24 July 2008

The Book of Fate: The Mystery of the Missing Masonry

The Book of Fate
Brad Meltzer
Grand Central Publishing, 2006

Have you ever gotten a few chapters into a book, put it down, picked it up again, finished it, and then wished you'd simply trusted your initial instinct instead of wasting that time? That describes my experience with this book to a "t." The Book of Fate has nothing to do with Freemasonry, in spite of what the front cover, back cover blurb, and author's note would all have you believe. The conspicuous Masonic compasses and square in the book's title serve only to fool the reader into thinking this is another Da Vinci Code or National Treasure.

In fact, it is a cockamamie political thriller whose cast of characters is almost as unbelievable as its byzantine plotting. There's President Leland Manning, who follows W in office; his wife, Dr. Lenore Manning; his aide, sometimes narrator Wes Holloway, who was shot by a ricochet during an assassination attempt leaving his face permanently scarred; the President's best friend Boyle, who was shot and killed during the same assassination attempt, only to turn up very alive eight years later; Wes' roommate Rogo, a traffic ticket attorney and devoted friend; Lisbeth Dodson, the gossip columnist who wants to be the next Woodward and Bernstein; and Nico Hadrian, a religious psychotic responsible for "assassinating Boyle" under the influence of a mysterious cabal called The Three.

Lest you suspect that "The Three" are Freemasons, thus explaining the cover and Masonic hoopla, you'd be wrong. Rather they are three top agents from the CIA, FBI, and Secret Service, who have been in cahoots to scam the government with expensive, phony intelligence. Somehow they connect to the assassination of Boyle, which was perpetrated by Nico because the Three easily convinced him that his father was (1) evil, (2) his mom's murderer, (3) a Freemason, and (4) conspiring with other Freemasons, such as the man he is to assassinate, Boyle. Nico's late father was, apparently, a Freemason (indicated by the secret tatoo of compass and squares on his ankle). But Boyle isn't a Freemason. The President isn't a Freemason. None of the Three are Freemasons. The plot doesn't revolve around a big Masonic secret. Instead Freemasonry was simply something that the Three associated (wrongly) with Nico's father and with Boyle in order to get Nico to pull the trigger for them. Make sense? No. Then you're following along nicely.

For the record, the book didn't totally suck. It was fun enough for an airplane or the beach, although the execrable plotting might induce headaches after one too many mojitos. Just don't expect it to make much sense and especially don't expect it to have anything to do with Freemasonry and you probably won't be too disappointed. How is that for damning with faint praise?