Title: Riddle of Berlin
Author: Cym Lowell
Who Should Read It? Lovers of international thrillers that don't mind taking a little extra time to sort things out for themselves.
What I Have to Say:
It's weird, but I really don't know how to review this book. I feel like there are so many critical things I could say about it, but I don't really want to, because when it comes down to it, I liked it. It was a good book. I'm not really your typical reader of thrillers, but when I hear the word thriller, I think fast-paced page turner. And so I went into this book trying to read it that way, and I found myself incredibly confused. I kept thinking I had missed something. I tried sitting down for long periods of time, thinking that I wasn't going to want to put it down, even though there was really so much information that I felt like I needed a break after every chapter.
After about a third of the book, when I realized I had no clue what was going on, I stopped and took a minute to put everything together. I summarized all of the facts in my head and put them together so that I finally was able to form a cohesive story out of everything.
After this, I read much more slowly, taking a short break every two chapters or so. And suddenly I found myself actually enjoying the book, enjoying the story, and curious about what was happening and what was going to happen. This is not a fast-paced, action-packed, page turner of a thriller. There is action, but this is more an intelligent, information-packed international thriller, and it needs to be read as such.
In Riddle of Berlin, Cym Lowell has written of the terrorist plot of the decade (or the century or the millenium), and it was almost funny sitting back watching (reading) as NATO made idiotic mistake after idiotic mistake and idiotic assumption after idiotic assumption trying to get to the bottom of the non-stop terrorist attacks. There were times when I was absolutely baffled by some of the conclusions that they came to, sometimes so much so that it was almost unbelievable.
Cym Lowell has peopled his book with intriguing characters, most of them in the wrong place at the wrong time, but luckily, as the book moves on, some of them start finding themselves in the right places. As I slowly got to know them over the course of the book, I found myself caring for them and hoping that things turned out well for them. There were certain character story lines that I enjoyed more than others, but they were all intriguing and some were even slightly funny (imagine a terrorist arms dealer dressed up as an old granny). My only real complaint about the characters is that their emotions were expressed almost stoically. I managed to get attached to the characters, but I thought that the emotions were presented as only facts should be presented.
Anyhow, so in the end, I would definitely say that I enjoyed this book. Even if there were some things I was still confused about when it was all over. And even if it wasn't the page-turner of a read I was expecting it to be. It was still exciting and suspenseful. I definitely recommend this to lovers of international thrillers; just be ready to think. :-)
Summary: An arms dealer orchestrates acts of terrorism throughout the world, vexing international authorities. Mark Anton is an Internet wunderkind living in Germany, a 27-year-old Californian who went abroad to take advantage of the wild free market conditions in Eastern Europe. Little does Anton know that his empire has caught the attention of an international terrorist mastermind. The Lion, frequently posing as an old German frau, is a sophisticated and cultured criminal holdover from the Old World who orchestrates attacks from a plush library in his suite at Berlin's finest hotel. The shadowy international financier decides to frame Anton-as well as his unsuspecting mother-as the perpetrator of a series of attacks on NATO intelligence and civilians in Germany, using Anton's online venture, an auction site for sports memorabilia, as a coverup for arms dealing. Anton's only hope of escaping this nefarious web-one that also includes the American vice president (who is a friend of his mother's) Chinese militants and the FBI-is an investigator named John Jaëgerman, a decorated war hero and skilled soldier who somehow knows to warn Anton a few days before the first attack. Jaegërman, however, jumps off the Notre Dame Cathedral into the Seine shortly thereafter, in hopes of meeting a mysterious female entity who resides in the water. He is rescued by a Slovakian nurse driven by her own carnal and spiritual desires. For such an integral character in the book, Jaegërman is touched upon too infrequently and without enough emphasis. His relationship with the Slovak Carmen is distracting and even unnecessary in light of the tremendous amount of action going on elsewhere in the book. These disparate storylines eventually come together, but the novel as a whole feels overly plotted. The European settings are top-notch, a Jason Bourne-like mix of sex, immense manses and fast cars. However, NATO seems like a prosaic and harmless target for such a skilled criminal to focus on, and more so, the ability of The Lion to repeatedly defeat the authorities is not entirely plausible. A dense amalgam of genre elements, but fans of international thrillers will be pleased.-Kirkus Discoveries
Cover Story: It's pretty cool. I don't really know where it is, unfortunately, or else I might like it more. I like the color with the sort of numbers ensconced in smoke.
Now, first of all, if you haven't checked out Cym Lowell's blog, do so now. It's awesome!
Secondly, I am SO EXCITED to announce that, thanks to the awesomeness of Cym, I have a SIGNED COPY Of this book to give away! Just fill out this form to enter. Or you can fill it out right below there.
Disclosure: This book was sent to me as a gift by the author.