Book of Souls by Glenn Cooper (Review #2)


Reviewed by Stephanie Nordkap

souls1Will Piper, hero of Secret of the Seventh Son, finds himself in sudden retirement after the events of the “Doomsday Killer” case, and is chaffing to find something exciting to do. He is now married, with a young son, under constraint of a signed confidentiality agreement to never reveal the events that occurred in his final case and to never reveal the shattering truths he learned over man’s eventual fate. Shackled and constrained, Will is moaning over his fate when one day during a run, he notices that he is being followed. Upon confrontation, he learns that his followers belonged to a secret military and government group who worked in Area 51, the same group that tried to attack and kill Will over 18 months ago. These two men are after an old volume that has suddenly appeared on the market after having disappeared for hundreds of years and they want Will to get it for them, willing to pay him unlimited amounts of money for the job and for the book. All of a sudden, Will finds himself at the center of a conspiracy he has tried very hard to forget for 18 months.

Upon acquiring the special book, they discover a puzzle written by none other than Will Shakespeare himself. It is a set of clues, the discovery which is desperately needed to complete a very important mission, something to which only the government and these strange old men, are privy to. Will heads to England and searches for clues over 600 hundred years old, always trying to stay one step ahead of those who are pursuing him. Once he finds those clues, the secret government officials, who have been labouring at their task for over 60 years, will do anything in their power to stop him from releasing what he has learned to the world; a truth so powerful and so dangerous, it could hold a message about the future and the end of the world.

This novel was a fantastic blend of history, archaeology, suspense, mystery, religion, and fiction. Book of Souls takes place 18 months after the events in Secret of the Seventh Son, and assumes that you have read the first book. If you haven’t read the first one, you will do fine, except that you may not understand everything that is going on as the author doesn’t explain certain things that are happening assuming you are already aware of the events being referenced.

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I got caught up in its grip right from the beginning and I looked forward to reading it every night. Combine a mystery, lots of suspense, a quest, a chase, many secrets, and you have the ingredients in place for a very fine story. In his quest to discover more information, Will heads to England in order to decipher clues left behind by William Shakespeare. As they search, they discover journals and letters left behind by John Calvin, Nostradamus, and others who explain the origins of the book and the Library and how it all began in the first place. The author deftly moves the reader from the present to the past, enter-twining the stories with great skill. Those familiar with these types of stories will be familiar with this technique. We learn a lot more about events in the past that helps us understand the importance of the Library and the Books in the present.

The plot certainly had a lot of twists and surprises, with many casualties, some of those people I didn’t want to see die. The plot went at a pace where I could understand what was going on and still place the many characters, but didn’t slow down to the point where I was bored. I enjoyed the quest in England as much as I enjoyed the later parts of the book where Will was evading government people in order to get what he needed to the right people.

As always, it’s the character development that I find fascinating, and Will is certainly no exception. I have to admit he was not my favourite character in parts of the book and some of his actions didn’t help endear him to me, but characters are not without their flaws, some more than others. Will’s drinking has certainly landed him in some rough spots in the past, but what I found interesting is that while he’s gotten into trouble over it in England, it saved his family’s life in the United States. Definitely a circle coming around. He does go through a moment of reflection when he visits Shackleton and realizes how important Nancy and his son are to him, and how he needs to treat them better and better appreciate them. Nancy herself, doesn’t have a great role in this novel as she is busy taking care of their son, but she is always present in Will’s mind.

I truly enjoyed this novel. I do think it has the capability to really make us think about life and death and the dichotomy of knowing our date of death. The political implications about having this information made public is huge and I think the author didn’t do justice to this concept in the novel. It just plays on the fringes of the concept when the U.S. government was going to take over another country because they had knowledge of an ecological disaster due to the Books. The idea of the power of the book and the life and death situations it could create is huge. The way Book of Souls ended leaves it wide open for a third book in the series and I am curious as to what the author will do with the amazing world he has created and the implications for releasing the knowledge of your date of death to the world.

Disclosure in Accordance with FTC Guidelines 16 CFR Part 255


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