I picked up this book because I needed a good romp of fiction, and this tome looked to be interesting enough to do the trick. The basic tenet of of the plot resides in the fact that George Washington devised a scheme wherein he could thwart the British who always seemed to intercept his communiques. The scheme required the use of civilians who would be known only to Washington, and that secrecy allowed his spies to resume their activities. As the story goes, Washington retained this inner circle of associates after he became President, and the Presidency of the United States has been served by this inner circle ever since.

But some Presidents, like Nixon and the future one around which the novel is structured, disregarded this inner circle and formed one of their own, thus making an inner circle inside the inner circle. In this vein the novel produces a really engaging plot and likeable characters. I even loved the dialogue and narration very often peppered with references to historical events and places. There was a touch more use of "wirty dords" to please my palette, but as I read I couldn't help but think that I would give this at least four stars.

But that ending --- oh, that awful, horrible, completely unfulfilling ending! The ending is surprising --- completely surprising --- and of course that is not necessarily bad. Very often a surprise ending can be very, very good. But the particular surprise here . . . I know authors like to leave room for a sequel in the thought of making more money with the next blockbuster (which these days are all pitched as part of a series), but come on! No resolution?! I mean, the story itself, even if it is part of a sequel, should have some form of internal resolution so that that story by itself can stand alone. We readers know there will be more to come, but we also want to feel satisfied that this story, or even this part of the story, has been completely told.

Star Wars is the classic example. When you finish with Episode I and see little Anakin Skywalker next to Ben Kenobi, that part of the story is done, and you the audience know it is done. You can also get your arms around it easier since you know that there are two more episodes to connect this part of the whole story with the part shown in Episode IV, and you are okay with that, because you can gauge what portion of the whole story is contained within Episode I.

That's where this novel falls way short. As a reader, I come with the expectation that the story in the book will be complete, if only in its own part of a larger series of such stories. So naturally I am disappointed and jilted to find that lacking in the end. I don't know what portion of the whole story this represents, and as such I can't get my arms around the relationships between The Inner Circle and whatever book(s) will follow.

If you don't mind that sort of experience, then by all means pick this up and enjoy yourself. The writing is very good, and the story (or whatever portion is in here) is very engaging. But if like me you don't like resolution-less endings, you might spend your valuable reading time elsewhere. For my part, the only way I can make any sense out of this book is to have the full story, which means, despite my years of swearing I would NEVER get sucked in to something like this, I am now an unwitting prisoner of the President's supposed secret society.

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