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The Lovecraft Code Hardcover – December 1, 2016
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About the Author
Peter Levenda's esoteric titles include The Dark Lord, Tantric Temples, and The Tantric Alchemist. His histories include The Hitler Legacy and Ratline. Levenda has appeared on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Channel, and TNT.
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Conspiracy Theorists, Lovecraftians and anyone who likes good stories will definitely Love this one. Epic is the word.
On the good side, it's a lurid, ambitious, entertaining story. I read the book in two days and would recommend it for anyone who might enjoy this sort of supernatural-espionage-thriller. A jaded religion professor is drafted into a plan to stop The End Of The World. He travels across the world in pursuit of a mysterious book. Meanwhile, the Bad Guys are also in pursuit of the book. The action scenes are some of the best parts of the book, which was a pleasant surprise given Levenda's intellectual leanings. H.P. Lovecraft and several other historical personalities makes appearances as well, in scenes that seek to blend fact with fiction. The Lovecraft scenes are pretty good, with some of the psychological depth that's missing in the other characters. Which brings us to...
On the bad side: The characters are paper-thin to the point of translucence, and furthermore are so poorly developed that it's easy to confuse with each other. The lead character is Angell, and supporting characters are named Adnan, Aubrey, and several other A-names. The plot is sort of a mess, particularly during the climax. (Mickey Spillane famously said that the first page sold the current book, and the last page sold the next book. Levenda did not sell me the next book). There's an annoying habit of switching point-of-view characters within a scene, which is very very very difficult to pull off effectively and is disastrous when done poorly like in this book. The number of typos is so distracting that it's almost an insult to anyone who'd pay for the book. All the typos felt sorta like the waiter bringing dirty silverware at a restaurant. Really? I'm paying for an experience and this is how you treat me? Not sure if the author or publisher is to blame, but jeez guys didn't you proofread this book before sending it to the printers? It's embarrassing. For example, "Emile Durkenheim" is sometimes spelled correctly and sometimes spelled "Durckenheim." I can forgive a few typos. Nobody's perfect. But I've never seen a book with this many typos, including the few books that were foisted on me against my will by people who used vanity presses.
The back cover of the book has a quote from Christopher Farnsworth, an author I'm not familiar with. He describes "The Lovecraft Code" as a "more intelligent 'Da Vinci Code'." I disagree with that assessment. Levenda is about in Dan Brown's league as a fiction writer. Certainly not the best. Not Literature with a capital L. But entertaining. And, truth be told, Dan Brown is better at structure and pacing than Levenda. But this is Lavenda's first published novel, so I can cut him some slack.
Now, if we're gonna talk about a more intelligent Da Vinci Code, if we're discussing supernatural thrillers, let's talk about Tim Powers's magnificent novel Declare. Powers plows much the same soil as Levenda (e.g., a deep, dark supernatural conspiracy at the heart of the 20th Century), but much more fruitfully and believably when it comes to blending fact with fiction, and with a keen awareness of the importance of fully-developed characters and motivations. The Lovecraft Code also reminds me, a bit, of Wilson and Shea's Illuminatus Trilogy -- which also proposes a massive conspiracy at play in recent history and was also a hot mess, but could be downright hilarious and sexy in a way that Levenda can't begin to touch.
Keep in mind that I write this review as someone who's followed Levenda for about a decade after hearing him interviewed on Coast to Coast AM one early early morning as I drove to work. I don't always agree with Levenda's conclusions in his non-fiction books, but he's clearly a smart and insightful guy. My favorite book of his is Ratline, which I bought in hardcover and have read several times and recommend wholeheartedly to anyone interested in WW2 specifically or 20th Century history generally. Ratline is by far the best and most compelling of the half dozen or so Hitler-survived-the-Bunker books I've read in my life. Dunstan and William's "Grey Wolf" came out at about the same time as Ratline, making similar claims about Hitler surviving, but didn't impress me nearly as much as Levenda did. What Lavenda brought to Ratline that's missing in the Lovecraft Code is focus. Ratline focuses like a laser on the thesis that Levanda wants to explore. There's practically no fat, any details included are essential to the story he's telling. The Lovecraft Code wants to cover so much ground and mention so many ideas that the cumulative result is somehow less than the sum of its parts. There's a lot of fascinating stuff in the Lovecraft Code, both fact and fiction. But, for me, all these data points weren't tied together cohesively.