Monday, July 20, 2015

Review: The President's Shadow

Summary: There are stories no one knows. Hidden stories. I find those stories for a living.

To most, it looks like Beecher White has an ordinary job. A young staffer with the National Archives in Washington, D.C., he's responsible for safekeeping the government's most important documents . . . and, sometimes, its most closely held secrets.

But there are a powerful few who know his other role. Beecher is a member of the Culper Ring, a 200-year-old secret society founded by George Washington and charged with protecting the Presidency.

Now the current occupant of the White House needs the Culper Ring's help. The alarming discovery of the buried arm has the President's team in a rightful panic. Who buried the arm? How did they get past White House security? And most important: What's the message hidden in the arm's closed fist? Indeed, the puzzle inside has a clear intended recipient, and it isn't the President. It's Beecher, himself.

Beecher's investigation will take him back to one of our country's greatest secrets and point him toward the long, carefully hidden truth about the most shocking history of all: family history. -- Hachette Audio

A few weeks ago, I was in the mood for a Brad Meltzer book. It's been years since I've read one, but I remembered seeing a huge billboard in New York (right across from the Davits Center) advertising THE PRESIDENT'S SHADOW. For some reason, the book stuck in my mind so I decided to pick it up and settle in for a suspenseful read.

The first thing I realized (rather quickly) is that THE PRESIDENT'S SHADOW is part of the Culper Ring series.... a series that I've not read before. I'm not a big fan of starting series in the middle; however, I figured that Mr. Meltzer is a pro and I could probably catch up. I have to tell you that I sure wish I had started these books from the beginning. I had no issues following the story or getting to know the characters, but I just felt like I was missing out if that makes sense. Plus, I'm pretty certain that I would have really enjoyed reading the books in order and anticipating the next one!

After getting over that little surprise (and slight disappointment), I remembered that I just adore Mr. Metzler's writing. He really is one of the best at these types of books. In THE PRESIDENT'S SHADOW, Beecher White, a young archivist at the National Archives and member of the secret society known as the Culper Ring, finds himself in a complicated investigation. (For those of you who aren't familiar with this series, the Culper Ring is a secret society started by George Washington to protect the presidency.) When a buried arm is found on the grounds of the White House, the President and his men are in a bit of a tizzy. They have no idea who the arm belongs to or how someone breeched security to bury it in the White House gardens. Furthermore, they have no idea why someone would even want to bury a severed arm or what it could possibly mean!

When they find something hidden in the hand of the severed arm, Beecher realizes that the ultimate message of the arm isn't intended for the President, but rather him. Beecher's investigation leads him to solve this disturbing crime while also discovering difficult things about his father's past.

I really liked THE PRESIDENT'S SHADOW, although as I mentioned earlier, I sure wish I hadn't started in the middle of the series with this book. I have read that this book in particular was probably not the one to start with, but it's too late to worry about that. I certainly liked Beecher and his loyalty to the cause, and I definitely appreciated how the story about his father's past was revealed. I also really enjoyed the pacing and suspense of the story as well as the many twists!

I know next to nothing about how the Secret Service or those surrounding the President operate, but I felt as if THE PRESIDENT'S SHADOW was well researched and much of it seemed to be authentic. I actually love the idea of a clandestine agency whose mission is to protect the presidency, and it does make for some terrific story ideas. Mr. Meltzer is just a consummate pro at writing thrillers about our government and its inner workings... and making them convincing.

As a newbie to this series, I can't really compare this story to the earlier ones. However, I did really enjoy the complexities of Beecher's character. At the start of this novel, he is obviously dealing with some very difficult issues, namely his mentor is in a coma and he still needs answers to what happened to his father. I found Beecher to be very likable, but it was more than that. I actually cared what happened to him and felt his pain as he discovered what happened to his father. It was touching and much deeper than I was expecting for a thriller.

Overall, I enjoyed THE PRESIDENT'S SHADOW quite a bit. I love the premise of this series and intend to go back and catch up!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read. Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


Beth F said...

I haven't read a Meltzer book in a long time either. If I pick this one up, I'll start the series from the beginning.

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read Meltzer in a while either. I have this book but wonder if I should look for the first books in the series before I read it.