Kirkus Reviews –
An entertaining if sometimes far-fetched religious-tinged thriller by mysterians Rollins (Bloodline, 2012, etc.) and Cantrell (A City of Broken Glass, 2012, etc.). What if the Vatican were built atop a pet cemetery or the moral equivalent of an Indian burial ground? What if Herod's Massacre of the Innocents had actually happened? What if Saint Peter, the rock on which the church was built, was an action hero? All these possibilities pop up in Rollins and Cantrell's confection, which operates on the always tetchy premise that Christ's blood sacrifice finds responses in the blood sacrifices of others, including unwilling virgins--or so the evidence suggests when an earthquake in Masada, site of yet another blood sacrifice all those years ago, exposes a cave inside of which is found the mummy of a girl throwing most curious mudras. Soon, an unlikely cast from the worlds of archaeology, religion, warfare and crime fighting descends on the place, and what they piece together over the course of the narrative threatens--natch--to shake the world of organized Christianity to the ground, not least because Christ himself has a few revisions to make in the record. There are lots of Indiana Jones–like moments throughout ("It is no mere weapon," says a warrior priest. "It's a symbol of Christ. That is beyond weaponry."), a little romance, lots of car chases and explosions, and lots of oddball twists, including encounters with a strange Russian priest named Rasputin, a mysterious Eastern European heavy with the most suggestive name of Bathory and a gaggle of goal-oriented fanatics. And does the firmament crack open as the "great War of the Heavens looms"? That depends on whether you see room for a sequel at the end of this romp. Good escapist reading in the Dan Brown vein. And these writers can write.
With several New York Times best sellers and 19 Webbys to its name, the Onion feels bold to proclaim that this comprehensive reference source is the last book ever published. A typical entry: Woodstock, "landmark music festival that brought together half a million future bankers and hedge fund managers." Lots of folks groove to this kind of humor.
Kirkus Reviews –
Beecher White returns as hero in Meltzer's (The Inner Circle, 2011, etc.) second installment of his conspiracy thriller surrounding the Culper Ring and a corrupt president. Beecher is an archivist at the National Archives. He's also the newest member of that obscure brotherhood, the Culper Ring. It's linked through history to George Washington--"the [Secret] Service's mission is to protect the President. In the Culper Ring, we protect the Presidency." One secret endangering the current presidency, which Beecher and the Ring uncovered, is that the man holding the highest office, Orson Wallace, once took part in a brutal murder. Readers meet characters old and new, including Beecher's fellow archivist Aristotle "Tot" Westman and an undercover computer nerd nicknamed Mac. Then there's Clementine, Beecher's childhood acquaintance and daughter of Nico Hadrian, institutionalized, unsuccessful presidential assassin. Through a military human-guinea-pig experiment, Nico is linked to Beecher and to one of Beecher's childhood friends, Marshall Lusk, a boy with a troubled background. Lusk now works with a secret Government Accountability Office group using stealth tactics to uncover possible security breaches. As the story begins, Lusk is appearing too often at the wrong place at the right time. This includes the site where a murderer replicates the techniques and circumstances of the assassination of Lincoln. The killer's script next shifts to the murders of Garfield, then McKinley, with each assassination targeting a pastor instead of the president. Decoding the mystery through symbols on playing cards, Beecher and Tot confront another clandestine group, The Knights of the Golden Circle, linked to Etienne de Vignoles, a 14th-century knight charged with protecting the Name of God by killing kings--presidents?--who stand in the way. Adding the mysterious and troubled Lusk to the cast ratchets up the drama and human interest, and Meltzer's fans will enjoy the usual sprinkling of history factoids, fast-paced writing and the double-whiplash bombshell conclusion. Although equipped with adequate back story to allow The Fifth Assassin to be enjoyed alone, smart readers will first dip into the series opener, The Inner Circle.