Sean Gibson's Reviews > The Rule of Four

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell
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really liked it
Read 2 times. Last read March 28, 2018 to April 9, 2018.

It’s a pretty safe bet that a dude who writes books about mysterious books is probably going to dig a book about a mysterious book. Then again, not so long ago, it was a pretty safe bet that a crazy guy from a reality show wouldn’t have a prayer of winning a major political office…but, hey—California went and elected that Schwarzenegger guy.

(Not where you thought that one was going, was it? Settle down, everyone.)

Consequently, consider that I’m exactly the intended core audience for The Rule of Four when trying to determine whether you might want to pick it up.

(Side note: on no less than three occasions when someone asked me what I was reading while I was in the middle of this, I called it “The Sign of Four,” which is pretty indicative of my general state of confusion, chronic lack of sleep, and Holmes obsession.)

The Rule of Four is a well-crafted, slow burn of a thriller that will appeal to anyone who loves historical mysteries (particularly those that reference Renaissance Italy), likes academic action as much (or more) as physical action, and finds the close, relatively isolated environment of a college campus to be an ideal setting for a murder mystery-type scenario. My only real quibbles were the utter toothlessness of law enforcement officials (our intrepid heroes are picked up by the local constabulary on multiple occasions, only to face no real consequence which, given the circumstances of the story in each instance, strained the bounds of credulity in a way that the unlikely cracking of the hidden code in a five-century old book did not) and the occasionally awkward attempt to round out a character who, given the type of story, would have been perfectly fine operating in only two dimensions.

(Okay, I had one other quibble as well, but it’s a relatively minor one: (view spoiler) That would be like not letting us see the full glory of the treasure Nicolas Cage and company found at the end of National Treasure, which would have been an affront to filmmaking. (Nicolas Cage, incidentally, is himself a national—nay, international—treasure, as is that movie, and if you disagree with that sentiment, you are wrong, reprehensible, and probably a heartless zombie with an attachment disorder; I’m sorry to be the first to tell you that.))

Suffice it to say, this is a book well worth picking up if you, like me, are the kind of dude, dudette, or duderette (we’ll use that term to encompass all aspects of gender fluidity in betwixt the male/female ends of the spectrum) who digs academic mysteries and geekish, scholarly heroes.

Right around 4.5 stars.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 11, 2015 – Shelved
April 11, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
March 28, 2018 – Started Reading
March 29, 2018 –
11.0% "Why do I feel like it's usually smart schools that have naked campus events (runs, winter olympics, etc.)? Is it just because it's the only way smart kids get to see naked people? (Asking for a friend.)"
April 4, 2018 –
40.0% "This is a slow burn, and it's delightful."
April 9, 2018 – Finished Reading
April 15, 2018 –
40.0%

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Thomas J. (new)

Thomas J. Benedict LOL. Great review, as always.


Sean Gibson Thanks, Thomas! :)


message 3: by Paula (new)

Paula "chronic lack of sleep and Holmes obsession." *I can relate*


Sean Gibson Haha! Well, misery does love company....


message 5: by Christine (new) - added it

Christine Roberts I read his other book, "The Fifth Gospel", and really enjoyed it. I have a copy of this one, I'm going to bump it up my TBR.


Sean Gibson I enjoyed the Fifth Gospel too, but thought this was better—certainly more thrillery.


message 7: by Lyn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lyn Marin I liked your review better than than the book


Sean Gibson Haha! Nic Cage references make everything better.


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