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The Book of 21 Paperback – June 29, 2012
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
Editor's Choice Highlighted Title - Independent Publisher Online, September 2012 (independentpublisher.com)
From the Back Cover
"...Ohl delivers on many accounts, including a well-crafted cast, short, snappy chapters that move the action along and a touch of mystery at the end..."-Kirkus Reviews
John McDonough is a Philadelphia detective who just wants a night off. Instead, when the on call detective goes missing, John is assigned to investigate a grisly murder that will change his world. After realizing the victims were researchers at a local university, he uncovers information that links their deaths to a hidden source of power, and an ancient plan to make a verse from the Book of Revelation ring true. In a danger-filled search for the culprits, he learns he is as much the hunted as the hunter. Soon, the only way out is to solve the riddles that the victims left behind and find The Book of 21.
The Book of 21 is Todd Ohl's first novel. For more information, please visit toddohl.com.
Top customer reviews
From minor characters drawn from the streets of Philadelphia to the major characters, namely seasoned cops that patrol them, the sketches are colorful and believable. One villain is obsessive compulsive about cleanliness, an interesting quirk that a heroine exploits to make a dramatic escape. Two somewhat goofy, sympathetic forensic experts who rarely leave their desks become embroiled in the quest to locate their colleague who is in deep and dangerous waters. And even the lead character's inability to see a story twist that seems pretty obvious to the reader is readily explained by his tendency towards cloudy vision when dealing with attractive women.
The source of the title of the book provides the thread that ties the book together, with mysticism, witchcraft, and even church politics coming into play. Todd tries his hand at historical mystery Dan-Brown-style, and does a good job. There's even a scene reminiscent of Indiana Jones towards the book's end, and the prose is crafted well enough that one easily imagines being there. The final scenes make me wonder what this book would look like if screened as movie; I think it would play very well indeed.
The main quibble I have with the book -- other than occasional spelling and grammatical errors that a proofreader could readily catch -- is that the actions of the villains, and especially the villains themselves, aren't as credible and compelling as the heroic characters and their action scenes. The villains mostly act with remarkable and frightening efficiency, and when they do they seem credibly drawn. But there are at least two scenes where they veer into melodrama that stands in stark contrast to their other actions. In addition, overall it is hard to understand or get a feel for who they are and what motivates them (the one exception is the interesting quirk mentioned above); unlike the wonderfully lifelike cops, most of the villains seem like faint carbon copies of human beings. The story would benefit from more description and more scenes which flesh them out as imaginatively and vividly as the story's heroes.
Book of 21 is an excellent first novel by a promising author which I recommend to anyone looking for an adventurous, enjoyable read this holiday season.
The characters are distinct, well drawn and the plot moves forward at a quick but not hasty pace. The scenes are laid out vividly and the action is concise. I was struck by the writer's portrayal of the city and the surrounding boroughs. What begins as a bizarre case quickly turns into a sprawling search for truth amongst lies, betrayals, and ancient sects. The author deftly handles the conspiracy theory genre and there is an undercurrent of the mystical running underneath the twists and turns. The dialogue is well handled and feels very natural. There are a few errors in spelling and grammar, however these are very rare and do not take anything away from the enjoyment of the story.
The conclusion is fast paced with all of the main characters taking the lessons of this case forward with them. The story is open ended enough that I hope that Mr. Ohl brings the readers back into this world and further explores the themes and possibilities he's established. My greatest praise for this story is that you want to know, it encourages the reader to step forward and join in the investigation with these characters. I couldn't stop reading the story, and I will certainly be looking forward to more works from Mr. Ohl.
5 out of 5 stars