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Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers Author: Ian Caldwell &n Dustin Thomason
For Coralyn's quest in reading Mysteries regarding scriptures, art and sculpture, here's my share.
A compelling modern thriller that cleverly combines history and mystery. When four Princeton seniors begin the Easter weekend, they are more concerned with their plans for the next year and an upcoming dance than with a 500-year-old literary mystery. But by the end of the holiday, two people are dead, two of the students are injured, and one has disappeared. These events, blended with Renaissance history, code breaking, acrostics, sleuthing, and personal discovery, move the story along at a rapid pace. Tom Sullivan, the narrator, tells of his late father's and then a roommate's obsession with the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a 15th-century "novel" that has long puzzled scholars. Paul has built his senior thesis on an unpopular theory posited by Tom's father–that the author was an upper-class Roman rather than a monk–and has come close to proving it. While much of the material on the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili is arcane and specialized, it is clearly explained and its puzzles are truly puzzling, while the present-day action is compelling enough to keep teens reading. There is a love interest for Tom and a lively portrayal of Princeton life. This novel will appeal to readers of Dan Brown's TheDa Vinci Code (Doubleday, 2003) but it supplies a lot more food for thought, even including some salacious woodcuts from the original book as well as coded excerpts and their solutions.
I've read this book 4 years ago in the aftermath of the Da Vinci Code. And found myself reading it again to refresh my memory and for Coralyn's sake. The encoding of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili book was very exciting, the domino effect is the perfect combo of suspense and oddly it didn't give me a hard time imagining the premise/plot/history that engulfs the book. The fact that the school was Princeton gives it an extra point in the imaginary mind. At its best, "Rule" informs that distinction - enlightening the habit of making friends and sharing secrets. "Rule" demonstrates convincing and compelling characters and consistent themes. The authors display a way with words and people that overcomes its scarcity of plot. I as even tempted to buy my own copy of the Hypnerotomachia.

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