08 October 2006

The Rule of Four

I've just finished The Rule of Four, a debut novel by Caldwell and Thomason. I must say I find it pretty disappointing towards the end as there are some knots that are yet to be untied. It seems like the authors prefer to give emphasis to thriller elements and the melodramatic ending (a fire!) at the expense of intellectual decoding. For example, I don't know where the crypt really is at the end or what Paul does to the blueprint. These should be two of the most important moments when the authors can add more fun in enticing the readers with more codes to be cracked. Yet these two moments simply vanish from the narrative, leaving the reader to pick up pieces at the end finding Paul already lurking in the crypt in Italy! I find Dan Brown's works better in this aspect, as he never leaves the reader gasping at narrative gaps. All of Brown's knots are duly untied at the end.

However, the psychological complexities of the characters are pretty good, even though I know of some readers who reject these or find them irrelevant. Good thrillers can show some psychological aspects of the characters too and I think the relationship of the main characters are reasonably good. I personally find that between Tom and Katie realistic and not totally irrelevant. But I wonder whether choosing Tom's point of view would eventually compromise the narrative, as towards the end it is PAUL who cracks the two most important puzzles and the reader is sadly kept at a distance.