Library of the Dead by Glenn Cooper

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Library of the Dead by Glenn Cooper

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A very lively and competent thriller that swerves from serial killer to mystical hocum to chase adventure, with a lot more class that you might suspect.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: May 2009
Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-0099534457

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New York has been hit by another serial killer. The most unconnected people are being sent postcards with a coffin on, and are dying within 48 hours, on the date also predicted by the card. Will Piper, our FBI hero who has been spending his days counting the hours til his retirement, is flummoxed, with the disparate victims and deaths not allowing the usual profiling. And while we're on about disparate, why is this book also throwing in Roswell, Churchill, a failed screenwriter, and the goings-on regarding a seventh son of a seventh son in an eighth century English abbey?

In this year of the Second Coming of Dan Brown, it is going to take a book with a singular quality to try and match it in sales at the airport. And this might have the strongest chance of challenging Brown. You will not expect a book to swing so much from a serial killer procedural - albeit a PG certificate, bloodless one - to a hooey religious fantasy, to a chase full of Hollywood cliches, so well (if at all).

This is more than an airport novel, however, and while it appears to belong in the genre of 'don't expect much in the way of writing skills' thrillers, it offers a lot. The characterisation is done better than usual, although we can see some characters' arcs immediately they are introduced. The diverse moods and scenes come across strongly, too. And some of the decisions Cooper makes are also strong - you learn most of what is going on not much past half-way, but the energy of the piece still carries through to the last page.

This is not a title for the historians to scoff over - the mystical elements are purely hokum, and while Cooper might disappoint some people by offering something so inexplicable, and crashing it in with his well-rounded people in the modern day, I was able to let it all pass and treat it as the necessary backbone of this book.

Cooper's biography is rather diverse, to say the least - archaeological and medical qualifications, and now breakthroughs into literature and Hollywood. A lot of this is mirrored by the depth and variety in these pages, which help with his engaging premise to make the pages turn by very speedily. The various timelines are coped with very ably, and we don't suffer any hiccoughs on our enjoyable ride through this adventure. With a second Piper book in the pipeline, also with a bookish sensibility, I think the sifting pan and scalpel will be gathering dust for some time.

I must thank the kind people at Arrow for my review copy.

File this along such similar books as The Navigator (Numa Files) by Clive Cussler.

Buy Library of the Dead by Glenn Cooper at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Library of the Dead by Glenn Cooper at

Buy Library of the Dead by Glenn Cooper at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Library of the Dead by Glenn Cooper at


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