Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Book Of Secrets - Chris Roberson

The Book of Secrets starts out with a journalist deciding to pursue a story about a wealthy recluse, and gets progressively odder from there, to the point where you have pretty much ended up in something Simon R. Green might have come up with, Nightside style. Thanks to the title object, that is. Being a vaguely hardboiled journo, he likes the booze, of course.

His grandfather has also died, and left him a box of papers - which includes multiple adventures of a hero called The Black Hand - from the era of The Shadow, the Lone Ranger, pirates, highwaymen and more. Always a Black Hand, though, even if not as consistent as The Phantom down through the ages. Excerpts of these different styles of adventurers and stories are actually presented in the novel, which is fun.

The story only takes a week in novel time, and that is how it is broken down, day by day, as the protagonist tours Texas, Nevada, and Arizona looking into the mysterious book.

Flashbacks happen to his childhood, how he felt about his family, why he is where he is, the training his grandfather inflicted upon him from his point of view.

Throw in a mafia auction, and the weird accelerates from there, as, well, the secrets of the Book in the title are revealed.

The book mystery part is perhaps not as successful as the homage to the pulp adventurer family. Overall a solid book.

3.5 out of 5

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