Book of Souls

Glenn Cooper’s BOOK OF SOULS adds to the growing number of titles that I have recently dubbed “THE DA VINCI CODE Fallout.” Like Dan Brown before him, Cooper draws on medieval history, church history and modern FBI/CIA/covert-operations drama to give readers a novel that somehow manages to link William Shakespeare, John Calvin, Winston Churchill, Nostradamus, the Catholic Church, the Church of England, the FBI and the CIA; it doesn’t work as well as one might hope.

SOULS begins with Will Piper, a recently force-retired FBI agent and new father. His history of drinking and womanizing, and a constant selfish attitude make him, unfortunately, a rather unlikable main character. When an old case comes back to haunt him in the form of a dying man seeking answers about a mysterious book — one known to hold the birth and death dates of everyone in the world — Piper travels to England to uncover the tome’s origins, leaving death and destruction in his wake. 

Cooper then switches from a present telling of Piper’s discovery to a past account of the book’s secret history, from the 14th to 16th century. Drawing on small details of various aspects of history, the author weaves a loosely believable tale of church conspiracy, top-secret missions and bizarre cover-ups. Sound familiar?

Although Cooper’s desire to make these parts of history fit neatly together deserves some applause, readers are ultimately left with a series of convenient steps that lead to a too-neat tie-up of events. Luckily, even Cooper seems to know that these coincidences go beyond suspension of disbelief, descending into a brief musing on predestination and the determination of life-and-death events. Perhaps a bit too philosophic for the ending of a political thriller; nevertheless, lovers of Brown and the like are sure to find BOOK OF SOULS entertaining because of the nature of the plot.

Sadly, beyond a glaring misuse of commas throughout the text, little in the work makes it stand out from the rest of the church-history-cum-political-thrillers on the market. If you’re looking for a more serious thriller or political mystery, I’d suggest looking elsewhere. —Kerry Serini

Buy it at Amazon.

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