Title: The Lucifer Code
Author: Charles Brokaw
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books): “Thomas Lourds ventures to Istanbul University in Turkey to examine artifacts never before seen by Western scholars. He’s barely off the plane before he’s kidnapped by ruthless people who leave a string of dead bodies in their wake. They want Lourds to translate coded writings that they hope will lead them to a lost scroll authored by John of Patmos—the same John who wrote the Book of Revelation in the Bible.
The writings on the scroll might bring about the end of the world—or might stop it. They might even raise the Devil himself—but there are signs that the Devil has already risen and that he is very interested in Thomas Lourds. No one knows for sure what will happen if the scroll is found, decoded, and translated, but several powerful men are seeking it, and they will stop at nothing to get it. And one of those people has ties to the US government, ties that lead directly to the White House.
Before he knows it, Thomas Lourds is in over his head, dodging spies, crooks, and bullets. He needs help to stay alive—and he has it in the form of a beautiful but deadly Irish Republican Army operative, and in his old flame, Olympia Adnan. Can they navigate the secrets hidden in ancient Istanbul’s most secret depths before they are killed? Or will they be too late to stop the terrible workings of the Devil himself before he can bring the world down around them?”
Thoughts: Love him or hate him, Dan Brown definitely set a precedent when he wrote his thrillers about religion and conspiracy. It seems every writer in that genre is now looking for his or her own angle with which to stun readers and get an entire country talking. Some authors have been successful; far too many though have failed at their attempts to follow in Dan Brown’s footsteps. For me, I would put Charles Brokaw in that latter category.
It isn’t that The Lucifer Code is a horrible book; the story line is quite intriguing, and the action moves at a decent pace without seeming highly improbable. Are there times when the situations faced by the characters requires some eye-rolling on the part of the reader? Sure, but this is often the case in action thrillers of this nature. The issue is Thomas Lourds himself. Arrogant and lecherous, he thinks he is God’s gift to linguistics and to women. While he doesn’t cross into misogyny, the fact that he views almost every woman as his for the taking is, in one’s opinion, an antiquated approach to gender relations. Of course, the fact that the two main female characters do end up sleeping with him does nothing to alleviate his pompousness or improve the situation on the whole. As for the sex scenes themselves, they were completely gratuitous and did nothing to further the plot, but definitely furthered Lourds’ ego.
The plot itself was fairly predictable. Stories of this nature tend to be rather formulaic, and The Lucifer Code is no exception. Rather than forcing the reader to question certain institutions and present a very possible scenario, Mr. Brokaw relies on more action than thought, much like the James Bond series. In fact, like Bond, Lourds is a womanizer and supremely confident in his abilities. The Lucifer Code is not a religious mystery but rather a suspense as to whether Lourds can crack the code in time to save the world, a la 007.
When viewed in that light, The Lucifer Code is a decent story. It has action and adventure, near-death experiences, a touch of the otherworldly, hot women, fast cars, and state-of-the-art weaponry. It does not require much thought or problem solving but requires the reader to sit back and enjoy the ride. Even at 368 pages, it’s pacing is fast and cohesive. The result is an enjoyable action adventure story that helps while away an afternoon. For those looking for a Dan Brown-esque novel, this one does not quite live up to those expectations. For those who enjoy more action and adventure, The Lucifer Code is definitely worth considering.
Thank you to Tolly Moseley from PR By the Book for my review copy!