I've made incredible progress on my family tree, beyond my wildest expectations, but it has come at a price: I am really, really behind on my reading. I'm about three weeks behind, according to my spreadsheet.
I don't want to shelve my family tree or my book project, so I realized what I need to do is read some airplane books. You know the ones I mean: the quick, easy read you pick up in an airport, because it looks like it will hold your attention for the duration of a flight, yet not demand too much of you, because even though you've mostly overcome your fear of flying, it's still hard to concentrate when you're uncomfortably wedged into an airplane seat. John Grisham is one of my airplane authors. I don't think I've ever read one of his books anyplace other than on an airplane, actually.
So I reached for In Tongues of the Dead, a book that came to me via ECW Press's Shelf Monkey Program. The book was described to me as "Da Vinci Cody," which sums it up quite nicely.
The plot concerns the ancient Voynich manuscript at the Yale Library, which no one has been able to decipher. The Vatican has been guarding it for years waiting for the moment when someone would come along who could read it - and so along comes Matthew, a 6-year-old autistic boy, who sets off the action. The manuscript is stolen, a chase ensues, mysterious characters pop in and out of the action.
The story moves quickly and the writing style is brisk, even clipped at times. Unfortunately, the writing is also a bit flat - some scenes that should be dramatic or moving are instead somewhat trite because there isn't much in the way of character development. The characters all speak in the same voice as the narrator, which deflates a great deal of the impact that could have been achieved in some scenes (notably, one that takes place in a hospital towards the end of the book).
I saw the end coming about a mile away but it didn't bother me - I still wanted to know how it was going to turn out and kept reading to the end. Brad Kelln is an excellent plotter, which carries you through In Tongues of the Dead in spite of the limitations of writing style and character development. When you're looking for a light, brisk page-turner, In Tongues of the Dead is a good choice: A good airplane book.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, ECW Press.
18 books down, 32 more to go ... 28 weeks left - uh-oh!