Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review - The Lucifer Code by Charles Brokow

The Lucifer Code

Charles Brokow

Forge Books



368 pages

ISBN: 0765320932 / 9780765320933

Note: Review copy received through Early Reviewers.


You know how some cyber-space experts say that what you post on the Internet remains forever? What that probably means to me in this case is that I’m eventually going to regret what follows. Be that as it may, herein lies one of my very few, very bad reviews. (Not that I’ve written a bad review…although that too may be the case. What I mean is that the book in question is on the receiving end of a bad review.)

In my opinion, The Lucifer Code is a disappointing read for many different small reasons and for one glaringly large one (more on this later). Is the book self-indulgent? Perhaps a little. Misogynistic? Probably. Waste of time? For most of us, unfortunately, I’d have to say yes. It seems to me that the first thirty pages or so simply drone on needlessly about how the main character, Thomas Lourds, is such a ladies man (and not in a good way). Oh, a lot of action takes place, to be sure, but it’s hard to feel involved or become immersed in it through all the sexism and objectifying. I might not have taken such extreme umbrage had Lourds been more charming and polished, like James Bond, for instance, or had that cool factor, like Cotton Malone. Unfortunately, he is neither. In fact, Lourds is so full of himself  that if you look closely enough you can almost see his ego leaking out of his ears onto the page. At one point I remember thinking, Yeah, yeah we get it. Age old story. Horny old man, wants to jump bones of every nubile, young thing he sees. Now, get on with the story, for crying out loud. Unfortunately, Brokow never does. On the surface, this book seems to have everything a good mystery needs to be successful. It contains a conspiracy, a kidnapping, random, gratuitous gunfire, a car chase, and a covert operation carried out by a remote, unemotional CIA operative. And that’s all in the first few chapters. But for me the story never truly coalesces, never really comes together. Most likely because I had to wade through all the skirt-chasing and womanizing to get to any real substance. Shot at, flipped upside down in a car wreck, and running for his life and that’s when the main character decides to get aroused? Look, I can root for the libido of an aging character, even connect somewhat with the ribald, lonely old man, but this level of philandering is too much even for a dirty old man like me. I can suspend belief for a lot of different reasons but there’s no way to downplay this character’s personality and he isn’t written well enough for me to overlook this huge personality flaw.

My advice, good reader? Don’t waste your time. And take with a mountainous grain of salt the reviews that loved this book. Do yourself a favor and move on. There’s actually good literature to be read out there. Spend the time otherwise wasted on this one searching for it.

1 ½ stars out of 5

Twenty minutes later… After re-reading my heavy-handed review it appears that I’ve assumed a truly harsh posture towards this book which is odd since I  completely understand how difficult it is to write a novel. However, in comparison and defense of my review, I’d like to add that just this morning I picked up Mark Hodder’s debut novel Burton and Swinburne in the Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack and simply couldn’t put it down. Now, I can’t wait to get back to it. I guess what turned me off almost immediately about The Lucifer Code was the lasciviousness of that main character. Without a doubt, both books contain characters of similar cut but Hodder’s Richard Burton is refined and likeable while Brokow’s Thomas Lourds has never matured from that annoying, sophomoric frat boy who’s sole purpose in life is to score and move on. The difference between the two is, like I said earlier, glaring.

In truth, I was somewhat ambivalent about The Lucifer Code until I actually started writing my review. Something changed as I began to put my feelings into words. Perhaps, it was because I started to think how my wife or daughters might view this if they were reading it. I can’t say for sure but I suspect most women readers will find the attitude of the main character offensive and disrespectful. I know I did.

Thirty minutes after that… I don’t normally give up easily when it comes to reading new material. Especially when I feel obligated to provide a review but in this case I had to quit reading after only 70 pages. A much younger me would have plodded through this book to find the payoff at the end, which I’m sure it has. The older me realizes that my reading time is finite and getting shorter each day. Time to find something I might truly enjoy reading rather than something I have to simply because I promised to review it.

The Alternative

Southeast Wisconsin

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