The scholarly adventurer is not a new construct in popular media and fiction. Though Indiana Jones may be one of my favorite smart heroes, many other writers created similar characters long before George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Jules Verne explored huge worlds beyond the everyday while Arthur Conan Doyle focused on the little clues of the everyday that we all leave behind (just ask the writers behind the successful CSI series, The Mentalist, NCIS and others). More recently, Dan Brown brought symbologist Robert Langdon to the fore in his wildly successful book The Da Vinci Code, mixing clues from the past with events in the present.
So when I saw the book The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw, I couldn’t help but see a connection between the title and Dan Brown’s work. But it was the addition of “Lucifer” that intrigued me. How would the Prince of Lies be worked into a Da Vinci Code-type story structure?
Though Brokaw’s debut — The Atlantis Code — was released last year, I somehow missed it. And while The Lucifer Code builds on the first book and includes references to earlier adventures, it wasn’t required reading beforehand. What I found was that the adventures of linguist Thomas Lourds managed to provide a fun rollercoaster ride that starts quickly and doesn’t let up till the end.
Lourds, an older gentleman fresh from his discovery of Atlantis, is heading to Istanbul, Turkey to speak at Istanbul University about his field of linguistics. While still at the airport, he’s approached by a beautiful woman. And, being a bit of a womanizer, Lourds is flattered by the attention at first. He’s subsequently caught off guard when she aids in his kidnapping. Lourds finds himself in the company of terrorists leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. And when the group eventually descends into the catacombs beneath the city, their leader presents him with a book.
To stay alive, he must decipher the code contained within and lead his kidnappers to a lost scroll written by John of Patmos — the author of the Book of Revelation in the Bible. But if Lourds succeeds, will he bring about Armageddon or will he stop one?
There are numerous twists and turns to the book, but it follows a traditional pattern. The hero is thrust into a conspiracy that he must unravel along the journey to prevent an evil plot. This one involves terrorists, scholars, and the White House, so it ranks right up there with Angels and Demons, in which Dan Brown used a similar structure. The action in the The Lucifer Code hardly takes a breath and it eventually involves the Prince of Lies in a war in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the conclusion was a bit far fetched even for me.
I have to say I enjoyed The Lucifer Code, but it will be quickly forgotten. It’s the kind of book that would be perfect for a long flight or business trip. But though Brokaw’s style was fun, I don’t know that I’ll seek out the next book (or the first one) telling more of Thomas Lourds’ adventures.
If you’re looking for a lively book for the plane, definitely check out The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokaw. But if you’re looking for more than a race around the world against the Devil, I’d look for something else.