Book of Souls by Glenn Cooper

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Book of Souls by Glenn Cooper

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A second solid adventure from this writer, furthering the historical intrigue and recreating the pacey modern adventure drama.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Arrow
ISBN: 978-0099534471

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Area 51 is not what you think it is. No - all that UFO kerfuffle is a smokescreen for the powers that be to hide even better the most unusual manuscript known to (a handful of) mankind - the most unearthly, singular, and unsettling book, in thousands and thousands of volumes. All except one, which is about to come under the hammer in a London auction house. Our hero Will Piper must go very reluctantly on the trail of it and its secrets, a trail which will force him and others to become entangled with shadowy agents, who in turn know the very day of all their enemy's deaths.

I could be a bit more revealing in my summary, but I don't want to completely spoil the first book in this series, Library of the Dead, and while both are too good to rely on prior knowledge of each other too much, it has to be recommended as the starting place. Chances are if you have met Glenn Cooper's debut you will not need me to tell you of its copious merits - only that they are shared here, second time out.

The exposition here is light enough in reintroducing us to the various concerns of the series, and while newcomers I'm sure won't get as much out of this as us returnees, they will definitely see the quality characterisation, with a humanity to most of the protagonists and antagonists alike that similar genre writers never trouble themselves over. Moreover, the chief appeal will be the appropriately-named Cooper throwing barrel-sized curveballs at us.

There was I thinking this had too quickly warped into a mystery where all I could do was watch as people look for clues in a country pile, while the author made us forget the future concerns we and the characters might have, when he slammed that said future right into the distant past, and I genuinely did shiver with anticipation. The balance of Dan Brown-styled airport novel hocum is altered slightly here, and I can still see people for whom this is nothing but pacey hogwash, especially as everyone and everything is included in the mix, but I certainly relish the style, intelligence, artistic forethought - and now the fact this author can expand the concerns of his unusual premise to eight hundred pages.

And over the double bill it's eight hundred pages of, to repeat, very pacey plotting. Different factors are dropped in that we couldn't suspect, which will have bearing only when we least expect them, and the whole cinematic look at his people crossing the territories of this novel will propel Cooper's increasing numbers of fans to the end in a heady rush.

If there is a slight hiccup it is with the erudition of the backstory not quite being as compelling as perhaps possible - the mix is a little too broad, and in an ideal world it might carry further on to the present time in a better way than the aforementioned search for clues. But as escapist action, with a nice clever touch used throughout, and a lot more craft and quality than the generic thrillers this would be shelved alongside in the High St, this can be highly recommended.

Take a shade off our Bookbag mark if you've not gone for the original book first.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Those who enjoyed this may like Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson for further mysteries in country piles.

Buy Book of Souls by Glenn Cooper at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Book of Souls by Glenn Cooper at

Buy Book of Souls by Glenn Cooper at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Book of Souls by Glenn Cooper at


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