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While I am the history teacher in the household, I’m proud to say my husband, Steve Smith, definitely could step into that role with ease.  Given his recent excitement following completion of Brad Meltzer’s political thriller, The Inner Circle, we thought it would be fun to include his review here for our fellow history buffs.  And for those of you who are social media gurus and lovers of either Meltzer’s books or his hit show, Decoded, you can follow him on Twitter (as I do) at @bradmeltzer.  He is very active in social media and loves interacting with his fans!

As for the book, the review, and the show…Enjoy!  We do!

Click to see this book in the Amazon bookstore.

Novel: The Inner Circle
Author: Brad Meltzer
Pages: 519
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Copyright: 2011
Genre: Historical Fiction/Thriller

Brief Summary:

The main character is Beecher White, an archivist at the National Archives in Washington, DC.  He is a young, naïve man who is extremely likable.  It’s his job to find information—to discover things that have been hidden for years (much like Meltzer himself).  When Beecher’s childhood crush Clementine shows up in Washington to obtain information about the identity of her father (which is an amazing story of its own),  Beecher stumbles into something involving the President of the United States and the Culper Ring.  Because of the secret nature of the Culper Ring (dating back to George Washington), Beecher does not know who he can trust and who he cannot. Essentially, Beecher spends the entire novel following clues, decoding secret messages which are not meant for him, analyzing glares and statements made by co-workers, and becoming extremely paranoid.  As a reader, I found myself becoming suspicious of virtually every other character in the book as well.


Steve Smith teaches literature at the high school level in Kentucky.

I am a fan of Brad Meltzer’s Decoded, a television series on the History Channel which gives detailed accounts of specific history-related conspiracy theories.  Because of my enjoyment for the series, I decided to read one of Meltzer’s novels.

I would categorize The Inner Circle as historical fiction/thriller.  The story is filled with suspense, and the author keeps the audience guessing what may happen next and which characters we can trust.  Meltzer takes his time setting up the plot and introducing many characters, but that is crucial to the suspense that is created by having so many different players in the game.  He does an adequate job of explaining the Culper Ring, its origins, and its historical significance.  He also paints a picture of each setting so that the reader can visualize almost everything.  I truly thought I had successfully identified the Culper Ring members several different times throughout the novel, only to find out that I was wrong.


Meltzer’s writing style is comparable to Dan Brown’s, author of The DaVinci Code.  Both authors blend historical facts with legends, conspiracy theory, and fiction.  Just as Brown does in every one of his novels, Meltzer pairs his main character with a partner of the opposite sex who possesses many essential qualities that the protagonist requires in order to succeed.  Also, there is the whole “epic” significance (which Brown loves to use) in which the fate of the world or country is dependent upon the hero’s triumph.

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